We are parked at my Cousin David Moore’s get-a-way camp. His wife Melissa took me on a first adventure, canoeing on Lake Kokanee in the morning. Another cousin, Bob Moore joined us at noon. We toasted our get-together and talked about family and it was interesting to compare our basic family experiences.
From right to left, my father William, Bob’s father, John, David’s father, Ward, then brother’s Dan and Leonard, left front row, with our grandmother, Lydia. Daughter Mary, was born after Leonard, daughter Adele, is the oldest, and George, the youngest of the family. Bob was wondering about the order of their births. It surprises us what we forget or failed to think about growing up.
David’s family, Eva, Ward, David, sister’s Joan and Gail. A younger brother Bruce, I have no pictures of. The Ward Moores were city folks and lived most of their life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ward worked at several levels in the Harnischfeger factory for 30 years and died at seventy -nine.
I only have one picture with Bob at about age seven, with his mother, grandmother and sister Diane. He has an older brother, who was probably taking this picture.
Bob’s father was a submarine Commander at the top of his military career and died young at age 52. Bob was only 16 years old when his Dad died. John, (we called him Uncle Jack) was away from home a great deal.
My father was a farmer, logger, welder, laborer, jack of all trades. We moved around a lot. Our fathers did not attend high school, because there was no high school close enough for them to attend without getting their own transportation. My dad died at age sixty-four.
The youngest sister, Mary, recently died at age ninety-four. She is the source of much of our family history. But what we discovered during this time together were some strong, similar family traits.
It behooves me to explain that I hadn’t seen David in over 60 years. And Bob and David hadn’t seen each other in 43 years. It wasn’t because our families were estranged, it was the simple economics of the times.
My father, his brother’s Dan and George, his sisters Adele and Mary, all migrated to the West coast.
Ward, Leonard, & Jack stayed in the Mid-west. Realize that in the 40’s and 50’s, and 60’s, making a long distance phone call was prohibitively expensive for average working people. Relatively few middle class people had gobs of vacation time to take leisure trips, nor could they go flying across country in airplanes. You either drove or took a train. Everyone kept in touch by letter, which was a woman’s responsibility.
David moved to the West Coast about 12 years ago from Pennsylvania. Both he and his wife Melissa are educators.
Bob moved West in 1974 and I’ve had contact with he and his brother Jim off and on in California. Bob is retired from being a Fireman.
What we learned was that our father’s didn’t talk much about their past. In their own homes, they ruled the roost. And, each of us reported being raised in fear of our father’s wrath.
They shared a common frugality. No waste, use everything. Pinch pennies. Stretch a nickel. Make do.
David’s parents rented out rooms in order to help pay for the house. When that was paid for, they lived in a duplex where again, the renter helped pay the freight. Our father’s were hard working, didn’t waste words nor did they discuss family business with their kids. David said that at age 12, his father announced, “Mother has a job, and you are now the cook.” And, just like that he had to learn to learn to prepare meals. His father taught him to cook meat and potatoes type of standard fare.
My father was promoted to a foreman at the factory where he worked. He didn’t want to be in a position to fire friends, so without saying a word to my mother, he quit his job, and moved us to a cheaper, smaller rental. My mother got a job cleaning fish and we kids had to instantly learn to fend for ourselves until he got another job.
In Bob’s family, the income was regular, his mother didn’t work, but his father was absent a lot. So, mother would be less strict, then when Jack came home, he’d lay down the law and the household had to accommodate and switch to a different set of rules.
Twice when my dad was out of work, my oldest brother went to work and sent money home to help out. I worked the cafeteria at school for a free lunch, so it wasn’t necessary to pack my lunch. I babysat and bought most of my clothes for school.
David had jobs as a teen and had to give up certain creature comforts to accommodate renters. He relates this story about his Dad’s upbringing. Ward wanted a motorcycle so he secretly worked a second job, bought the motor cycle and stored it in a friend’s garage. Of course, his mother found out, and without a word, sold the motorcycle and kept the money. That is kind of how things went.
Bob claims he really wants to be a recluse. David says he has a bit of that in himself. We differ greatly in that regard. But, my brother Bill is much like that, a loner. Has lived alone for at least 30 years. Bill married twice, my other four brothers and my sister, married once, divorced and never married again.
The Moore father’s were never demonstrative, they didn’t use the “L” word, couldn’t say “I Love You” even to their wives. Never a hug, or a kiss, or a pat on the rear in public. Maybe it was a generational thing, but I think not.
Our grandmother divorced our grandfather, and not even Aunt Mary knew why. Lydia did tell her that our grandfather, William Senior, was good to her daughter Adele, from a previous marriage, and he was a hard worker. She gave him credit for that.
Bob was a rambler, and took up hitchhiking at age sixteen worrying his mother sick while he was on the bum. He wandered all over the United States, riding the rails, hitchhiking and living from pillar to post. Independence, frugality, wanderlust, learn to make do. That is what life was like. My father bummed around the country before marriage, those many years ago in the same fashion, riding the rails, living in hobo camps after the depression.
I’m looking forward to future contact with my West Coast cousins. Family is still a strong connection, even at this late state of affairs.
My parents were hardworking, loyal, and of their time, just as we are of our time.