Chapter 2

Covington Street

The Move to Covington Street

At about this time we moved to Covington Street. It was rarely my father’s decision to move, it was more likely our landlords. My father was a man of high principles, and one of them was that one should never pay a debt if there was any way out of it. He would procrastinate as long as possible, promise anything under the sun and finally, failing this, he would dare them to collect. We rarely moved anywhere without an eviction notice, a practice that enabled us to explore numerous houses in both Ogdensburg and Utica until my father finally left us. However, I must get on with this tale.

 And so we moved to Covington Street to meet our destiny, or as the Romans would have it, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” (“So passes away the glory of the world”). It was in the Fall of 1928 that we made the move. I’m not really sure it was in the Fall, of course, but it seems like a good opening for the chapter.

 The Covington Street Neighborhood

Our house sat directly in back of another, so our address was 17 1/2 Covington. It was located about 10 feet from the railroad track. Directly in front were the Lalondes. Next to them on their left was old Mrs. Patterson. Next to us on our left was Liza Bisneau. Old Mrs. Patterson was the widow of a Civil War veteran, who had never remarried. She died shortly after we moved there. It was common knowledge in those days that if you ran twelve times around a vacant house in which someone had recently died, then looked into a window, you would see a ghost. We and our friends spent many nights running around this house, but since no one ever had the nerve to look into a window, I cannot personally vouch for the truth of this belief.

We had little to do with the Lalondes. They were an odd family and had little to do with anyone. Billy Bisneau was the best friend of my brother Dick and I. Fronting the street on our right was the family of Timothy Kelly, our neighborhood enemies. Whey they were our enemies, I don’t know. Perhaps it was because Kelly was an engineer on the railroad while our father was only a fireman. Anyhow, we were not allowed to play with them and they were not allowed to play with us. The Kellys were Catholic also, while we were Protestant. I rather think that every family should have an enemy in the neighborhood and I think that both families showed good judgment in selecting enemies, since we had little in common. Our homes, at any rate were not that close, possibly a stone’s throw away - a distance verified many times by both families.

Gathering Winter Fuel

Since my father worked on the railroad, fuel in the winter was never any problem. My grandfather Como lived with us then, and each day he would take a walk to the yards and pick up a few buckets of coal. Also, when my father was stationed in the yards, he was fireman on a shifter, of which there were two. These shifters were small Baldwin steam locomotives, and their work consisted of moving cars around the yards and making up trains. Each time Pa would go by our house, he would shovel coal off as fast as he could. At times the engineer would park in back of the house to allow him to accumulate a little more.

Steam locomotives burned a very cheap grade of soft coal. It was called Zooey Lump by everyone, heaven knows why. When it was burned in a coal stove, it became very hot. When we burned it in the kitchen range, the stove would turn red hot, as well as all the stove pipes. Often the soot in the flue would catch fire. About all you cold do then was pray. There were many flue fires in those days, because naturally everyone would steal railroad coal. Periodically you would see a chimney spouting thick black smoke and flames. The general thing to do was to damp the fire until the stove cooled and leave the house until it was safe to go back in.

Liza Bisneau

I never knew where Liza Bisneau worked, except at one time he was with the Meerschaum Pipe Company where Diamond National is now. He had a couple of bushel baskets filled with unfinished bowls plus the amber stems. We systematically sneaked into his cellar, put a pipe together and contentedly puffed on our smoke of top grade cornstalk silk. We later had a top grade nausea. But in spite of being violently sick, we never did get over our habit of experimenting with smoking until his supply of pipes had vanished.

Liza’s son Billy, my brother Pete, and my brother Dick found a boat floating down the river, so they pulled it out, and paddled around in it for a week or so. Since it leaked badly, Billy’s father decided to fix it for them. He had a beautiful new boathouse directly opposite us on the river. He caulked it and put a new stern on it. Then, since he had put so much work into it and since his son had helped pull it in, he claimed it for his own. Needless to say, my brothers were a little put out about it. They got their revenge shortly after.

 As it happened, that summer we had the worst storm in history on the St. Lawrence River. The waves were so high that they completely rolled over the railroad slip. And what’s more, the high winds and the waves together smashed boathouses all along the river. I’ll never forget Liza Bisneau, a devout Catholic, change into the rankest Atheist. And the language he used on God that day, I wouldn’t use on a dog. With every wave that his his boathouse, you could see boards flying in all directions and Mr. Bisneau standing on the railroad embankment watching his boathouse being demolished, cursing and screaming and describing the Lord in terms I have never heard in a church, while we were all gued to the window watching his misfortune, and gloating. Justice will triumph, the Lord will prevail. After the storm was over, we took a walk down in back of the cattle sheds. At that time, the river came directly in back of the sheds and there was a stone breakwater on the back of the building. The debris must have been piled 10 feet deep; shattered cabin cruisers, parts of buildings, furniture and everything imaginable. On top of all this, a boom at the paper company broke and the paper company hauled pulp logs out of there for a month.

From the breakwater out, there was a beautiful sand beach, and it was possible to walk out into the river for a block or so and still be in shallow water. All the boys in our neighborhood used to go swimming or wading, minus clothing of course, and we even had a special name for our beach.We called it bare-foot bay - I can’t recall the exact name and frankly I would rather not, since I have no idea who may be reading this. After we came out of the water, we frantically tried to hide all signs of dampness since our parents had a complete lack of understanding of the joys of swimming in the raw. When we came home, my mother would run her hands through our hair and if it was damp, a length of stovewood would be made to do double duty.

Our beautiful beach had a short life, however, since about this time, old Frank Augsbury had opened his newly-built sulphite mill and soon, disgusting blobs of floating stock were competing with the kids. Since this was a bay, everything on this side of the river that floated came to rest here. The beach was soon ruined. One thing that amuses me is the fact that since the time Frank Augsbury took over the company from George Hall, the city fathers would lick his boots at every opportunity, even to the extent of having him the guest of honor at common council meetings. If anyone complained of the pollution of the river, it was done in whispers. It must have tickled him toward the end that unlike his predecessors, he never left a nickel to our fair city. So they groveled in vain. There was one mayor, Ralph J. Morrisette, however, who held old Frank in little esteem. But more about him later.

I believe it was in this year that I started the first grade, and all through school our teachers complained about our posture. Our generation seems to have had a bad habit of slouching in our seats, but there was a good reason for this. In those days, it was unheard of for a kid to sass an adult. the only time a kid ever got snotty with an older person was when he was convinced that he was able to lick him. It was the common philosophy in those days that kids were to be seen and not heard. So if you were caught in someone’s yard, or boat, or gave anyone any lip, you were given what was called a boot or a jack in the - er, well, that part of the chicken last over the fence - with the result that many of us had habitual curvature of the spine in the vain attempt of our upper quarters trying to catch up with our violently propelled lower quarters. Some adults would exuberantly boot you just for walking by them on the street. If you went home and complained to your father, he would tell you that the man must have booted you for something, and he was apt to boot you himself.

Starting School

I started school in the first grade, at No. 4 school, and my teacher was named Miss Rutherford. I had a violent crush on her. That’s why I have never forgotten her name. For some reason or other, in spite of my lover for her, she treated me no differently than the rest of the kids. Her boy friend came to pick her up one day and I could see why she had ignored me. Any one with such a poor taste in men could not be worthy of me anyhow. Besides, come to think of it, she was too old for me anyhow.

John Como Quits School

As luck would have it, the school I attended was the same school that my father had attended until he quit. I think it might be interesting to relate the circumstances under which my father quit. He told this story in the presence of my grandfather, who verified it, so it is probably true, unless they were both liars. At any rate, it would seem that he was in the fifth grade under a teacher named Miss Moore. At the time he was fifteen or sixteen but, as you probably know, life was a little more leisurely then, and no one was particularly anxious to rush through school. Sixteen was the usual time that kids quit school then to go to work, and few kids were prepared to spend half their lives going to grammar school or, even more, preposterous, on to high school. At any rate, he had done something to be punished for, so Miss Moore kept him after school and laid it on real good. After she let him out the door, he hollered back “You old red-headed S.O.B.” and ran down the stairs to the vestibule.

 Unfortunately, the outer door was locked. When Miss Moore caught up with him on the ground floor, she really laid it on. Laying it on consisted of an oak pointer or an equally hard yardstick. where it connected was not so important as the fact that it did connect. After she was exhausted, the dialogue went something like this:

“Do you apologize, Master Como?”

“Yes, Miss Moore.” (many tears)

“Do you promise never to say that again?”

Yes, Miss Moore.” (even more tears)

Then she unlocked the outer door. As soon as he was on the sidewalk he said “You old red-headed S.O.B.” This was wisely the day he decided not to go back to school.

However, the thing did not end there. thirty plus years later I had this same Miss Moore, in the fifth grade. Though her hair was no longer red, there was nothing at all wrong with her memory. Since my father’s name and mine are the same, it was one of the most harrowing years I have ever spent. She died shortly after I left her class and I believe the only thing that sustained her for all the years between my father and I was the though of revenge, which she collected in good measure.

The Neighbors

I should mention in passing, the neighbors I remember. Next to the Kelleys I believe there were the Nugents - two boys, Harold and Woodrow, and there might have been some sisters. But after the disastrous love affair with my first grade teacher, I had little interest in girls. Across the street were the Barrs. I remember one boy, Billy. The Barrs were the rich kids in the neighborhood, they both had tricycles. On the end of the street were the Sharlands, and across the street on the end were the Wilmeys. Next to them were the Neskis, a Polish family. Their father was killed at the paper mill by a falling log. One more I should mention, Joe Bigwarf. He was a friend of my grandfather, and since my grandfather was then 72 years old, he did little work.

 My grandfather would help occasionally at the cattle sheds along with Joe Bigwarf. The railroad hired a few men full time at the sheds, but on some days they were in need of extra help. This city was the last stop between the U.S. and Canada and, as the railroad was responsible for any animal being either imported or exported, the animals were unloaded here and fed. All young calves had to be fed milk and, of course, all milk cows had to be unloaded here to be milked since they were in agony. There were always more milkers than there were calves, so my brother Dick and I learned to milk at an early age. Each night we would go to the sheds and milk a cow or two. We kept the milk we got and brought it home. For years, all the milk we ever had was obtained in this way. My mother would make bread every night, using milk instead of water.

Food

Everyone made bread then, and I think this generation has missed a lot because few have known the pleasure of hot bread fresh from the oven. It might seem hard to believe, but on those occasions when, for some reason, it was necessary to buy store bread or canned goods, my mother would insist that we sneak up the railroad track so the neighbors would not know. On a lot of the items it was necessary to bring your own container since many things were sold in bulk, such as vinegar, syrup, pickles, etc. Also things like hams and bacon were never refrigerated, but hung in the meat markets on the walls. They were heavily smoked and the flies had little interest in them. If you bought bacon, you were handed a chunk and you sliced it at home yourself. The hams, when they were bought, were sometimes green. But after this was sliced off, you had a treat that none of the insipid hams or bacon of today could approach.

The New York Central Railroad

My father still worked for the railroad at this time, and it was the policy of the railroads to give every employee of the road a pass which was good for a free ride for any member of the family at any time. This was quite an option for the New York Central, as at this time it was the largest railroad in the country. I believe the end of the trackage was at St. Louis, Missouri. It owned trackage as far north as Montreal and I am not sure how far south the lines extended but, at any rate, I will dwell upon this a little later. My father had a desire to see his sister in Utica which at that time was the knitting center of the country. Rayon had been invented shortly before, but had not yet been any threat to the silk industry, since people distrusted synthetics. But it later caught on since it was practically indistinguishable from silk and was a hell of a lot cheaper.

Wife Swapping

What I have to relate now may seem puzzling, but it was also a little screwy to me. My father had a sister named Leona and my mother had a brother named Jack. The brother and sister married brother and sister. In other words, Earl and Leona Como married Jack and Elizabeth Recore. When we got to Utica and were staying with my Aunt Leona and my Uncle Jack, the people downstairs were Mr. and Mrs. Don Davidson. While we were there, my uncle Jack took off with Mrs. Davidson and my Aunt Leona decided to shack up with Don Davidson. All clear now? I was afraid of that. My uncle took his paramour to Massachusetts, so I have heard, and he was never heard from again.

Don Davidson was a Jew, but he was unlike any Jew I have ever heard of. He was the most generous and gentle man I have ever met and he also adored my Aunt. Once in a lifetime, perhaps, you meet a real prince and I say this with all sincerity - Don was one. I must confess that Don Davidson showed more love for the kids in our family than my father ever did. Here again, I shall have to leave this for a later time.

First Popscicle

It was here that I had a popsicle for the first time. I had never had one before so apparently they had not been around too long. At any rate, I dropped mine on the ground and my mother told me to go to the sink and wash it off. I guess I was a little slow because by the time I thought it was clean enough, it had completely melted. To this day, in spite of all the popscicles I have had since, I have always felt I was one popscicle behind.

 Guts

It was also at this time that I overheard my parents talking of a young girl that had piles and that she would periodically expel her entrails into the toilet. As you can probably guess, my parents were far from being up on science. Every time thereafter that I was bothered by constipation, I would go off my myself to an abandoned building in back of the cattle sheds. I felt that if I were about to lose my entrails, I wanted to be where no one could hear me scream. Besides I didn’t want some joker running off with them or walking al over them before I had a chance to stuff them back inside. Also, each time my father admired a man for being courageous or a great fighter, he always made the remark that he had a lot of guts. I don’t know what the amount of guts a person possessed had to do with courage, but knowing myself to be somewhat chicken, I figured I had little to spare.

Swallowing Money

While I am on this line of thought, I must tell you that my grandfather would occasionally send one of us to the store to get him a package of Beech Nut or Yankee Girl chewing tobacco, which cost fifteen cents. It was bound to happen that occasionally while running I would lose the dime or nickel, so I hit on the idea of carrying the money in my mouth. Germs were not a factor then since we figured the what one couldn’t see didn’t exist. Of course the inevitable happened - while panting from running, I swallowed one of the coins. The first time this happened, I went back and told my grandfather. I though I would have to have an operation or something drastic, but he reassured me by saying it would pass out of my system in a day or two. I didn’t believe him, but just to double check, each time I had to go from then on I would go outside and then poke through the debris with a stick and, sure enough, there was the nickel or dime. Of course, I was delightfully astonished and until I heard of Einstein, I csidered my grandfather the greatest scientist who ever lived. I never lost a coin after that and although I never deliberately swallowed a coin, I occasionally had a windfall. If my salvage attempts seem a little sticky, bear in mind that a nickel then, through judicious shopping at the penny counter, could keep a kid in candy all day. Of course, any kid with a dime was filthy rich and could go first class anywhere. Bear in mind also that many technicians were doing the same thing in hospitals for science, whereas I was doing it for greed, which was far more important.

Doing the Laundry

It was about this time that we caught up with the twentieth century, or maybe it caught up to us. At any rate, my mother had always used a scrub board to do the family laundry. If you don’t know what that was, it was a board that you stuck into a large wash tub. The board was serrated all the way down, presenting a rough surface. It had a place at the top to hold the soap, and the clothes were cleaned by pulling a wet piece of laundry out of the tub, dousing it liberally with laundry soap on the board, then scrubbing it up and down on the rough surface until it was considered clean. You would then dive into the tub for another article of clothing until all the clothes had been properly mauled, at which time they were wrung out by hand and rinsed in the sink to get the soap out, wrung again tog et the water out, then hung outside on a clothesline to dry.

Making Soap

The soap used for laundry was a yellow lye soap called “Fels Naptha”. This soap was also used for baths, washing faces, hair and even sometimes even teeth. My mother saved all her grease from cooking and when she had enough, she made her own soap. this soap was made by pouring a can of lye mixed with water into the collection of grease. The lye was made from wood ashes, and when refined was called pearl ash. At any rate, the lye had an intense hatred for the grease which was equaled only by its reciprocal hatred for the lye. By the time each had fought to a standstill you would up with a pan of light-colored soap which was strong enough to eat the freckles off Tom Sawyer. I have often thought that if the negroes had bathed in my mother’s lye soap, we would not have the color problem that we have today.

First Washing Machine

My mother’s hands were permanently misshapen from her years with the scrub board. Anyhow, my father finally bought my mother a washing machine. I believe it was an 1865 model. It had a large wheel on the side with a hand grip and the tub was larger at the bottom than at the top. What we would call an agitator was a wooden outfit that looked like a milking stool with three legs which rotated a half turn one way, and then back again. The large wheel was turned by a slave or a small helpless boy. After an interminable time and aching arms, the washing was considered done. Needless to say, on wash day everyone, including my father, had urgent business elsewhere. When my mother rose in the morning she had the entire house all to herself, with not even breakfast to worry about. This contraption disappeared not too long afterwards. My father’s next offering was a hydraulic machine that was attached to the kitchen faucet with a hose emptying into the sink. All the work was done with city water pressure. This machine, however, had an innovation which the long-dead inventor must have been proud of, to wit, a hand-operated wringer attached to the side. Any of the kids who were a little slow on the getaway could consider themselves sentenced to cranking this infernal device for the rest of the day. This last machine caused me a lot of worry, since I was afraid we would run out of drinking water. The St. Lawrence River was about 200 feet away, but to me there were two kinds of water - drinking water out of the tap, and swimming water in the river. It never occurred to me that they were one and the same. However, this machine, too, disappeared one day. Knowing my father’s reluctance to pay for anything, I suspect it was repossessed by some Civil War veteran who probably sold it to a legitimate museum where he was a little more certa of being paid.

Kerosene Lamps

Another Ante Bellum device which we were all familiar with was the coal oil or kerosene lamp. At this time a house wired for electricity was far in the future. The kerosene lamp was not really that much of a problem. the wick had to be kept trimmed or it would smoke the chimney up. If it were turned too high it would do the same, so it required constant care. If the kerosene was a little low and the wick would not reach, a little water poured into the base would raise the oil level up until more oil could be obtained, or until the lamp burned out. For some reason the water would never bother the wick and with the addition of more oil you were back in business again.

To my knowledge my mother never owned an ice box or fridge. In those days we went to the store, bought perishables and they were consumed the same day. Our cupboard consisted of baking powder, potatoes, coffee, tea, salt and pepper, and that was about it. We never had any garbage since everything was consumed except coffee grounds, tea leaves, potato peelings, bones and egg shells. The stock market had crashed by this time, but it never really hit rock bottom until 1932. Nevertheless, there were never any leftovers in our house. My parents always bought not quite enough and so we went to bed just a little bit hungry every night.

Dad Loses His Job

My father, true to his scruples, bought a suit which he refused to pay for, so his creditors garnished his wages. The New York Central, like most employers, would not stand for a garnishee and so, when he refused to pay, he was fired. At this time it did not matter too much because he became a confirmed alcoholic and rarely brought his pay home. As a matter of fact, after my father was paid, he would go on a binge and neither my mother nor the railroad could find him until he was dead broke and he had to sober up. Years later many men mentioned that my father was a prince, but I was not impressed. These were probably some of the bums he spent his pay on. You can be sure that any prince at a bar, who likes to buy the house a drink, is far from being a prince at home where his family is worrying about where their next meal is coming from. If I seem bitter, I suppose that I am, in a way. Nevertheless, I realized that my father was helpless. Heaven knows that I saw him beg my mother for a half dollar oeven a quarter for a shot because he was suffering so. Make no mistake, I loved my father and idolized him until he died. I am trying to make this as factual as I can, and so I present my father with all his faults and also with his virtues, of which he had so many.

About My Father

I suppose it would be appropriate at this point to mention my father. For many years he was a coal passer on the Hall boats. This was during World War One and since the government confiscated all the steel boats for shipment of war materials to Europe, the only boats left to fill the contracts for George Hall were old wooden boats. I should mention at this point that George Hall had modern steel boats while Frank Augsbury had some old wooden boats. Since the government had confiscated Hall’s steel boats, Hall was forced to take Augsbury as a partner to fill his contracts with his shippers. Another example of the ruin the government forced on decent businessmen while allowing the Augsbury types to cash in on their misfortunes. At any rate, my father worked on two of these boats. The Liberty was one and I can’t remember the name of the other. Shortly after the war they were tied up in back of the present Diamond National, and were ultimately sunk to provide a foundation for the dock which Augsbury builout to deep water. I saw these boats anchored there when I was a kid and when I went to work for Diamond the ribs of these old boats were still visible.

After these old wooden boats were discontinued my father went to work for the New York Central as a fireman. I have talked to some of the engineers on the Central and apparently my father was popular. Every engineer wanted him on their locomotive as he was a hard worker and the steam was always up while he was on. I have ridden on a few loco’s my father fired on and I can personally attest to this fact.

He never weighed over 160 pounds, but he had unlimited energy. He was also very clean. Many times I have seen him come home after a run and go through the house from top to bottom, mopping every floor. Before he died he would go to his neighbors apartments in Utica and scrub their floors, simply because he hated dirt. When he was not drinking, he was the most thoughtful of men, and the most gentle. During the dark days of the depression it was my father’s faith in the future that sustained us more than anything else. He was a master story teller. He had rosy plans for the future, and he really believed the things he said. He had a power of description which was extraordinary, and not only his family but everyone else was fascinated when he began to talk. When he had the floor you could hear a pin drop. He had little to give but himself, but himself he gave like a king. Because he believed, we also believed.

Before he was fired from the railroad, I had a small accident. The cars in those days had a folding roof. I believe they were called touring cars. Our next door enemies, one in particular, Hank Kelley, had lifted a part of a folding car roof over his head. Just as I ran by he let it drop, naturally on my head. I believe he fractured my skull and my head was covered with blood. As my mother was washing my head in the sink, my father passed by on his way to Utica on his locomotive. He looked in the window as he passed by and all he could see was my head covered with blood. He had to stay with the train, but he caught the four o’clock milk train back the next morning to see if I was still alive. Very few people went to doctors then, but we had an old woman in the neighborhood who was versed in medicine and she came to our place and put sugar on my head to make the blood clot. I have a small piece of bone which has traveled all over my head since that incident, and I still have it. In he course of theast 45 years, it has traveled all over my head.

Ice-Cutting

One of the most exciting events then, as far as we kids were concerned, happened each January when the local ice houses were filled. A large gang of men was hired to saw ice. This was done with a one-man saw especially designed for ice. They would to out in back of the cattle sheds as the water was still and shallow for probably a hundred and fifty feet or so out into the river, so the ice froze solidly and very thick. One large ice house was on the shore not too far from where the cutting was done and the ice was skidded into the ice house directly from he river. We were not concerned with this operation as it offered little prospect for kids, but there was a large ice house opposite Arnold’s Brewery that took in half the block. The proprietors would hire farmers from all around to haul ice into it.

The farmers then had heavy wagon boxes mounted on massive bobs which they used for all their winter hauling and being the slack season on the farm, they would bring their teams or lease the whole outfit to the ice house owners who in turn hired their own drivers. My grandfather cut ice for many years in this operation, but being then in his seventies he drove a team in the last years. The bobs projected back of the box for a couple of feet, so we kids would ride the bobs down to the ice house. When we reached there, we would immediately catch another team going back to the river. This went on for a couple of weekends. There were other ice houses scattered around town, but my mother would not allow us to get too far out of the neighborhood.

The railroad had its own ice house. The coaches and Pullman cars had bunkers underneath which were filled before the train left, to cool the drinking water. The ice blocks were covered with sawdust and the house was filled. This kept the ice from melting until the following year. On real hot days of the year we would sneak into the houses periodically to cool off. No air conditioning of this day was as cool as those dark, windowless buildings with ice stacked clear to the roof.

The Ice Man Cometh

It was a big event on hot days in the summer when the ice man made his rounds. He drove a wagon with several cakes of ice lying under a thick piece of canvas. I think that all icemen loved kids. After the filthy rich people who owned ice boxes gave their order for fifteen or twenty pounds or whatever, they always managed to do a sloppy job of splitting the cakes so as to give all the kids in the neighborhood a sliver of ice to suck on. These days you can go to your fridge and get all the ice cubes you want and it is probably hard to imagine what a rare treat a piece of ice could be in those hot days of summer. I say this in all sincerity, that the ice man was far more popular with kids then, than the Good Humor Ice Cream man is today. He was followed by kids in different neighborhoods all along his route. If you think kids were excited over simple pleasures then, you are right. With no radio, television, or anything else along those lines, we had to take pleasure in any number of outside distractionsor dream up our own fun.

Celebrating the Fourth of July

The other great day we all looked forward to was the fourth of July. My parents somehow always managed to buy us a few firecrackers and we hoarded them carefully so they would last the whole day. Everyone in the city then wanted to be the first to celebrate the fourth, and so it was nothing to be awakened about three in the morning by someone lighting a large firecracker. Of course he must be answered by someone else in the city. From this point, the race was on until late in the evening of the fourth. A widower next door, Johnnie Bisnet or Bisneau would always buy a large supply of night fireworks and the whole street would come over to watch him shoot them off. My Aunt and Don Davidson came for a visit on the fourth of July in 1930 and brought a whole case of five inch firecrackers. The case had fallen off a truck in Utica while they were on their way to Ogdensburg. Don’s car was in back of the truck when the case fell off, so he stopped and picked it up. When he was it was a case of firecrackers suddenly developed engine trouble and, of course, he was unable to catch the trucker to return it. As Tiny Tim would say: “What a fourth that was!”

I believe it was in 1930 that my Grandfather Como had a stroke. My father sent him to Utica for my Aunt Leona to take care of. He had to be fed by a tube down his throat, which he dislike intensely. He died a couple of months later. My great aunt, Vina Nevins, assumed all costs for my grandfather’s funeral. She was his sister. Although I have tried, I have been unable to find out where he was buried. Also in 1930 my sister Doris died of diphtheria. She was about six months old. My mother was holding her in her arms, and all at once she turned to my father and cried “Earl, she’s dead!” My father picked her out of my mother’s arms and laid her on a bed in the front room. My Aunt Lena, my mother’s sister, was sent for and she came and washed by dead sister. She was then taken away. There was no wake. I never asked my mother what happened to her. My father was not working then. I hope they managed to find a small box to bury her in. Also about this time, Johnnie Bisneau shot himself with a German Luger, a souvenir he brought home from the war. I saw him before the police showed up and it cured me forever from rubbernecking on the misfortunes of others. I am quite willing to help anyone, in any situation, but if I cannot be of any help, and more qualified people are present, then I leave them to what privacy I can. Rubbernecks are an anathema to me. I hope that in a similar situation, the local snoops will extend to me the same courtesy that I have extended to so many others.