Family · memories · Other Pointed Topics

Letters from Aunt Roe: #1

My grandmother is an enigma to me. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to meet her. I have a photograph of her that I keep in a book on my coffee table and flip through it on occasion just to look at her. Her sister Rose, my great aunt, is the only one who made an effort to build a relationship with my mother after my grandmother’s passing.

My great aunt Rose was gorgeous when she was young. Her husband, my great uncle Jim, was a looker too. Handsome as the day is long and such a good, good man. My Mom adored him. They both had movie star quality looks, and from what I gather, they were wonderful people.

After my grandmother died, my grandfather forbade my mother from having any relationship with my grandmother’s family. There have always been some unanswered questions leading up to my grandmother’s death and the years that passed after she died. She was only 32. So young. My mother has spent most of her adult life, with that void. She knew why she took her own life but could not truly understand how she could do such a thing. I think my Mom is at some peace now. I cannot imagine my mother leaving me when I was nine years old and what kind of impact that would have on me deep down. To me, she is my bubbly, opinionated mama, who laughs at my jokes, and loves me unconditionally. For that, I am grateful!

My Mom had a strong bond with her aunt Rose. Her namesake by the way. They reconnected after several years of not having a relationship because as I mentioned, my grandfather would not allow it. When they did reconnect, they wrote to each other often and kept in touch via phone until it was time for Rose to leave this world of ours, just two years ago. My Mom has always talked so fondly of her and still does to this day.

Recently, my mother was cleaning out a cabinet in her room and ran across memory upon memory: Drawings my siblings and nephews did as children, books with my name inscribed in the inside cover, photographs, cards, notes, and letters. One letter, in particular, grabbed my attention. My great aunt Rose wrote about post World War II. She wrote the letter in 1996. How amazing, to have a piece of American history in my hands. I read it and felt compelled to share. It was such a different time back then. I found it endearing, hope you do too.

1946 Era after WWII

Lives were starting to settle down; couples who were separated because of the war were getting married and looking forward to having a family. Some chose to use their GI Bill to go to college. We bought our first home (3 family) under the GI Bill for $6,500 and only needed $100 for closing fees. Young people could stop dreaming and start living a normal life again. Automobiles were being manufactured again.

Service men went back to their jobs. G.E., the Woolen Mill, Paper Mills, etc.

Trains were the predominant mode of transportation. Buses were a means for everyday transportation, the fare was $.06, and it ran from 6:00am to 11:00pm.

Main Street was popular with its department stores, five & dimes, $.25 hot dogs and Root Beer. Many restaurants flourished as well.

People were friendly, stopped and had a coffee or just a chat.

Nightclubs were popular; all kinds of bands played songs you could dance to, except for that crazy Jitterbug dance and the Zoot Suits (baggy pants with chains hanging down to the floor).

Baseball flourished, hometown teams and of course the big leagues. Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Phil Rizzuto and on and on…

We remember family picnics in the summer. The 4th of July parade with fireworks. Christmas with all decorations on Main Street and North Street, carolers, midnight services at all the churches.

It was the time that Las Vegas started building its casinos.

It was the era of boxing.

We listened to the radio; there were stories, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. It was more constructive, and everything was good.

Our movie houses flourished, and they did not have to rate movies back then. They were clean and entertaining, and cheap $.05, $.10, $.25. The best entertainment!

Women wore snoods – put all your hair in a “fish like net.” O boy we were jazzy. Ha! Ha!

Do not forget our popcorn wagon. It is still at Berkshire County Savings bank on the corner of North and East Street.

How things have changed. The 4th of July parade goes up First Street now. It is just not the same!

Remember the Union Train Station where our service men left for the war and arrived back home? They had yellow taxi cabs stationed there and a news and candy counter.

I am enclosing some postcards. I will get more if you would like to have them. I thought the Hancock Shaker Village card was interesting. My son Jim bought an old house there. He is fixing it up. It is on 4 acres.

I hope this helps you a little and I will try to seek out some more information. I’m getting ready for my Grandson’s wedding on 6/29. I will be the only grandparent there, and I feel privileged to do a reading at their ceremony. It will be Corinthians Chapter 13. Read it. It is beautiful:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

My faith is what keeps me going. I praise him every day in every circumstance.

Going to mail this out now.

Love you,
Auntie Rose
Kisses & Hugs xxooxxoo

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