Mom, Dad, and the Neighbors on Bernard

Mary McCafferty Murray


            The day the twins died, Fr. John Ciolek found Dad crying in the churchyard.   If possible he would have liked to have 10 more kids.

                Stone's Pub was the destination on Saturday nights after the market purchases.  The "chosen ones" who accompanied dad to market would usually get tired of gorging themselves on grapes and oranges.  They would get out of the car and race around or jump to try to touch the pub sign.  When that got boring they would go in the pub and try to persuade dad to leave ("Dear father, dear father, come home with us now..."

                At Christmas the kids would buy dad a carton of cigarettes.

                Dad would leave for work early in the morning, but mom would be way ahead of him.  She would already have a few loads of wash done and hanging on the lines in the backyard.  She would have to take down most of the clothes so he could get the truck out.  Then she would re-hang them.

                Many times Dad would drive slowly in the right lane around town looking at houses--professional curiosity.

                Dad was a thorough worker; according to mom he would not use one nail if two would do it better.  When anyone would try to fix something around the house, it was usually not good enough. 

"Can't anyone do anything right around here?"

                In the summertime he had the kids in the yard pulling crabgrass; he also had them out there looking for worms to go fishing. 

                Dad planted pansies in the spring.  Mom took care of the flowers: peonies, flags, four o'clocks, seven sisters roses, tulips in the spring.  Hollyhocks lined the fence between our house and the neighbor next door.  They had beautiful peonies in their yard.  The four o'clocks were on the fenced area next to Martinko's and Donnley's.  We lived in the house at 10808 Bernard until 1926 and then moved next door to 10904.  Both houses were brick.  The Donnley's next door had no children, only a cat named Fuzz.  I referred to them once as Fuzz and was reprimanded by Mom.  It was puzzling to me.  They had lived in or moved to Medina.  On the other side lived the Lasby's who had two boys.

                The Martinko's lived next door upstairs.  Marion was a year younger than I and we played together.  She had a younger sister, Margorie who wore dresses with matching bloomers; her mother sewed and baked.  She had a delicious recipe for Patica that she shared with us.  The ground poppy seed is not the same as it was when we purchased it at the bakery (along with poppy seed, rye and Vienna bread) but there is a commercial product by Solo that is a substitute.  Mrs. Martinko was a meticulous housekeeper.  I was in the house once and she had newspaper around the rugs, covering the wood floor.  We had to walk around the rug on the newspaper.  Of course we did not play in the house.

                Next to Martinko's lived the Grosser's in a one family house.  There was a girl slightly older than I, Mary Ann, also twin boys, Bud and Spud, and another older boy.

                Next door was a two-family that had many different families and various children.  Next door was a two family.  The downstairs was the home of the Yarano family (name later changed to Grane).  He was either a lawyer or businessman.  The family included Jack, Loretta, Patricia and the twins, Jim and Tommy (the latter died in his early twenties).   Mom was a good friend of Mrs. Yarano--she was the first one called when Pat Garvey died.

                Going down the line, the next house belonged to the Corrigans.  Eddie was a friend of Pat and John.  There was an older boy and a girl named Gertrude.  Further down was another one-family brick house.  The Kerrigans had 4 girls: Eileen, Dorothy, Grace, and Dolly.  This family had a special relationship with the McCafferty family--we shared a party telephone line--Clearwater 1116.  Needless to say 4 eligible daughters kept the phone busy which was very annoying to Dad.  He conducted much of his business by phone and he couldn't understand why girls had to be on the phone so much.  Telephone number went to Orchard 1116 and then Orchard 1-1116.

                Other neighbors up the street included Vitkonitz --two girls, close to my age but they weren't always included in the neighborhood games after dinner--My Father Owns the Grocery

Store, Relieval, Kick the Can, Hot Beans, and Red Rover.  There was street baseball that included most of the children on the street.  We had someone on the sewers to try to safeguard the ball.  If someone had to go into the sewer for the ball, the manhole cover had to be removed to recover the ball.  The tricky part was to replace the cover without squashing fingers.  Another hazard, of course, was the traffic (fortunately not that bad); the cry was "Heads up".

                Another street game and sometimes sidewalk activity was Jump Rope.  This was not limited to the girls.  Some of the boys were fairly proficient jumpers.

                Back to neighbors...  across the street were the Guenthers, an older couple.  The Conways lived two doors from them nearer 110th Street.  Marie and her brother Raymond lived here with parents and an aunt.  In the other direction lived the Sweenys--Norma, an only child my age.  Her mother Kate (?) lived in mom's neighborhood growing up.  Mom was annoyed that Mrs. Sweeny was fond of telling people how to raise their children.  She assumed the cloak of an expert--with one child.                                                                                            

The War Years


            Most people can recall that fateful day of Dec. 7,1941; they can probably tell you exactly where they were when President Roosevelt came over the radio to deliver the news about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.  For most of us, we didn't know what the word "war" really meant.  We soon found out.

                One of those who died on the fateful day was a man by the name of Halloran; the Park on West 117th street is named after him.

                Many men were drafted or enlisted.  Cards with stars were placed in windows when there was a family member in the service.  If someone died, the star was changed to gold. Many of the group from St. Ignatius went into the various corps.  In the back of St. Ignatius Church they had a statue of Christ in all his woundedness.  Here, worried parents burned vigil lights and prayed for their sons (and daughters).

                Many songs were written about the war and musicians resurrected many of the songs from World War I.

                For those of us in grade school, it meant learning how to get under the desks during an air raid drill--a real feat when you consider how small the desks were and that they were all on runners.  In the evenings we would also have periodic "raids" and every light in everyone's houses had to be extinguished.  No one was supposed to be in the streets for any reasons--except the air raid warden who was supposed to monitor the streets (usually we were still outside catching lightning bugs--so enemy planes wouldn't see their lights).  Churches were a lot fuller on Sundays and even during the week.  People had something to really pray for.  The service men and women were also remembered at the numerous Miraculous Medal novena services held every Monday at Ignatius.

                 We learned the meaning of the word "rationed".  There were numerous things you could not buy without stamps--shoes, gas, and foods.  You needed stamps for sugar, butter, meat and other products.  At this time, "margarine came into being as a substitute for butter: the difference was you could buy a pound of margarine--always white in color, and in the pack you would get this little ball of yellow coloring that had to be kneaded into the margarine.  This was a real task and, unfortunately it never turned out

evenly.  Greece drippings (bacon, etc.) were brought back to stores and one was given monies for these, since they could be used in the war efforts.

                Canteens were set up in the cities and towns so that when the service people were home or in a strange city, they were made welcome.  At that time there were few, if any fast food places to gather.  The government needed monies to finance the war efforts.  War bonds (and stamps) were sold --in schools and  even in grocery stores.  Since so many men went to war, numerous women went into the work force.

                I remember writing letters to Pat, my oldest brother.  The life of a 10 year old was not too exciting so usually I listened to the Hit Parade on Saturday nights (they played the top ten tunes of the week) and put these into my letters--it took up a lot of space.

                Initially, we lost many of the battles of the war; this seemed however, to make people even more determined.  Gradually we began to gain ground --in both the Pacific and European conflicts.

                When the war was over, there was a gathering of Clevelanders downtown.  Unfortunately, still being too young to go, I could only experience it vicariously through the eye witness accounts of my older siblings and what I read in the papers (no TV, we didn't get a set until 1948).  Gradually those who had joined the armed forces came home--and many took advantage of the G.I. bill to go to college.


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