Dave Kelley's Life Story
Father's Master degree was in Electrical Engineering and Management. We were
o.k. Financially for those times, my Father had a good job and we all worked and
handed in our pay. My Father was in the Army during WW1, I don't really know his
part or rank. He never got out of the states during the war years of 1914 thru
houses on Castor Ave: Moved in the summer of 1935 to 5221 Castor ave. I started
5th grade in St Martinís, we moved across the street to 5227 in 1941 where I
lived when I finished High School and went into the Marines. Thatís the house
where your Mother lived with Tom till my Father died. Your uncle Don was still
there. It had two stories and a 3rd floor attic where Mart and Fr. Tom slept, 3
bedrooms on 2nd floor where Don, Jack, and me slept. Sue had the middle by
herself, Mother and Dad in the Front bedroom. One bathroom between Sue's and
Front bedroom. Down stairs we had a front enclosed sun porch, then into the
Living Room, into the Dinning Room, into a neat small breakfast Room with wall
benches to sit, into the Kitchen and it had a garage in the back. Pretty nice
neighborhood and nice people such as the Harvey's. Who had Kate, Jane, Julia
(all beautiful), Ed, (my buddy) and John, Jim, and Pete, all three became
Oblates from North Catholic like Fr Tom. Officially Northeast Catholic High
School. We always refer it as North or North Catholic.
not a clue about my uncles during WW1----Uncle Tom hardly ever
saw, Uncle Frank___neat guy, worked for my Dad @ F.W. Tunnell's in Philly. Great
family----Aunt Rose and the kids were Alice, Mary, Raymond, and Phillip. Mary
used to baby sit us a lot. We would drive her crazy. Uncle John---He supposedly
drank a lot. I remember when I served newspapers in his neighborhood and I would
deliver to the various Taprooms, I would run into him, he would run and hide
when I came in. He Got divorced and his wife and daughter moved to up state Pa.
Aunt Sue Kept in touch with them. I sat in the hospital (with my Mother) and was
there when he died. I remember how sick he was, and skinny, you could see right
thru his skin to see his bones. It was my 1st close experience with death. He
died in 1943.
Regina---(my Godmother) She was very sick all the time, every time we visited
she was in bed. She was very good to me. She would send a lot of neat care
packages to me when I was overseas her husband was Uncle Jose McGrath, Kids were
Mary, James, Paul, Rita, And Dick (our adopted brother) Real close cousins. They
all lived with Grand mom Kelley (Very Special Lady) in the Frankford section of
Mother had sisters Josephine, Helen, Veronica ----Brothers Lawrence and
Vince____Aunt Josephine ___I didn't know her she lived in Greensburg. Aunt Helen
----------(I loved her dearly) she lived in Long Island N.Y. (2) great kids --
Helen and Patricia, my very favorite girl cousin. She was so beautiful, she was
a year older than me, and she was my 1st crush. When she would visit we would
play cards all the time, we were very close. Patty died when she was only 16
year old, I was devastated. Aunt Ronnie---who lived in Greensburg, Pa till my
Dad died, then she came down to Philly to share an apartment with Mother in the
Olney section of Philly. She was very sweet and a great companion for Mother
till they both died in their 80's. Mother in 1976, Aunt Ronnie in 1977. I was
with Aunt Ronnie and Mother when they died of cancer in the Hospital. Uncle
Lawrence----A mystery man. Nobody knows much about him. Uncle Vince_____Great
guy, very close to Mother and Dad. He worked very close in the company with Dad
for many years. He and his Wife, also named Aunt Ronnie, visited the house a
lot. Beautiful people.
to 3rd grade:
think I was born in Jefferson Hosp. in Philly. by Dr. McNeil Then again I think
I was born @ home. (5243 N. 13th St.) by Dr. McNeil I have to check out. I can't
think of one thing they had to say about my infancy/toddler stage. My earliest
memory is a brand new little yellow suit I wore and went playing in the woods
across the street and climbing a tree and falling off the tree and my Father
picking me up and carrying me home and calling Dr McNeil. He checked me out,
couldn't find anything wrong and getting hell from my Father for causing such a
fuss and ruining my new little yellow suit. I didn't go to a Kindergarten.
Catholic Schools didn't have any in those days.
no idea of 1st grade nun's name. But I do remember she asked my name and when I
told her and she said "oh no - not another KelleyĒ. Now does that tell
you something about Uncle Mart and Fr. Tom? My first day coming home from
school, cutting thru the woods I was jumped by George Eastburn, a 4th grader who
lived 4 houses up from us. He had me down and was sitting on top of me. I pulled
him down and bit him bad on his face. He let me go and I ran home. I got him
good later when I was in the 4th grade after I joined the Feegan Gang. The 1st
Sunday Mass at Holy Child Church we assembled down under the Church in the
basement before Mass. The classes would go up to Church mass - the 8th grade
first on down to 1st. Well, for some reason me and Dorothy Bell missed going up
stairs to Mass. I remember we were there for a very long time and didn't know
what to do so we just sat there and she taught me songs she knew from Shirley
Temple movies. One was: On the Good Ship Lollypop" and the other was one of
my all time favorites "On the Isle Of Capri". Now it's getting real
late, because it's getting dark and we are still trying to be brave when all of
sudden somebody at the top of the stairs yells "is any body down
there." I was fine till then, then I lost it, both of us did, we started
crying and ran to him yelling,Ē we are, we are". It was a Philly
Policeman. They had been looking for us all day, all over Philly and finally
thought to check the Church basement. I did not get hell this time, my parents
were so glad to find us. Can you imagine what we put them thru? Dorothy was my
favorite girl all the way thru Holy Child School till we moved the summer after
the 4th grade. I never saw her after that.
special of 2nd and 3rd grade. Donít remember sisterís names who taught me. I
was playing games in the street like we did in those days. Hand ball, box ball,
hide and seek, had skates and skates mobiles made out of orange crates and a
slate of wood and a piece of broom handle for steering. Learned a lot of card
games, house games. Plenty of roughhouse with my brothers, we had boxing gloves
and we would fight a lot. Had a neat little puppy dog who bit me on the nose
when I was playing on the floor with him. I bit him back; we got along fine
grade _ Now I'm old enough to join The Feegan Gang but you had
to get initiated first. You had to run thru and jump over trenches that had big
fires burning in them, run thru a gang of older guys who would smack you all the
way thru. Then the special trick, a big kid would get behind you and squeeze you
under the chest hard till you passed out. If they thought you were faking they
would let go and if you were unconscious you would hit the ground hard. Mart
thought I was faking and let go and I hit the ground and rolled down the hill.
They let me in the gang when I came too. We played in the woods a lot that's
where Fr. Tom, me and Jack got caught smoking my Fatherís cigars by my Mother.
She put the butts in front of my Father's dinner plate that nite, he took us
down the cellar and made us finish smoking them, we gagged a lot, and he sent us
to bed. We never did stop smoking, also in the woods we made tree houses, and in
the upper or lower lots we would make snow houses and forts and play Soldiers or
Cowboy and Indians. We would climb the trees near the block long row of garages
and shimmy out the big branches over the garages and drop down on the garage
roofs and play on top of them. I remember playing catch with my Dad, He would
sit on the top front step of the house and throw the ball to me and I would toss
it back to him. We made slingshots from tree branches shaped in a Y shape,
attach big wide rubber bands to it and use small pebbles and shoot birds (mostly
Crows) out of trees. Worked off Ice trucks helping to deliver ice to houses for
their iceboxes. You call them refrigerators now. We played baseball in the upper
lot which we named Somerville field. Thatís where the Negro teams (Homestead Graves)(also a team
would play on mules) would come and play our semi pro teams. Saw some real good
baseball. The horse drawn wagons would deliver our milk (Abbots dairy) our bread
(Bond and Friehoffers Bakeries). We helped Mother make homemade Ice cream. We
sold Magazines, Shoveled snow, cut grass to make money and turn it all in to my
Father. We sold penny candy in school to help the Nuns. I mention before that I
was born in a house @ 5th and Duncannon Ave. in the Olney section of Philly.
Don't remember a thing about it, moved to Logon Section of Philly before my 1st
grade to 5243 N. 13th St. where I lived till we moved that summer after I
finished the 4th grade. Our house on 13th Street was a two story with a cellar,
coal furnace, living room, dinning room, kitchen, small shed where the Ice box
was kept, upstairs had front large bedroom, a middle room, and a back room, and
a bathroom. I can't remember any thing about where we all slept. We had a small
alley between next door that lead to the back of the house and small yard and
back door. It had an open front porch high off the street. With a stonewall.
Remember the small picture of the six of us sitting on the wall with our feet
dangling and we went back 70 yrs later and tried to duplicate the old photo. We
moved the summer of 1935 to St Martin's parish to 5223 Castor Ave where I
started the 5th Grade.
to 6th grade:
Grade -- Moved that summer after I finished 4th grade to 5227 Caster
Ave house. Had a lot more chores to handle like cutting the lawn, weeding the
flower garden, cutting the long hedges surrounding the front, side, and rear of
house, and taking out the ashes by the buckets, and sharing in keeping the coal
furnace going to heat the house in the winter. We would cut our grass and shovel
our snow before we would go out and make money cutting the neighbors grass or
shoveling their snow covered walkways, driveways and pavements. In the summer we
used to play tire ball, wire ball half (floaters) ball in the street. I broke
Babe Ruth's home run record (720) one summer in tire ball With Fr. Tom pitching.
It took a lot of games. Tire ball was using a cut up piece (about 5 inch long)
of a bicycle tire, and you would pitch it to the batter by flipping it so it
would come in to the batter end over end. We had home plate on Granite Street
along side of the house and set the distant by using the trees along Granite
Street as markers for single, double triples and Castor Ave as a home run. I was
the only kid that broke the record. I played football on the Triangle that we
used as a practice field and played baseball on a field we made out of a lot
along Oxford Ave with home plate @ the edge of Oxford ave. facing the back row
of the houses along Castor Ave. A home run was if you could hit it over the
hedges along the alley in back of those houses. A lot of times a home run would
bounce and hit a house window and break it, we would pay or fix the broken
windows ourselves, so the parents would keep letting us keep playing there. We
would box with gloves down the cellar or in the garage' with Martin, Fr. Tom
(Jack and Don were too little) and the Harvey boys (Ed, John,), Jack Hatfield,
George Seese, Ray Wright, Jack Cavanaugh. Great neighborhood! Jack Hatfield had
a pool table in a cellar rec room and he had a bicycle too, nobody had bikes, he
used to let me ride his bike and shoot pool in his house. His family liked me.
He was one of the few Protestants in the area. He had Epilepsy and I would
always carry a clothespin with me so when he would go into a fit I was able to
stick the clothespin in his mouth so he wouldn't swallow his tongue and choke to
death. In those days Mother didn't want us to play with non-Catholics, so I
never told her about Jack Hatfield. One day we were all hanging in front of the
Harveyís (They also had 3 beautiful girls (Kate, Julia and Ė Jane, who your
Uncle Mart married before he went overseas and is the mother of all of Uncle
Mart's Kids) and Jack was going thru a Epilepsy fit and I was putting the
clothes pin in his mouth and stretching him out on the lawn when my Mother
happened to come around the corner, coming home from the store and saw what we
were doing. She never said not to play with Jack after that. My buddies from
school (Tommy Keenan, Pud OíDonnell, Reds McDevitt, Jim Maguire) and I would
walk the sewers, which was a little dangerous. I wouldn't tell my brothers that
I was doing stuff like that and hopping trucks along the Roosevelt Blvd. to
Broad St, sneaking on the Subways, riding them up and downtown all day or hop
more trucks to Delaware Ave. in Fish town And then swim in the river. We also
thumb rides on the Blvd. to Pennypack Creek or the creek near Sears and go bare
ass swimming. And I had better been home before 6:00p.m. for dinner or I didn't
get any. We played basketball on Large St. behind Frankford H.S. soccer field.
We had a basket on a telephone pole. It was tough street ball, good experience
for a kid, guys from high school, and St Joe's and LaSalle College played there,
especially Sat. Mornings. I remember guys like Phil Looby from LaSalle College.
He was tough.
grade 6th grade much the same stuff. Except one disaster in the 6th
Grade, Halloween day. We would come home for lunch every day, this day the
boys decided to stop by Henneritta and Gabriela Murphy's house on the way back
to school, because we knew their father made bathtub gin and wine and brud beer.
While some of the boys kept the girls busy up stairs, some of us would sneak
down the cellar and hit the booze. My 1st Experience and I snuck too
much. I was drunk by the time I got to school, was making a lot of noise in the
corridor, the Mother Superior grabbed me and took me in her office and had me
pull down my long stockings (We wore knickers in those days) and she began to
beat me with a yard stick, waiting for me to cry, she broke two yard sticks and
I wouldn't cry, she gave up and sent me back to my classroom, I crawled up the
steps to the 2nd floor 6th grade classroom hurting. I sat in the last seat in
the 1st isle. I made it and in comes Mother Superior and tells to come up in
front of the class, I struggled to the front and read me the riot act in front
of all and told them that I was being put back in the 5th grade as punishment. I
spent one month in the 5th grade. I learned a hard lesson (Little did I realize
that was the start of my alcohol problems) I made a private promise to not get
in trouble in school again. I began to study extra and hit the books hard. It
paid off, it was the start of a very successful school life. I ended up @ the
end of the 6th grade getting the bronze metal for the highest mark in math. It
helped ease things @ home some. One thing that stands out from those years is
coming down each morning to the kitchen and seeing 6 pairs of school shoes all
shined and lined up for us to wear to school, and many a morning I would get
down stairs early and catch my Mother still scrubbing the floor. My Job by then
was to wake up Martin, I'd go to the 3rd floor and stick a broom handle between
the stair banister rungs and hit Martin to wake him. He hated that, I made sure
I got out of there before he got near the steps. He always came down to the one
bathroom mad and would lock the rest of us out till he was done. I used to get
Donald to keep knocking on the door, Martin sometimes open the door quick and
belt Don, So I had to step in and the fights would start. Then my father would
wake up and we were all in trouble.
& 8th grade: Mother----A very quiet, good living, church-going person,
devout catholic, belong to "The Blessed Virgin Mary Society @ ST Martin's
of Tours Church. Always quietly helping someone like when my Uncle John was
dying in the Incurable Hospital in Philly, Mother would be the one down there
visiting him and helping him until his death. She would take me with her @
times. I remember holding Uncle John's hand when he died and seeing all his
veins and bones thru his arms because his skin and flesh had gotten so thin you
could see right thru the skin. It was sad. He died a very lonely man. He lost
his wife and daughter because of his drinking long before his death. When I
delivered the newspapers in his neighborhood (he lived with Grandmother Kelley,
Uncle Jose/Aunt Regina and the rest of the McGrath's), we delivered to the
Taprooms and I would run into uncle John in them, he would try to hide, but I
would see him, I thought he was a good guy, but the drinking got him. Mother was
always working hard around the house and the FLOWER BEDS. One of my jobs was to
help with the outside work. I would hide a water/garden snake in her flowerbed
(I had a boxful during those days) to scare her. She would let out a yell and
then I would track the snake down and put it back in my shoebox. I would tease
my Mother a lot. I think I told you before how I would sneak in the kitchen when
she was making dinner and pull her apron string lose and run out the backdoor
real quick and scoot quick in thru the front door before she could see me and
she would be yelling out the back "David you get in here and behave".
By that time I had quietly snuck back thru the living room, dining room to the
kitchen again and was standing behind her and I would scare her again when I
would say, ďMother, Iím right hereĒ. She was a good sport, with all us
boys, Donald would give her fits all the time, even up to her death in the
hospital, He was helping push the gurney she was on and yelling, ĒLady with a
baby, Lady with a babyĒ. She made sure we did all our house/outside chores and
kept after us to keep our room and closets clean, stayed after us to do our
homework and clean up after meals and do the dishes. She washed and ironed all
day with the 6 of us and my Dad. She took very good care of Dad after he had his
1st heart attack in 1938. Mother was a quite a strong person.
The best, Hard Working, Strong, Stern and yet very fair, would whack you when
you needed it. You never talked back to your parents or shame on you. You paid
the price. Very kind and fun and would tell neat stories.
and I were very close. I use to sit on the floor in front of his chair in the
living room and file his nails while we would talk and he would tell stories and
I would tell him stuff. He would make me laugh and he was always pushing you and
encouraging you to do more and better. He set a great example to motivate you to
plug hard in life so it would pay off. He was good at fixing and building
things. He was a master Engineer. He built a bench for Martin to put all his
medical alcohol jars of body parts (all labeled) of dead cats which mart
would cut open and dissect to help him in his future medical career. My job was to
catch stray cats and kill them for Mart to work on. He also built an alter for
Fr. Tom to use to say Mass for us down the cellar. Mother made all the vestments
Fr. Tom wore, and she would make small wafers to use for communion. Weíd all
go to mass while Fr. Tom practiced on us. Uncle Jack was the alter boy, Suzanne
& I were the Choir, And I forget what Donald did, except laugh a lot during
mass. Our Parents did all they could to help us grow up. In our last home, he
with the help of us boys, made over our cellar into a Rec Room by paneling the
walls, put flooring in, sitting chairs, a dart board, (which I became pretty
good @ shooting). He was active in Philly's Chamber of Commerce. He was F.W
Tunnell Co's general manager (Glue & Fertilizer Plant) he brought a lot of
our relatives to work with him. Uncle Frank, Uncle Jose McGrath, Uncle Vince
Owens, Abby Hoener (our cousin). He was very well liked, I remember his viewing
being one of the biggest I ever went to. I remember I couldn't wait to grow up
so I could help my Dad and make it easier for him and Mother. Never had the
chance to help him, Dad died when I was still in the Marines in 1946, the only
consolation I have is I gave him his 1st grandson (our Tom) to share with for 4
months before he died. He doted over him like a grand pop does. He loved your
mother so; they had fun together with Tom. My brothers and I talk a lot about
our Dad when we're together. We missed out on a lot years when we could of
shared stuff and our kids with him. He could have guided us thru our 20's, 30's.
We sure could have used his experiences and helpful advice during those years
and we could have made life easier for him. We missed him bad. It's a gift to
have your parents around when you are older. Families are what make life work. I
have always used my Dad as a Motivator and remember him in my nightly prayers. I
was a lucky kid to have great parents.
& 8th grade
Grade-- I started to work hard @ school and home. I was motivated, did my chores
at home diligently, with Fr. Tom sold magazines and had a paper route and turned
in the money to my Father because that's what kids did in those days. We were
family oriented and wanted to do any thing to help out. We were given allowances
by our parents accordingly. Played hard, hung with the older guys
so I could get better in baseball, football, and basketball. It helped, and with
my gang we walk the big underground sewers, making rolled up newspaper torches
to see down there. Had a lot of adventures bumming rides, riding buses, subways,
and the elevators all over Philly.
go swimming in Pennypack Creek, the Delaware River down in Fishtown off the
wharfs and (BA) swim @ the creek behind the big factory on the Roosevelt Blvd.
and try to get out of there before they dumped the dye in the creek @ 5:00 pm
every nite. And I had better be home in time for dinner or you didn't get any.
You were late if you were not in your chair by 6:oopm when my Father sat down.
Be late and you were sent to your bedroom with no dinner. (Once in awhile Mother
would sneak something to eat up to you.) There were no excuses. WHEN US
WOULD GET IN A HASSLE MY FATHER WOULD SEND US DOWN TO THE CELLAR OR OUT IN THE
GARAGE TO SETTLE IT WITH BOXING GLOVES. MARTIN AND I BECAME PRETTY GOOD AT
BOXING. WHICH HELPED LATER IN LIFE. Played a lot of Wire ball. Half ball, tire
ball (I told you about those games, like when I broke Babe Ruth's Home Run
Record). Went to a lot of 8th @ 7th grade Parties. Life was good. My father had
his 1st heart attack and that slowed things down around the house we had to be
quiet all the time.
cats so Martin could dissect them and bottle and label the parts. Well I would
catch the stray cats and bring them home and Mart would try to put them to sleep
with Chloroform, sometimes it wouldn't work and I'd have to hit them over the
head with a hammer or strangle them. (Somebody had to do it)!
Grade --- Sister Borgia -- by far the toughest nun in the school. She took me
under her wing and decided I was going to be her prize pupil. (It worked) - At
graduation time I won it all ---The Gold Medal for highest average in the whole
school (98.6) I think that record still stands @ St. Martinís. Your cousin
Colleen came close. And your aunt Sue did well too. I remember beating out
Teresa Birkenstock and Jim Maguire, which was quite a feat. I also won a
scholarship to St. Joseph and LaSalle High Schools.
made me study 3 & 1/2 hrs every day and I had to get my study chart signed
by my Father each day verifying I did study 3 & 1/2 hrs. She told me I
couldn't mess with girls. I had a girlfriend, Dot Stiegerwald, who lived two
blocks above the school on Sanger St and I used to sneak to her house by walking
3 or 4 blocks out and around the neighborhood to see her. The next day @ school
Sister Borgia would tell me about it, she had spies working for her. It was a
full year. Even @ the May procession I had to give a prayer speech @ the Blessed
Mother's Statue. I walked with the May Queen (Dot Stiegerwald) which was cool.
Great Graduation parties. I even quit smoking during the 8th grade. I was a good
Kid. I begged my Father to let me go to Northeast Catholic High where my 2 older
brothers were going, even though I had free scholarships to St, Joe's &
LaSalle. He said o.k. because I proved I could do well. It was an eventful year
in my Life and fulfilling. The summer was wild, went back to smoking and girls and fun
for the summer.
School (Freshman/Sophomore)Note: I got my 1st pair of long pants for 8th grade
graduation. Boys wore
Knickers in my day from 1st grade to 8th. Now we were big time. We had one pair
for School, one pair for Church/dress, We still played in our knickers with
leather patches sewed over knees. And you changed accordingly, or trouble with
year (Sept.1939 to June 1940)- I was assigned to North Catholic's Annex in Lower
Frankford @ St. Jolican's School. We had tough Oblates of St Frances teachers
and a very tough Principal (can't remember name) but I still see his stern face.
I played freshman football, had to walk to the main school every day for
practice. We had a great team a 7 and 1 record. I played right end. I did pretty
well. I beat out Jim Maguire for the spot, Uncle Don says Jim's still mad @ me.
I went out for the basketball team too, got cut on the last cut, very
disappointed. Any time in gym when we would play other classes with any of the
guys that made the team I would bust my tail extra to show them up. It worked
most times. This is when "The Unholy Five " was formed. Dave Kelley,
Don St John, Joe Flanagan, Bill Dyer, and Ed Ortlieb. We became close friends,
tough, good students and gang forever. Iíll tell you more about them guys
later. We were all in the college prep classes all thru High School. We had two
languages (French/Latin), Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Biology, English,
Religion, History, Radio,
Science. Awful schedule, no study periods, we all worked hard in School and we
had out side jobs too. Freshman year I still sold Magazines and papers. I
remember one incident clearly in my freshman year. Because I was going to the
Annex and was a little closer to home than Mart or Fr. Tom who were in the Main
school @ Torresdale and Lehigh Ave. I got home earlier. This one afternoon I get
the word that Mart is set to fight another senior over @ Harberson's Field
across from the main school (where all the famous North Catholic fights were
Settled). I had to run all the way back down to the main school and be there for
my brother. Thatís what you did in those days, families always stuck together
when there was a fight. It turned out to be one of the best fights of that time.
It lasted so long I was able to get down there and watch most of it. (It was all
over Aunt Jane), I think over the weekend this kid was trying to hit on her and
Mart got the word and you didn't mess with anybodyís girl. Mart and Aunt Jane
were an item since grammar school. I had to fight Mart one time over Jane; it
was Julia, her sister, I was hitting on. He was tough. He's the only guy ever,
in all the fights I had in life who ever knocked me out. I had a lot of good
times with the girls. They were teaching me how to dance around this time. My
Father was still not to well, but started back to work by now.
summer. Sophomore Year (Sept 1940 to June 1941)ó The Unholy Five all were
still together in Soph 2, I was playing for the Jr. Varsity football, very tough
coaches, many late nights for dinners (Good excuses) because of late practices
and many laps in the dark around the tracks to makes us think of our screw ups
in practice. Our Varsity coach was Sy Simmindinger and Whitey Marshall for the
JV'S. Mr. Marshall became the Varsity coach in my senior year. Tough schedule,
good. What was neat we had a lot of ST Martinís (my 8th grade class) on the
JV's team. Reds McDevitt, Ed Quarry, Jim Maguire, Dave Kelley.
soph 2 class were the terrors in the gym games and out on the school field in
intramural sports. I grew a lot in the summer after freshman year. They kidded
me about growing out of my long pants, they were way up my legs. Great school
year, very close to my "unholy five" buddies. We still stay in touch.
Thereís only 3 of us left. Neighborhood friends were Hank Houseman, (Hank's
older brother graduated from La Salle College that summer and me and Hank Helped
Ed memorize the color blind charts so he could join the navy as a pilot) Walt
OíDonnell, Duke Whalin, and Reds McDevitt.
Year continued (June 1941)I am continuing my summer after Soph. year. I started
smoking and drinking now that I was hanging out with the older guys on the
corner too. Guys Like Lloyd, John LeCompte and Reds Snieder. I started out going
to the dance clubs with the gang and they were drinking before they got there. I
didn't drink in the early summer. I used to take care of the guys who got in
fights or got too drunk and would take them home or jump in the middle of their
fights. I remember taking John LeCompte home one nite (he was Mart's age) and
opened his front enclosed porch door to put him in a chair and got out of there,
but before I could his mother opened the living room door and saw John and
started yelling at me for getting him drunk. I took off and on the way home
decided if I was going to get blamed for getting the older guys drunk I may as
well drink myself, so I did the next weekend. I had 2 beers that Friday nite and
went to the dance and carry on like I'd seen the older guys, I thought that was
what beer did to you, but when I got near my house I straighten up pretty quick.
I started drinking on all the weekends. It was party time, but for some reason I
wouldn't get drunk. I used to practice Darts down our cellar and became very
good at it. I didn't have money for drinking. I worked in Sears Mail order dept.
and what money I made I turned in to Dad. He gave me $1:00 to spend each nite.
That didn't go far if you drank before you hit the dance halls like "The
Spot" or "The Swing Club". We use to go to a Bar in Ridesburg
called Butsey's where they had 10 cent shots an 5 cent beers and I would shoot
darts against the older men for money and beat them and now had some spending
money. It started a new side career. We all out hung on the corner of Merriam Rd
and Bridge St. There was a corner store there where they sold milk, bread,
candy, potato chips, pretzels and Tasteykakes and other treats, and they had
pinball machines too. The owner was a good guy and let us hang on the corner
because we spent money in the store. We
would all meet there before we would go out at nite. Had plenty of fun with the
girls swimming at the pools. The Boulevard pool (on Roosevelt Blvd), The Ware's
pool and The Somerton Pool, both a long bus ride to Somerton, Pa. You had a lot
of time to talk to the girls on the bus rides. To and from the pools. Played
cards sitting on the grass plots dividing the Roosevelt Blvd Lanes on many
weekday nights. It was good times. But we were pretty serious kids for our age
due to the war in Europe going on with Hitler invading all the countries, and
Japan invading China.
Year in H.S. Sept. 1941 to June 1942
of 1941 - Back in school, class junior 1---Heavy school schedule. Worked
hard @ school and Home. Worked after school across from our H.S. in a FACTORY
THAT MADE tent material for the military. The war IN EUROPE was ESCALATING. Hitler had invaded
Poland heading for Russia next, was daily bombing England. Was tied up with
Italy and Japan called "The Axis" They were the bad guys. We as
kids thought and played soldier a lot and talked about joining up. I was playing
football with the "Frankford Yellow Jackets" against the Bridesburg
Eagles in Bridesburg on Dec. 7th 1941. At half time we scooted off the field to
the corner store for a Pepsi and Tastykake and we heard on the store radio that
the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It stirred us up, we pretended the
other team were Japs and we beat up on them and won the game. We all got home
and that night we met on the corner and decided to join up. On Monday morning,
35 of our neighborhood guys went downtown and joined the Marines. I brought all
my papers home to have signed, I was only 16 then and you had to have a parent
sign for you to go. My Father wouldn't sign, he said I had to finish H.S. first.
We had a big Party at the "Club Morocco" on the Roosevelt Blvd, on
Tues. night that week and we all
got smashed. I had to fight the twins John and Loy LeCompte that night, we got
home around 4:00am by a truck and dumped off in front of each of our homes. I
had school that day, I was still drunk and went in school Wed, and got in
trouble and was given the choice by our principle to take the pledge to never
drink again till I was 21 or bring my parents in. I took the pledge it didn't
last long, I went out that Fri. night. I was able to join the V-12 program as a
Marine officer trainee later - on March 17th, 1943.
Time worked in Post Office Delivering Mail. One Route was working on
a mail truck delivering Xmas package to various places, one place was Byeberry
Insane Asylum up in Sommerton, up in the far northeast part of Philly. What an
experience. Some of the inmates were allowed to walk the grounds, and when you
would get off the truck to take the packages up to the front door, they would
jump out at you and scare the hell out of you. The walk up to the main door, was
bounded on both sides by glass enclosures where more inside inmates would bang
on the glass, jump up and down, make faces at you, and other crazy hand signs at
you. It kept you on the alert. Summer I worked in Sears Warehouse where we used
hand trucks to unload 1000lb bails of various types, & sizes of packed
clothes shipped from railroad cars, and truck the bails inside to the mail order
section of the warehouse and break the bails open to be delivered up to the mail
order floors in the main store. I met and worked with many girls who were a lot
older than me Ė ďInterestingĒ! Weekend nite life was hitting big bars and
dance halls where the older girls hung out, places like "The 5 finger
Bar" @ Broad and Lehigh in North Philly, Big bars downtown On 15th St.. The
"Continental" on Frankford Ave. We would hit them after I would work
the old men in the neighborhood bars and play them for money with darts so I had
money to spend on the girls. The whole gang of us @ North Catholic led a fast
life, school, working after school and out every nite drinking, just waiting to
go in the service. The war speeded up the pace of living, for everyone. Gave up
High School sports, so I could work and make money. Played sandlot football with
the Frankford Yellow jackets, basketball with "The Triangle A C"
against teams all over Philly and out side Philly.
"Unholy Five" got very close during my Junior and senior years. We
were all in the same classes, played intramural sports together, hung out at the
dances together. My neighbor gang, we hung on the corner together, went to
church together, worked together, played weekend and week nite sports together,
drank together, fought the other neighborhood gangs together. Summer swimming @
the Pools and creeks. Fr Tom had started to drive that year and he would
practice on the cinder roads surrounding the factory where my Father worked. One
day I was with him in the car @ the Factory (F. W. Tunnell & Co.) and we
were riding around the place and Tom, who was driving dropped his cigarette and
told me to hold the steering wheel and was bending down trying to find it and we
had to turn a curve in the road, we/I didn't make it. We landed down in a ditch
we climbed out of the car and up to the road. We looked towards the factory and
my Father was standing there looking at us. That put an end to my getting
started to learn how to drive. And curtailed Tom's driving for a while. I never
ask my Father to drive after that, it wasn't till 1953 that I went for my driver
test (2 wks. before the Twins were born). It was an Eventful summer of 1942.
H. S.Senior Year (Sept.1942 to June 1943) Senior
2 Class @ "NorthĒ. It was full schedule the 1st half of the Year.
The "Unholy Five" set up a system for us to use thru this year. Each
guy @ test time had a particular subject to study hard on and when we had tests
in class, we would pass singles for the answers to each who didn't know the
answers, we all did good. We would every Friday @ 10:15 a.m. cut class, jump the
Fence surrounding the school and go in Joe Flanaganís car (parked 2 blocks
away) to downtown to the early show @ the Earle Theatre and catch the movie and
The Big Band show, which changed every Friday. Then we would get back to school
before the 2:15 p.m. class and the class Absentee reporter would cover for us
under threat of a beating. At our 1943 50th class reunion (1993) he (Charlie?)
told that story and how he was afraid of us. We all (only 4 of us were left, Joe
Flanagan had died) bought him a big double shot of whiskey and had a lot of
laughs, and a lot of old stories that day. We all had enough credits to go to
college but all we were thinking of is to join up and help fight the war against
the Japs and Nazis, which was raging.
went in the V-12 program (March 17th 1943) with Kevin Murray (we were The
only 2 who made the Marine Corps). Joe left for the regular Navy, and Don St
John, Bill Dyer and Ed Ortlieb all went in the Navy @ the end of the school
year. Ed stayed in and made a career of Naval Service. He became the 1st captain
of the 1st nuclear Submarine and served in the Viet Nan war before he retired.
We all started a new life. The whole United States was fully involved in the
war. My father was an Air raid warden in the neighborhood, as were all of the
older men. The woman made care packages for the guys in the service. There was
gas ration, cigarette ration, meat and food ration, and nobody bitched, and they
and we would do whatever it took to win the war. We also had black markets too.
There are always some like that in the world. I told you about the lady who
owned the apartment building you Mother and I rented, who was into the black
market, and others like her. Before I left for training to be an officer @ Penn
State I was back working @ Sears Warehouse again and messing with older girls
and having a good old time. I bought a Zoot Suit (dark brown) down in South St.
where they sold all the cool clothes. My Father flipped but I used my money I
scrounged by working and saving. and he just shook his head. It had real wide
lapels. On the Waist length finger tip coat. Pants were High waist, 15 in.
cuffs, wide knees, Slashed pockets on coat and slacks, every thing but the long
chain (didnít want to spend the money) I wore it on my last nite home. And on
the "El" coming home after a lot of drinking, I sat there and tore the
big lapels off, so much for "Zoot Suits", I had gone to our H.S.
senior prom earlier in the year with Alice Gottchell. (She was the Catch of the
city, I lucked out.) We had the dance in a big hotel (Ritz Carleton) downtown
Philly. I got totaled. I had 3mos. earlier stole a full bottle of whiskey from
Dad's liquor cabinet. I snuck down stairs one nite on a social nite when my
father had guests and I knew the cabinet was open, and hid it in the bushes
outside. The nite I got all dressed up in my Tux and showed my parents how I
looked, said goodbye @ the front door went out and went around the corner and up
the back way and found the whiskey bottle and headed out to my prom date's
house. Great nite. I made an impression on the Gottchell family that lasted a
long time. Alice died last year and a friend from Wilm. who was close to her
family went to the funeral in Philly. and he was telling me my name came up and
they remember our prom nite and me especially. (Iíll tell you why some day).
One girl who I worked with @ Sears were pretty close and when I quit @ sears I
didn't tell her. She found out and that last week before I left there she is
knocking at our front door. I saw who it was and said I didn't want to answer
the door. My Mother went and invited her in and this girl named Mary was upset I
left and didn't say goodbye to her. She told my Mother she was so serious that
she wanted to marry me. Now this girl/woman is 22 yrs. old and my Mother
flipped, seeing that I was only 17. I talked to her for a while and walked her
to the bus stop and said goodbye. I never saw her again. I had a neat couple of
girls (Dot Steigerwald, Jean Fee) who I said I would write to. I never did.
Didnít think it would be right, knowing where I was heading into War. It was a
great year and a great life. I said good-bye to everyone. Now it's time to be
what I always wanted to be a "United States Marine" "Semper Fi!
High school graduation, I spent from July to Dec. 1943 @ Penn State with the
Marines. They were sending us thru an accelerated course to officer training. It
was an 8 hr./day of classes, military and college courses. Out of over 800
seniors of the 1943 graduates from North East Catholic H. S., only Kevin Murray
and me were picked for the Marines. It was called the Navy V-12 program. There
were young guys from all over the U.S. going thru this V-12 program. It depended
on how much previous college you had for your length of training they gave you.
College seniors were pushed thru in 90 days, that where the expression on some
officers as "90 Day Wonders" came from. We had 600 Marines training
with a lot of Army Air Force trainees and 3000 girl students (Terrible Duty Ė
Ha!). When my brother Mart finished all his Army training and was sent overseas
to North Africa to fight the Germans, I asked for combat duty, I wasn't going to
let Mart fight the war without me helping. They love volunteers who are
"Gung Ho". I was, and still am. So overseas I went!
all new our Dad loved us. We didn't kiss and hug in those days, a firm handshake
or a pat on the shoulder was very meaningful. He was very affectionate with
Mother. They did every thing together. They were very close and happy together.
Dad graduated from Carnegie Tech Univ. with a degree in Electrical Engineering
and a Master's degree in Management from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Dad was General Mgr. of F.W Tunnell Co. in the Richmond section of Phila. They
made Glue and Fertilizer. Yes he made good money in those days. He worked long
hrs. and 7 days/week like everyone in those days because the war was on. He was
on Phila. Chambers of Commerce board also, which kept him busy. He would come to
my games when he could. I was the only one who played High School, and even
sandlot sports. He loved sports. He was a college champion in rowing. He would
tell some neat stories about the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh area with his
buddy G. Gunning. They were in World War I together. He met my Mother in
Greensburg, Pa. I don't know any details but your Aunt Sue does. He got this job
in Phila. and they got married and moved to Phila. and started our family. Mart
was born Sept. 1922. Mother had 6 kids from Sept 1922 to Oct 1928 (Don is last).
Mother lost a child in 1930. We were living on 13th St then, where we took that
picture of the 6 of us on the porch wall, then we moved to the house(s) on
Caster Ave, where I lived till I left for the Marines.
was one of the 1st 100 hit and injured (burns on arms and shoulder, left side
and a piece of shrapnel in the stomach, nothing compared to Bob Hoopes (my best
man @ my wedding), who almost lost his one leg and a lot of other Marines and
Sailors. We lost 6 Marines that day (January 21st, 1945) and many
more Sailors. It took one week for us marines to search and find all the dead
bodies. It took us a whole week to bury them @ sea. We played "Taps"
for each one as we dropped each into the ocean. I still fill up heavy when
"Taps" are played and I still hear "the sound of the Plunk in my
head when each body hit the ocean water. It stays with you.
was in an accelerated collage/military training program. Graduated June 1943
from High school, then left for Penn State University in July 1943 and was
training to be a Marine Corps officer/college degree in an accelerated program.
We went to classes / trained 8 hrs. / Day 6 days/wk. Left Penn State Dec. 1943,
went thru Parris Island, S.C. for Boot Camp and than in Jan. 1943 on to Sea
School in Portsmouth, VA.
ON TO THE "TICONDEROGA" the two months before it was commissioned as a
20mm/40mm gunner, made runs on Trinidad as part of training, then thru the
Panama Canal to the South Pacific to fight the Japs. Fought in The
China Seas and South Pacific on the "T" thru 5 battles with the Japs
Till we got hit bad on Jan 21 1945 by two Kamikazes and 2 other bombs. And some
near misses, which causes a lot of damage in the lower decks. We were listing
badly and had a lot of damage on the superstructure (they call it the island on
a carrier.) The got us out of there with the help of destroyers and air fighter
cover. This was off the Philippines where we just bombed Luzon and Leyte early
that morning. We were sent home to Bremerton, Wash. Naval Yard for repairs.
Other jobs on ship were Guard duty, 4hrs. on and 8hrs. off, Ship Captainís
orderly, worked maintaining and cleaning my gun battery.
had to be buried @ Sea or on the local islands within 7 days. In Europe they
made gravesites for the dead whatever country you got killed in. You couldn't
ship bodies back to the USA in those days. It would take too long to ship bodies
back to the USA (they would rot) and no big cargo planes like today. Needed
ships and planes in the war zones. That was how war was in those days. The
parents or wives got a Telegram saying you were "KILLED IN ACTION; Very
OF THE THINGS WE DID ABOARD SHIP; WE PLAYED CRIBBAGE A LOT. MANY PLAYED POKER, I
DIDNíT. WE LISTENED TO "TOKYO ROSE" ON THE INTER COM. SHE PLAYED A
LOT OF OUR FAVORITE SONGS THINKING IT WOULD MAKE US LONELY. WE LOVED IT AND
HEARING THEM MADE US SING ALONG. SHE WOULD THEN TELL US A LOT OF PROPAGANDA,
E.G. THE IMPERIAL NAVY KNOWS WHERE WE ARE AND IS GOING TO SINK US SOON. STUFF
LIKE THAT. WHEN WE TALKED TO EACH OTHER. WE ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT OUR FAMILIES AND
OR GIRLFRIENDS. THATíS HOW WE ALL BECAME SO CLOSE LIKE BROTHERS. WEíD HELP
EACH OTHER WITH GOOD OR BAD NEWS, LIKE FAMILY DEATHS, DEAR JOHN LETTERS, SHARED
ALL PACKAGES FROM HOME WHENEVER WE GET MAIL CALL, SOMETIMES MONTHS BETWEEN MAIL
CALLS. WE BOXED A LOT ON THE FLIGHT DECK. SOME OF THE GUYS I CAN REMEMBER ARE
BILLY GILBERT (WE WERE CLOSE BUT WE WOULD FIGHT A LOT TOO). HE WAS FROM ELMIRA,
NEW YORK. HE GOT A DEAR JOHN LETTER WHILE WE WERE OVER THERE, IT WAS TOUGH ON
HIM. GOOSE GOSSLIN FROM MANCHESTER N. H. MY CLOSE PAL, I EVEN VISITED HIS HOME
AFTER WE BOTH GOT STATIONED @ THE PORTSMOUTH N. H. NAVAL PRISON. JIM OíCONNOR
FROM HARRISBURG, PA. (HE WAS WITH ME VISITING PHILA THE NITE I MET YOUR MOTHER)
and Bob Hoopes, from Media, Pa. (my best man @ our wedding) who was wounded
badly the day we got hit (Jan, 21,1945). The old man, his name slips my memory
right now, who was 35 yrs. old (milkman from Conn.). Ted Italian from the coal
region of Penn. Great guys!!!! My
duties from Feb 1944 when I went on board ship were: Capt. Dixie Kiefer's
orderly @ his call 24hrs/day), also training as 20mm gunner & 40mm
crewmember. When in Norfolk, Va. Naval Yard had liberty occasionally in town.
Maneuvers in Trinidad. Then thru the Panama Canal, got a night's liberty in
Panama City (wild time @ a slotshoot named Kelly's) then to the South Pacific,
Hit Pearl Harbor, had 6hrs liberty in Honolulu, Waikiki beach (Wild time). WE
did work parties ----- loading ammunition from barges to nets to ship's
ammunition rooms. Gun watches -- 4hrs. on 8hrs. off.
General Quarters was sounded, you manned your guns and fought the
Japs during attacks on different islands like Guam, Ulithi, Eniwitac, Formosa,
The Philippines (Leyte, Luzon, Mindanoa). During the Typhoon
(early Dec "44") in the China Seas, we had 40mm guns ripped right off
their mounts, the forward end of the flight bent upright by the ferocious seas.
We lost 3 Destroyers and all but 8 men were gone from them, one minute you would
see a Tin Can (destroyer) then the next minute it was gone completely, and much
damage to many ships in the task force you had to hook onto the gun wales to
keep from getting washed overboard. Back to Ulithi for repairs and a strange
Christmas meal. We were eating it and drinking bottle beer shipped into the
island when small 2 man Japs subs snuck in under the nets and blew up all the
small ships that brought us into the beach. It ended Xmas "44" quick.
Repairs fixed, out to combat again. We made raids on the Philippines on the
China Sea side in the early morning, (Jan 21,1945) sailed back to the Pacific
side and most were at noon chow below deck when the Japs came out of nowhere and
attacked. They had about 98 planes, 6 were used as observation planes, the rest
were Kamikazes loaded with explosives ready to dive into any ship of ours. I ran
up on our gun battery, holding a 20mm gun magazine ready to load when the 1st
Jap kamikaze plane hit us. It went thru the flight deck and exploded on the
hanger deck killing and wounding a lot of guys running to their battle stations.
I was lucky I was holding a heavy magazine to load. I got blown up in the air
and then down, but the weight of the magazine saved from getting blown
overboard. Now strapped in guns, we were able to start busting ass. We were
knocking their planes out pretty good when one more got thru and hit the ship's
island where all the officers are running the ship. Capt. Kiefer got 68 separate
shrapnel wounds, the executive officer was killed, many others wounded. We are
now listing badly and fires all over the ship, gasoline flowing all over the
deck causing more fires, blow up some of the planes on deck. We had to get out
because the fires were hitting us. The Marines, who were able, helped the fire
control guys push all the remaining planes off the end of the ship before they
caught fire. We then help put out the fires, flood ammunition rooms, help
wounded. We got out of there with the help of destroyers firepower. The
following week we searched and collected all the dead putting them in mattress
sacks, burying them @ sea during though next week. It was hell. We worked
ourselves back to Ulithi, then back to the States for repairs. Hit Bremerton
Navy Yard around the end of Feb, then home on a 30 day leave in Mar
"45" when I met your Mother Easter weekend.
we got hit on Jan 21, 1945, the names of the dead, wounded, and the ones who
were transferred off the ship after we got hit and got back to the States for
repairs in March 1945 are all missing from the shipís muster list. Guys like
Bob Hoopes (my best man) who was wounded and put on a hospital ship right after
we got out of the trouble area and guys like me who were transferred before ship
returned to the South Pacific for more combat in the invasion of Japan. I got a
30-day (home) leave in March 1945. That's when I met your Mother. I went back to
ship after April 2nd and got transferred to San Diego R and R center where they
then shipped me by train across the country for another 30 day leave in June.
Thatís when we got married (June 16th, 1945. in Linwood, Pa.) I was stationed
@ the Portsmouth Naval Prison from June 1945 to Jan 1947 when I got discharged
once my 4 year hitch was up.
30-day leave in early March 1945 in Philly: Easter Saturday nite is when I met
your Mother @ a party @ Elva Dewald's house in Fairmount Park section of Philly.
I was with Jim Dewald (Elva's cousin) who served with me on the "T"
and was home the same time as me. He lived in Manyunk section of Philly and knew
about the party. I was also with Ed Harvey too. I grew up with Ed, and we played
Sandlot football on the Frankford Shamrocks team in 1941 and 1942 seasons. Your
Uncle Mart married Ed's sister Jane - who was Colleen, Tim, Pat, Kevin, and
Martyís mother. Jane and Ed Harvey lived down the Street from us on Castor
Avenue. That nite, (Mar. 31 1945) was the most Pivotal nite of my life (Met your
mother, Marion that nite). Your Mother is what books Ďareí written about.
Dewald's lived with her parents in a big 3-story house where I met your Mother.
I came from down town Philly in a cab with Jim Dewald (Elva's cousin) who knew
about the party, and also with my old neighborhood buddy Ed Harvey (an Air Force
B-29 Bombardier). As we got out of the cab in front we saw 2 Marines getting
thrown out of the house by a bunch of soldiers. My 1st instinct was to help the
Marines out, but was cautioned by Jim Dewald who reminded me this was his
Auntís home. Went in with Jim and Ed thru the Sun porch, saw Aunt Doris
sitting there, said hello, made a mental note to get back to this great looking
redhead (my favorite). Then went thru a big living room where there were people
dancing, thru dinning room where I was cornered by some soldiers and told they
didn't want any more trouble with Marines. I smiled and asked where the beer
was. The barrel was in the kitchen, which is where I headed. I was talking to
Mrs. Dewald in the kitchen when your mother came in. We started talking, then
went in the living room and danced for a while. Your Mother and Aunt Doris were
getting tired, it was late and time to go home, so I said I'm taking you home.
Thatís what guys did in my day - escorted the girlsí home. Left with your
mother and Doris around 2:00 a. m. Took a trolley car to the "EL' to 69th
st., then a trackless trolley to your motherís apartment. Doris went to bed
and your Mother and I talked and stayed up all nite.
asked to stay over because it was so late. I remember Ed Harvey trying to talk
me out of it because it was so far away. He didn't know I really wanted to take
your Mother home. We talked about all kinds of things and got to know each other
better. We went to Noon Mass @ her church because it was easier to get to her
church by noon than trying to get all the way up to north Philly for mine before
noon. I got home sometime in the afternoon, slept some, and then had my Birthday
dinner @ home with the family. It was Easter Sunday.
was going to meet your Mother @ 69th st. Terminal on Sunday nite. It didn't work
out. My Mother had planned a family surprised party/dinner for me because I was
heading back overseas and my birthday was in May. I didn't have your Mother's
Phone # so that I thought that was the end of that romance. I stayed home with
the family that nite went to bed like a good little boy, was still sleeping
Monday morning when about 10:00 A.M. my Mother yells up that there's a girl on
the phone. Mother didn't like that. In those days Girls didn't call boys. It was
your mother. She wanted to know what happen to me Sunday nite. She waited @ 69th
st. station for a long time. She worked with Elva at the Penn RR Bld downtown.
Elva called her cousin Jim who had my home phone #, He hesitated but gave my #
to Elva who then gave it to your Mother, ĒOur history was made". We
talked and made arrangement to meet @ the Broad & Lehigh RR Station @ 5:00
P.M. where my train to the west coast was leaving @ 6:00 P.M. Your Mother met me
up on the train platform. I said goodbye to my Family downstairs in ticket area.
Your mother stayed with me till the train pulled out. It was like you see in a
movie, I kissed her goodbye, got on the train, grab a seat near a window, the
train is moving out as we are waving to each other and the girl is crying.
took Marion's Home address with me. Gave her my Ship's address. Left Phila. on
the train Tuesday night (April 3rd?), took 5 days to go across country to
Seattle, Wash., then to Bremerton Naval Yard across the bay where the
Ticonderoga was being repaired from war damages. I got transferred off ship to
the 6th MARINE DIVISION training @ San Diego, Cal. Spent 30 days there before
orders changed to go to Portsmouth N.H. Naval Prison. We didnít know it @ that
time but the war was coming to an end.
don't remember everything in the letters we wrote to each other, except to keep
her up dated on my moves - like got new orders to transfer to San Diego after a
trip to Seattle Naval Hospital with a bout of Cat fever, spent 35 days in
R&R @ San Diego, new 30 day leave, put on a train heading East Thru Texas,
cross the Mississippi twice, hit Chicago, east to Harrisburg, Pa., on to Philly.
Arriving home on June 5th "45".
Mother's letters caught up to me in San Diego, we are into May now. One of the
Letters mentioned she thought she might be pregnant. I was floored at first,
then after thinking all about it I wrote and told her not to worry I was coming
home for another 30-day leave before I had to report to Portsmouth, N.H. and
that we would be married. This is what a man/boy did in those days. He married
the woman/girl. I got home on the 5th of June 1945. We started by telling my
parents (she told her mother before). Her
letters just stated she was pregnant. I was floored @ first but was taught to
accept and handle responsibility. I didn't belabor the fact that she was
pregnant, we would handle it the best way we could. I'll never forget the
telegram I received on March 23rd, 1946. I was on Guard Duty on the
Portsmouth Prison Towers. My buddies brought the telegram out to me. It read,
"You are a farther of a 6lb. 13oz. redhead. It was about 5:30 a.m. in the
morning. I walked the tower and tried to figure where the red hair came from, it
took me awhile. I said to myself, my Farther had red hair as a kid, Martin had
sandy hair, Aunt Regina had real red hair and I had red hair under my arms. I
was happy and grateful Tom was healthy and that I had a boy. Very proud moment.
He was 4 months old before I got home to see him. July "45" when my
Dad died the Red Cross got me a special 3-day pass to go home for the funeral.
Very mixed up and very short leave, a lot of emotions. Went back to the Naval
Prison Till January of 1947 when I got discharged. This is when I started my
real family life.
took your Mother up to meet my parents for the first time on a Sunday for dinner
@ our house. After dinner we told them we were going to get Married.
They tried to talk us out of it. We didn't tell them we thought Marion was
pregnant. They gave in and started to help us make quick wedding plans. Quick
marriages during the war were common. (Your Uncle Mart had Aunt Jane come down
to Texas where they got married before he left For North Africa in Sept of
1943.) One day before we got married I was Heading out to your Mother's apt in
Glenolden, Pa. and Stopped in Kensington section of Phila to visit my high
school buddy's Mother. Afterwards I stopped in a club in the neighborhood for a
beer. The next thing I remember is waking up under the "EL" all beat
up and rolled. I somehow got out to your motherís Apartment. That's the story
of your Mother opening up the door and finding me with a black eye and messed
went to Media Pa. courthouse and had our blood tests and got out License.
Friday June 15th my buddy Bob Hoopes (who was home from being wounded when we
got hit by the Japs on Jan 21st 1945) got together in Media and had my bachelor
nite out. It was wild. I got home around 4:00 am. My Father woke me up around
8:00 a.m. It was extremely hot that day. He had me put up all the window screens
all over the house. I sweated out a lot of the previous niteís beer. We all
headed out to the church in Media from our house on Castor Ave. with Mother Dad,
Uncle Don (I really can't Remember if Fr. Tom, Uncle Jack, Aunt Sue were there).
We got there before 2p.m. Your Mother was late, so Bob Hoopes and I went down to
the corner taproom and drank beer while we looked out the door till they arrived
at the church. We got all set, everyone seated, I walked down the church isle,
got to the priest (Fr. Deaver) waiting at the alter. He asked me for the license
to see before he would marry us. I started going thru my uniform pocket, could
find it, I remember saying to the priest it must be out in my Fatherís car.
And I knew if I had to go out and look for it I was not walking back in that
church again. My knees were still shaking from the 1st trip down the isle.
Getting married is scary! Well, the license was in my inside Marine uniform
pocket, so the wedding went on and 12 kids followed (WE buried Joseph M. in
Lansdale, Pa 1957, and Laura Mae in Wilm. 1960) and many years later I'm telling
you about it. We then went over to where you Grandmother Elise lived at that
time. It was in Linwood, Pa., same town as the church. (I can't remember the
church's name right now; it was in Linwood, Pa. also, near Chester, Pa.) The
reception was crowded with us in a small house. I remember one incident where I
had to nail Werner, who was married to your grandmother at that time. He was a
bad man, ask your Aunt Doris about him. He used to hit on, and abuse your mother
and Doris in there teens. Other than that it was a nice day. That was June 16th,
1945. The next nite we had a nite out for dinner at a place in Glenolden, Pa.
The rest of the time we stayed in the apartment. I had $16.00 in my Pocket when
we walked up the church isle. We always managed some how, even though things and
times got tough. Your Mother was a Trooper!!!! The first few days of marriage
went fast and now it's time to report in for duty @ the prison In Portsmouth N.H.
before July of 1945.
nite of Marion and I telling my parents that we were going to get married was
the same nite I introduced your Mother to them both for the 1st time. We told
them we met on Mar. 31st and Marion saw me off @ the train station on Tues. nite
from Philly to go back across the country to return to my ship to go back
overseas again. She was up @ the
tracks, I said goodbye to them downstairs. We told them how we Wrote to each
other during the time between April and June 1945 and now I was home again and
we were going to get married while I was home so I could take her back up to
Portsmouth, N.H. with me to live as man and wife. (There was no mention of
pregnancy). They tried to talk us out of it or to at least wait longer. Parents
try to do that. Because we were so young (I just turned 20 and Marion was still
only 18) and that we should take more time to get to know each other better. We
listened but said we were going to get married now and we just wanted them to
participate in it with us. They saw how set our minds were, so they said they
would go along and help us prepare for the marriage. Between that nite and
Wedding day (June 16th) is when I had the fight and black eye incident (in
Kensington section of Philly) on my way to her apt one-day. I had the
Bachelor nite in Media where my best man Bob Hoopes lived.
wedding was on the 16th and the reception @ her Motherís house in Linwood, Pa.
near the Church. Then we spent from the 16th to the 30th at the apartment where
Doris and Marion lived. Doris went to live with their cousin's Gert (I think,
ask Doris). We had one nite out to dinner @ a place in Glenolden, spent the rest
of the time @ the apt. (No money). I got married on $16.00 after paying for
wedding cost. We didn't get too much money for wedding. Not too many guests and
money was tight in those days. After my 30-day leave was up I went and reported
in @ Portsmouth Naval Prison for new duty. I checked for an apartment and found
a nice one. Marion came up from Philly to Boston on a train, then another train
to Portsmouth. We had a small (1) bedroom, living room, and small kitchen. It
was fine for us. There was a neat Jewish lady across the hall who when Marion
got sick would make chicken soup and take good care of Marion. It helped
greatly. I had duty every day with every other nite off, which I spent @ the
Apt. The war ended on V-J Day, August 15, 1945. I was on duty that day and nite.
Your Mother was able to celebrate the Warís end in town, which was a big
thing. The people went crazy, it was very special.
mother stayed up in Portsmouth till November of 1945, (I think). She wanted to
be home for Xmas and I wanted her home now that she was into her pregnancy
pretty far. She went to live with my parents. She had Aunt Sue's old room, since
Sue was in nursing training. Tom was born March 23rd 1946 in the Philadelphia
Naval Hospital. She brought the baby back my to parentís house. My father got
a chance to have some fun with his 1st grandson before my Dad died in July 1946.
I got a quick 3-day pass to go home for the funeral and saw our Tommy for the
1st time. I went back to duty, spent the rest of my 4 yr. hitch up @ the Prison
till January 1947 when I got discharged. My time was up March 17 1947, but I got
discharged early because of all the time I spent overseas. They wanted me to
ship over but I decided I could do more for my family @ home. So I left my
beloved Marines and started my new life.
sent your Mother home from Portsmouth in November because according to my count
she was almost 8 months pregnant and needed her mother or my mother to help her
thru till the baby was born. Two mothers in the same house don't work. Your Mom
loved my Dad and he had a chance to play with his only grandson till he died 4
months after Tom was born. It was tough time for all. Your Mom moved out shortly
first family home was in Chester, a newly built row house on 22nd St. (363 my
lucky no.) in a 3-block area of new row houses on both sides of 21st and 22nd
Streets. Veterans used our G.I. Bill benefits to buy homes and to go to school.
I went back to college at night school @ Penn State University Extensions &
Temple University in Philadelphia for eight years till 1955.
Mother & Marion were like two strong-minded women together in the same house
and that just doesn't work. I don't know any details, Uncle Don might know more,
since he lived there during that time. I just know your mother wanted to move
out and she did. She didn't ask, she made arrangements with her friend Pat to
move into her apartment with Pat's two kids and baby Tom. They helped each
other. Pat worked and Marion took care of Tom and Pat's two Kids, ages boy-6 and
birth date on March 23rd - I was confused. I figured the doctor
calculated wrong, or your mother did. It was and still is common for the 1st
baby to be late. Tom was here and my job was to get home and take care of my
family and start a new life with my wife and child. We were very young and
confused in those days but from January 1947 on - our family life began. Your
mother had moved out of my parents home by then, my Mother and her didn't see
eye to eye on things. She had moved out after my father died and moved in with a
friend name Pat and her two children. That's where we lived and I got my job @
American Viscose in Marcus Hook, Pa. We bought our 1st home @ 363 West 22nd St.,
Chester, Pa. in January 1948.
Father had a history of heart trouble, he had his 1st heart attack in 1939, and
another bad one in 1941. We had to stay very quite around the house all the
time. He had a hard time breathing also, he had Asthma very bad (his smoking
didn't help). He used to close the Bathroom
door and burn Asthmador so he could get some relief and
a little easier. He still went back to work in 1942. Martin and I left for war a
week apart in early 1943. My brother Tom was in the Seminary. My Brotherís
Jack and Don, and Sue were still living at home during the war. Dad worked hard
during the war. He was our neighborhood Air Raid Warden, and member of the
Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. He helped get John B. Kelly (Grace Kelly's
Father) elected. I also helped nail John B. Kelly's picture posters on the
telephone poles around Philadelphia and pass out circulars. Dad died in his
sleep one night in July 1946. The war was over by then and Uncle Mart was home
and lived across the street with your Aunt Jane. Mart had started going to
Temple Dental School. Dad had always rented houses because his Company paid for
them. So now Mother and Don had to move in with Martin and Jane. Jack had left
for the Seminary and Sue had started nursing school. Mother later moved into an
apartment in the Mayfair section of Philly. Jack came out of the Seminary and
went in the Army, got sent to Germany, pulled his time and got out and went to
the University of Heidelberg in Germany and got a degree before he came home. He
lived wit Mother for a while, then worked in Washington DC with an insurance
company, then moved to San Francisco for many years. Don moved into a house on
Loretta Ave near Martin's house in our old neighborhood. He lived there for
years, and then took his wife Betty and his family to Teaneck N.J. where his
gang went to school for many years. Mother got a job right after Dad died. She
worked @ Wanamakerís Dept. Store in center city Philly as a sales person in
the Fancy Trebot section where all the rich people from Philly, Wilm, and Jersey
shopped. Pocketbooks in her department cost $100.00 per (a lot of money in those
days). The Dupontís shopped there. She loved it there. Later, Mother moved to
an apartment in the Olney section of Philly with her sister Veronica. She would
take a trolley to Broad St. then get the Subway to 15th st. to the downtown
Wanamakerís Store. Mother never worked a day in her life away from the house
till my Father died. But because of her spunk, she went out and got a job and
became an independent woman of the world. She was a quiet strong person. We get
a lot of our "Moxie" from her. Our work ethics and intelligence from
our Dad. Mother's strength to prevail and survive comes from all the loving
years of marriage to Dad. We all survived Dad's death by carrying on his
traditions and training that he gave us. Mother and I would talk on the phone at
times, never long. Mother would ask how things are. She would tell what she
wanted to say and hang up. She would write letters now and then asking how
things were going with us. I never wrote much. Still donít. Never did.
the time I was in the Marines, Mother would ask the Red Cross to track me down
for her and give me hell and try to get me to write home. We would visit with
her with the 'big 8' kids occasionally. We would take a bus to the train
station, get a train to Broad Street Station in Philly, and get the subway to
Olney, the trolley on Chew St to her Apt. In those days we never talked much, we
did our job and took care of our family and 1st things speak for themselves. I
would hold my feelings in, and keep them to myself. Today we learn to open up
and share. It's good and healthy to share for all.
I got discharged in January of 1947, I moved into that apartment with Pat, her
kids and your Mother and Tom in Glenolden Pa. We lived there @ the Apartment
till January of 1948 when we moved into our brand new house we bought at 363
west 22nd street in Chester, Pa. At first we shared our bedroom with Tom. Pat's
two kids had a room and Pat slept on the couch in the living room. We did this
till Pat and her kids moved out around July of 1947. Now Tom had a room with a
small balcony outside. We had the main bedroom and the downstairs living room
and Kitchen. It was nice. Tom was a very fun baby.
Kathy was born December 27th 1947 @ the Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital in Lansdowne
Pa. (same hospital where the twins were born in 1953). We brought her home to
the apartment till we moved to new house. She had a hard time with Colic for
months. We spent a lot of time holding her and walking the floor with her. I had
started working in March of 1947 @ American Viscose Co. in Marcus Hook, Pa.
after about 2 months of the 20/20 club. It was hard finding a job that paid
$1:00/hr or more. We made Rayon, which was used in making clothes in those days.
I started out working in the Spinning Dept. where we spun the rayon fibers thru
a Sulfuric acid bath into cakes. You had to wear a gas mask while you worked to
protect you from splashing acid, which would ruin your clothes, and burn your
skin. Or the fumes would blind you; I lost my sight one period for 3 weeks
during my time in the spinning dept. I went thru all my Marine Corps uniforms
during my time in the spinning dept. I got promoted to a Quality Control
Inspector after 2 yrs. I was going to college at nite at Penn State and Temple
University and taking correspondence courses From Dale Carnegie during those
years. I used to take a bus to Chester, then another bus to Marcus Hook to the
plant. I worked shift work, one wk. days, one-wk. 3 to 12pm shifts, and one wk.
12 to 7a.m. The shift worked helped your Mother with the babies. We shared the
chores. I had one weekend/mo off. We would go out that Saturday nite if we had
the money. We would go to the VFW in Glenolden, they had a band there Sat
nights. I remember the Apt. had lots of rats and mice. Ours was on the 2nd
floor, next to another apt. They would be running thru the walls in the day and
then come into the apt @ night. I would put all the lights out and sit on the
stairs with my Bee Bee pistol and wait till I would here them running around the
kitchen floor, then put the lights on, and they would kind of freeze and I
picked them off with the pistol. It helped keep them down some. You had to watch
rats; they would smell the baby's bottles with milk and get right into the
cribs. Scary! I set a lot of traps. It was hard keeping them down. I was glad
when we moved. I also remember sitting in the big chair in the living rm. and
helping Pat's little boy with his homework.
Your Mother took care of the two kids all the time Pat would work every day and go out every night. We were very crowded, till Pat moved out. Our 1st Xmas was quiet but nice, with Marion due with Kathy any day. Kathy was born Dec. 27th and Tom was so young. Our New Home in January 1948 was so great, with 3 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, Living rm, Dinning rm and Kitchen downstairs and a full basement and a garage. Our housewarming and Kathy's Christening was in March of 1948 and very memorable. I got my Federal Income Tax check back. And we had two of my high School buddies and their Wives there, My WW2 buddy and best man @ the Wedding and Mart and Don, with All of Marion's Uncles and Aunts and her Mother, and friends from work, and Harry and Aileen who now lived with us at the time. This is when we started a whole new part of our life together as a family.