(September 2, 1905 - October 3, 1973)
(written about 1965-66)
In the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on July 6th, 1881, a son was born to Andrew Johns and his wife, Mary Ann Hodges Johns and the named him William Thomas. He was to become my father.
On September 2, 1885, in the town of Jermyn, Pa., twin daughters were born to William Culey and is wife, Eliza Jane Stephens Culey and they named them Ruby and Pearl. Ruby was to become my mother.
The Johns family moved to Mayfield, PA., which borders on Jermyn when Will was small. In 1885 a daughter was born and she was named Mary. A few years later another daughter was born and they named her Sarah. A son was born in 1890 and they named him John. Mary Ann was a sickly woman and Will being the eldest of the children helped with the house work and taking care of the children. Will attended the Mayfield school and graduated there with honor on June 15, 1893. He then went to work, working with his father in the coal mines. While loading coal in a car, one day, that was pulled by a mule, he was kicked by the mule and it left a scar just under Will's chin.
The William Culey's had a son and he was named Hubert. He lived only a short while. Another son was born to the and they named him Wallace. He was born lame. He was frail and fair haired. He had a tricycle that he rode quite well. He died at the age of ten in 1905 of scarlet fever. Eliza Jane Stephens Culey died at the age of 38 of dropsy, when Ruby and Pearl were 17 years old.
The Culey family attended the Methodist Church in Jermyn, mornings and evenings on Sunday and the girls went to Sunday school also. Will and his sister Mayme also attended the Methodist Church. William Culey, a deeply religious man, spoke often from the pulpit. It was Ruby and Pearl's job every Saturday morning to shine the family's shoes. Saturday was also baking day for Mrs. Culey. It was Ruby's and Pearl's job also to scrub and keep clean the out house, which was quite a ways from the house. The house was on a mountain. To get to the front door, one had to walk up steps and there was a big porch. The back door opened on the mountain and it was leveled off there, with a sort of patio. The yard sloping up was always planted with vegetables in the summertime and Ruby liked to eat the fresh peas while sitting on the stone wall that divided their yard from the neighbors. Mine cave-ins were not uncommon and the house across the street from the Culey's lost their back porch and back yard in one. When there was an accident at the mines, the sirens blew and the town folk hurried to the mine, always in fear of a loved one or a neighbor being hurt or trapped. The spring rains, as in the case of mountain areas, flooded the creeks and sometimes a bridge would be washed away. The Jessups lived a few doors from the Culeys, across the street and the families were friends. The town was made up mostly of English, Welsh and Irish.
Ruby started to work at the silk mills in Carbondale, Pa. Will was then working in the office of the bus company and sometimes drove the bus on which Ruby rode to work. He was a handsome fellow and Ruby was pretty and shy. The girls riding the bus would make Ruby blush, by saying the bus driver noticed only her. Ruby worked long house at the silk mill and her fingers were sore from handling the silk. The pay was very small and the bus fare was five cents. Pearl went into nurses training at Carbondale, Pa. Ruby and Pearl were identical twins, but where Ruby was shy, Pearl was full of fun. Will had a lot of friends and one time he and five fellows went to Atlantic City for a week and a good time and swam in the surf. Ruby had a lot of friends too and among them was Mary (Mayme) Johns and the Jessup girls.
Will courted Ruby. There wasn't much to do or places to go in the small town. Sunday afternoons they and their friends would walk up to the cemetery and sit there and talk. Some Sundays Will would rent a horse and buggy and he and Ruby would drive up to a place called Crystal Lake. The lake was quite large and there were boats to hire and Will would rent one for a few hours. One Sunday Ruby packed a lunch and they drove and found a nice spot to stop and eat under a big tree. They had just started to eat when they saw a bull charging towards them and the got out and over the fence fast, but the lunch remained. Ruby's father had a concertina, which he played quite well. Some evenings they would sit in the parlor or on the porch with Wallace and listen to him play. Will had gone back to work again in the mines. October 29, 1904, the miners celebrated a holiday. Will and Ruby decided to get married and went to Binghamton, N. Y. and were married by a minister. Will and Ruby lived with her father on 4th Street. Will had a small dog named Rover and when he came there to live the dog followed him and stayed. Ruby was kept busy baking bread and keeping the house for her husband, father and brother. On September 2, 1905, just before noon, a daughter was born to them (4 pounds), and the named her Ruth Pearl. The baby was baptized in the Methodist church with water from the River Jordan, which the minister had brought back from there. Pearl was Godmother for the baby. Rover, the dog, was very fond of Wallace and was with him constantly. Wallace came down with scarlet fever and a bag of camphor was tied around the baby's neck to ward off germs. Wallace was sick for two weeks and died.
In 1906, Will decided he didn't want to work in the mines all his life and in May while helping a friend dig a cellar, he decided to go to Montana where an uncle lived. It was hot in Pennsylvania and the men were working in shirt sleeves. Will left Pennsylvania the next day and started out by way of Buffalo and arrived in Niagara Falls on May 8th and it was freezing and the snow was deep. There he met an old friend from Pennsylvania by the name of Tompkins and got a job in the grain department at the Carborundum Company. He rented a house on East Falls Street and sent for Ruby and the baby. He met them at Buffalo. (Daughter then nine months old). He liked to recall that after the short absence, that the baby pushed him away with both hands, when he tried to kiss her. Later the moved to Sixth Street, across from St. Mary's Hospital in an upper flat that had an outside stairway. I fell down the stairway and rolled all the way to the bottom, (not a scratch) but scared the wits out of Ma and Dad. Mrs. Harding, our next door neighbor, usually came over to visit Ma and have a cup of coffee every morning. Ma was ironing and went to the door, carrying the flat iron. I ran to get the door and one side of my face hit the hot iron. I didn't say a word, just ran and crawled under the bed. The got me out and applied raw potato and the burn left no scar. I fell on a board with a nail in it and the nail went almost through my hand. Aunt Mayme lived with us and worked at the Shredded Wheat for $5 a week. She had a lot of girl friends and there was always one of them for supper and staying over night. She was very fond of me and was always buying me something. Ma and Lizze Harvey were good friends and visited each other. In Lizzie's parlor, she had pretty china knick knacks and the fascinated me and I just loved to get at them. I was forbidden to touch them, but when Ma and Lizzie were busy talking, I'd wander in and play with them until the missed me and then the parlor door would be shut and an eye kept on me. They finally decided that the door be shut when I arrived at the house. One day while they were talking I opened the door and went in and closed it. They missed me and called, but I kept quiet. As the door was shut, they figured that I couldn't be in there, so they went outside calling me. A junk man was going down the street and they asked him if he had seen a small girl and he said no. They didn't believe him and pulled back the covering he had over his junk to see if I was under it. They looked every where around the place and finally came back in the kitchen and decided they had better call the police. It was then that I though I'd better put in an appearance. They were so glad to see me that the china was forgotten for the time being. One day Ma left me with Lizze while she went down town. I kept wandering away and Lizzie decided to put a rope on me and tie to the from porch and then she would know where I was. Glad, seeing me tied, though of me as a horse and fed me pea beans, which I swallowed and my little tummy was like a rock.
Dad's father visited us there on Sixth Street. He wasn't a tall man, but was sturdily built and he had a sunny disposition. We were still living on Sixth Street when he died in Pennsylvania in 1908.
We moved to 17th Street between Pierce and Willow Avenues, the back of the house facing 18th Street. John Johns came to visit us in the winter time and got typhoid fever. I remember him there and being ill and not being allowed near the sick room. He got well and went back to Pennsylvania. We moved to 19th Street (Hookers). It was a big double house and had a parlor, living room, dining room, kitchen and pantry downstairs and there were three bedrooms and a bath upstairs. We had a big heating stove in the living room. Aunt Mayme married and she and Ma were good friends. The Hooker's had a son, a little older than me, a nice boy that I had the urge to hit and every so often did.
On October 2, 1910, a son was born and he was named William Edward. When the baby was about two weeks old, Ma came down with typhoid fever and was very sick and little hope held for her recovery. A bed was brought down and put in the parlor for Ma and the baby was in the living room. A nurse was there day and night. Dad came home from work and cooked and washed and the house clean. Friends by the name of Rodka offered to take me and I said goodby to Ma and my new baby brother and went to stay with them. They were very nice to me and I remember them buying me an airplane which was tied with a string to the dining room ceiling light and I'd push the plane around. The baby that couldn't have his mother's milk wasn't doing well. Substitutes didn't agree with his stomach. Hot water poured over Shredded Wheat and then strained and the baby began to thrive on the Shredded Wheat. Ma got well and I came home again. Willie grew strong and healthy and we were a happy family again. Dad and Ma sang a lot around the house, mostly hymns. Dad liked "My Wild Irish Rose" and sand that often and he had a good voice.
We moved a block up on 19th Street. The Harvey's lived a few houses up and across the street from us. Willie and Floyd played together on the front porch. Kept ma busy darning the knees of Willies stockings. He had a wooden box with cardboard show sets and he chose the dining room to put on his shows. I had to sit and endure them and clap after each performance. If I sneaked away he had no audience and he complained and I had to resume the watching.
Aunt Mayme lived on 8th Street and Linwood Avenue and we visited her and Willie and Lorraine played together. Uncle Bill ran the film at the movie theater on Pine Avenue near 19th Street and we went to the show quite often. I had a habit of putting my feet up on the seat in from of me and one night some one sat down hard and I yelled. Uncle Bill turned the film off and the lights came on in the show. Some evenings Aunt Mayme and Lorraine visited us and Uncle Bill would stop in and get them and there would be lunch and coffee. Willie decided one night when we left to movies that he wasn't going to walk home and sat on the curb of 19th and Pine. We walked about a block and Dad decided that he meant it and went back and got him and carried him home. We went out on the Niagara River often. Dad would rent a boat and we would just sit and watch him fish, sometimes I fished too. We had company quite often and they played cards. Ma and I sat and watched. John Johns stayed with us for a while. He used to stand back of the parlor curtains and watch the girls go by and would say "Oh, you chicken". He got real mad at me one day when I called him to look out the window at a man passing by and he said "There goes and old fart". It was the time of hobble skirts, big hats and long string beads.
There were no houses back of us. The circus pitched their tents a short distance away and I used to go over and look for change after they left. Found a dime once and was thrilled. A blacksmith's shop was about a block away and I liked to watch them working and shoeing horses. A small grocery store was across the street from us and had a delivery wagon and I like to hop rides on it and did until one day when I was enjoying the ride, hands holding tight and feet up on the back of the wagon I was pulled off suddenly by Dad and promptly marched home and sent to my room. Lady next door had a cherry tree and I drove her frantic. I'd climb the tree and eat the cherries, that she had planned on eating herself. She complained loud and clear and I was told to stay out of the tree. Needless to say I was hard on shoes. Dad decided to buy me a pair of boy, high top shoes and I wore them for play. I remember Haley's Comet and I remember how scared some of the neighbors were. Aunt Pearl visited us there and she often took me with her when she went down town. Grandpa Culey visited us, also Uncle John Culey. They both were always perfectly dressed and had mustaches. Grandpa sent a big basket every Christmas with gifts for all. I always got a doll and there would be candy and nuts included in the package. Dad was working at the Union Carbide then and worked shift work. Rode a bicycle to and from work. Remember Ma cooking pork chops and having his supper ready when he got home around midnight. Dad always left a little something in his lunch pail to bring home to me.
On August 31, 1914 a daughter was born and they named her Marion. I had been awake all night with a toothache and even seeing the nurse around didn't arouse my curiosity but when I heard a baby cry in the wee hours of the morning, my toothache was forgotten and I made a dash for Ma's bedroom. The nurse met me there and told me to get dressed and that later I could see the baby. Well I was finally let in the room and sat in a rocking chair. The nurse put the baby in my arms and I held her, all pink and cuddly for a few minutes. I wasn't allowed off the block, but I had 25 cents in my piggy bank so got that out and promptly took off for Pine Avenue. There I bought a pair of booties for the new baby, (white with pink) and I was so proud of giving her, her first gift.
The Carbide had offered Dad a job as foreman in their plant at Crowland (just below Welland) and Dad accepted it. Mother wanted Marion to be born in the U.S.A., so we waited until she arrived and moved over there when Marion was 2 weeks old. Canada was at war and I used to watch the troop trains that stopped there and remember the soldiers singing. Had a time making friends with the kids, they told me to go back where I came from. Went to school, one big room and the bell was rung by hand. The house had no electricity. We used kerosene lamps and had a big heating stove in the parlor. Had a cistern in the back yard and water was brought up in a pail that was tied to a long rope. The next door neighbor had a sink and a hand pump and I thought that was some thing. The winter we were there Ma and I would sit at the dining room table when Dad worked late nights, she mending and sewing and me drawing pictures. The house had a big kitchen and attached to that another room, called a summer kitchen. No bath, back house a short ways from the house, that we got to by walking on boards. Mary (Lizzie) Harvey came over shortly after we moved to Canada and brought Floyd with her. It rained all day, that day and that kid had to go to the john and often. He being little had to have some one go with him and I was elected. Took him to the john and then had to stand outside in the rain and wait for him. I sure was glad when that kid went home. Aunt Mayme and Lorraine visited us and stayed for a few days. It was cold weather and we sat in the living room near the stove.
Spring came and we moved across the tracks up into Welland into a real nice house, electricity, bath, cellar. Went to school, a big one. Dad and Ma bought a Victrola an we all enjoyed listening to the records. Dad worked shift work and would take me with him to an occasional movie at the one movie theater. He always stopped at the ice cream parlor and got a coke for himself and an ice cream cone for me and would buy candy to take home to Ma and the kids. Marion never crawled, she slid on her backside to get where she wanted to go. The kid next door was bigger than Willie and one day hit him. For doing that I threw a stone at him and hit him in the forehead. He went crying to his mother and she came over and raised the deuce. Luckily for me we had had a heavy rain and the cellar was flooded with a good 8 inches of water. I dragged a wooden box to the middle of the cellar and stood on it until things cooled down. Ma and the kids mother saw me there, but wouldn't wade out to get me.
We had chickens and rabbits and every so often the rabbits got loose and we had a time gathering them up. Had a Scotch neighbor and I used to marvel at the way she washed blankets. A big tub in the back yard and with bare feet would jump up and down on them. Neighbors across the street were French and I loved to hear them sing and spent a lot of time on their front swing, warbling along with them. Halloween came and I borrowed Dad's best Derby unknown to him and which some kid promptly kicked the crown out. Believe me, Dad wasn't pleased about that. He had a couple of old derbys but I chose his best. Some of the men that worked for Dad (Hungarians) used to come over and cut the wood Dad had and we used that in the kitchen stove. A couple of them came over at Christmas and brought gifts for all. Ma got a beautiful hand painted dish and I got a bright red woolen scarf, narrow and about two yards long.
John Johns was with us again and Dad's mother came for a visit. She didn't think me a very lady like girl and one day while waking we passed a school and I grabbed the iron railing they had around the yard and flipped over it. She darn near fainted and said "I'll tell your Pa when he gets home, you're a bad girl" and she did. Dad said he'd give me a spanking and I took off fast, him after me. I always could outrun him and I know the reason I could, he let me. Aunt Mayme came over often with Lorraine. The dinning room chairs were turned over on their side and Bill and Lorraine had a fort. Marion would grasp the chair and pull herself up and Lorraine would push her fingers off for doing that. I'd push lorraine on her fanny and then I'm in the dog house again. The Harvey's came over quite frequently. We went to the Falls and to Buffalo to shop for clothes. John Johns used to go over to the falls on weekends and stay with Aunt Mayme. One Saturday I begged to go with him, he didn't want to take me and said so, but finally agreed. Well everything started out fine. Rode the train to the American side of the Falls and then and there were taken off and questioned. Seems some girl about my age and description had been reported missing and the border was being watched. They asked my name and who the man was. They questioned me alone and asked if the man had made me say that he was my uncle, etc. They kept us there for quite a while and finally let us go. Got the street car and went to Aunt Mayme's, she lived on Second St. up over a store, across from the depot. John was furious, said that I had spoiled his weekend and that he would never take that brat any place ever again. Poor John. It was kind of exciting to a little girl.
We moved back to the U.S.A. and we were all happy, especially Ma. Dad started to work at the Carborundum Co. in the Coated Abrasives on May 31, 1916. We lived on the corner of Linwood and 15th St. up over a grocery store owned by two brothers named Whitcop. Early one morning we awoke and smelled smoke and we got out of there fast. Dad carried the Victrola down the stairs on his back. Ma had her purse hanging on a door and when I got half way down the stairs, I remembered it and went back and got it. The fire was in the cellar and it wasn't long before it was put out. The place was full of smoke and we spent the rest of the night with a neighbor named Lampman. Mr. And Mrs. Lampman often took me out with them and she taught me to crochet. Aunt Mayme moved to Buffalo and we went up there every so often on Saturday. Sometimes Uncle Bill and Dad would go to a show and Ma and Aunt Mayme would sit and Talk. Louie lived around the corner from us on Willow Ave. I don't remember him, but Ma remembered him chasing me home and claiming I cheated while playing marbles. We moved from there to 13th Street, just below Whitney Ave in a flat. Mother's Dad lived with us for a while and worked at the Carborundum as a sweeper. He had been quite a tall man, but was bent way over and was ill with miner's asthma and was a sick old man, a little over sixty, but looking much older. Bill was pushing Marion's sulky cart (stroller) back and forth on the side walk in front of the house one day and it tipped over and Bill fell on it and the pointed end put a nasty gash in his neck just under his chin. He was rushed to the doctor and stitches were put in. Aunt Pearl visited us and brought along her Persian cat in a wire cage. Cat got into every thing and wouldn't let me pet him. Grandpa Culey got too weak to work and said he wanted to go home and left for Pennsylvania. He died a few weeks later and we all went to Pennsylvania for his burial. I'm still hard on shoes and Dad takes me to a rummage sale and buys be a pair of grey high top ladies shoes. They laced up the front and the toes were pointed. The were a little too large and the toes curled up. Went to the park on Sunday with two girls. One had a camera. They chose a spot about half way from the Falls and the bridge and sat on a stump. I just got the right to take a picture and there was nothing. Went over to see and found them in the water. (Water at that time was slow moving near the bank). If they had landed another foot out, they would have hit the rapid water. I called for help and a crowd gathered and a park policeman pulled them out and they were taken to the rest room and their clothes dried. Needless to say, there were no more trips to the park for us. Bill got a sore throat that lasted for a few days and cleared up, but Bill didn't appear well and a doctor was called in. After examining him, the doctor said he though Bill had diphtheria and would probably be feeling well soon.
We moved to Pierce Avenue, near the church, front of house facing the alley. I was transferred to 22nd Street School and my name was recorded wrong and my report cards have St. Johns, which I never bothered to correct. Bill wasn't getting any better and was taken to other doctors and they could find nothing wrong. Ma and I pulled him on a sled to a doctor for x-rays and they shoed nothing wrong and Bill's legs seemed to be getting weaker. Bill was taken for many x-rays and x-rays were taken of his whole little body. Spring came and Dad planted a small garden. It was my job to pick the potato bugs off the potato plants. I sold soap and soap products and got a wicker rocking chair for the parlor. Aunt Pearl visited us and she was thee when Dan and Ma called in a specialist to look at Bill. He could only walk about 12 feet and his legs would give out and he would fall down. The doctor put Bill on the dining room table and stuck a sterilized needle in his leg and there was no feeling at all. I stood there and watched the needle going in and remember the anguish on every one's face, when the needle wasn't felt. Doctor advised exercise to try and strengthen Bill's legs. Bill never complained and sat and looked at pictures and he could read quite well too. He liked me to read to him and I did often. Fall came and Bill got scarlet fever and went to the quarantine hospital and a week later I got it and was sent to the pest house too. Ma came out every day to see us through the window and talk to us and bring us cookies. There were no houses around the pest house then, just wide open fields. Bill stayed there for three weeks and I stayed for five. The skin just wouldn't leave me. I ate applesauce every morning and vowed I'd never eat it again. Heard the nurse taking to Ma and saying that Bill was her Sunshine boy, but that I was muley. Marion escaped the scarlet fever.
Dad read a lot and I was sent to the library for the books. He sent me to the library one night after supper, when we lived on 15th Street and coming back I got caught in an electrical storm and a downpour. When I got home Dad was sick to his stomach from worrying about me, out in the storm. When Bill and I got scarlet fever, the library books had to be burned. I read everything Dad did and that included "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and pocket editions of the Frank and Dick Merriwell books. Bill still wasn't well and exercise didn't help him one bit.
Winter came and on January 3rd, Aunt Pearl died. She had been working in Toledo, Ohio as a superintendent of nurses at a hospital there and got the flu. She decided to go back to Pennsylvania to Carbondale, where she had a room that she had furnished. It was a old morning and the snow was deep. Ma was down cellar putting coal in the furnace and she called up to me to answer the door. I went to back and front doors and there was no one there and told Ma. She came up quickly and looked out and the snow hadn't been walked on and she looked at the clock and it said 11 o'clock and she said "Pearl is gone". We got a telegram shortly and Pearl died at 11:00 A.M. Ma went to Pennsylvania and took Marion with her. Bill was too weak to do any traveling. I stayed home from school to look after him. We cooked on a coal stove in the kitchen and one day while making supper I had a time with the draft, the coal just wouldn't burn properly. I had opened a can of tomatoes and had that in a pan on the stove and was trying to fry some kind of meat. Little Bill was following me around the kitchen and stood too close to the stove and I was afraid he would get burned and told him to move away and when he didn't I gave him a little push. Well, he being weak, fell backwards flat on the floor. I sure was scared and got his head in my lap and begged him to get up. He got up smiling, poor little fellow and I hugged and kissed him. From that time on Bill gradually started to walk better and when spring rolled around he was strong and healthy and running and racing with the neighborhood kids.
In July 1919, Dad and Ma bought a house at 1715 Pierce Avenue and we moved there. I got a job at the 5 and 10 cent store on Falls St. Went back to school in the Fall (Cleveland Avenue) and Bill went to Whitney. Saturday afternoons were spent at the 5 cent movie theater on Main St. I had to take Bill with me. If a boy happened to walk home with me after the movie, Bill just walked along until we got to 17th Street and he would take of running to tell Ma, so I'd say so long to the boy on the corner of 17th Street. Some Sunday mornings we had fish (bloaters) for breakfast. Ma would put the bloaters in a long handled toaster and hold over the hot coals in the furnace and the fish was delicious. The big treat was when Dad make pancakes on a long iron griddle, using ham fat for grease and the house would be full of smoke but the pancakes (large) would be delicious. Floyd Williams and Bill are friends. Mrs. Newing and Ma are friends and the girls are at the house every day. I made Marion a sweater, which she wore with pride. The flu hit again that winter and early after the first of the year, Dad got it and was very sick for two weeks in bed. A week after he took sick I got the flu and then pneumonia. Dad was in the back bedroom and I was in the front bedroom and it kept Ma busy. Prayers were said for me at the Pierce Ave. Presbyterian Church and Dad got out of his sick bed to kneel and pray for my recovery. The crisis came around midnight. The doctors said there wasn't anything they could do and had prepared Ma and Dad. I was gazing at a beautiful, serene, pale blue with white clouds that seemed to beckon me. There was a mist about a foot high, separating me from it and I raised one foot and got it over and it was brought back. I opened by eyes and saw Dad and Ma and two women from the church. Was surprised to see the women and was told later that they had been there every night for the past two weeks. I spent two months in bed and was as skinny as a rail. Finally got downstairs by crawling one step at a time.
Ma and Dad had bought a player piano from Mrs. Lampman and I liked to strum the keys. The player was called a 66 as only 66 of the 88 keys played by roll. Summer came and my hair fell out and it was cut off with a clippers. There I was, 14 years old with my mind on the boys and my head as bald as a billiard all. Went to school in September wearing a boudoir cap. Aunt Sadie died of the flu, when I was ill and left a small son, Albert. We had visited her and she was fair haired and a gentle person. She had an organ, which she played and sang at. I went to work in the summer of 1921 at the Shredded Wheat and started at $14.23 which was raised until I got $17.23. I worked from 7 until 5:30 five days a week and on Saturday from 7 till 11 A.M. I lied about my age and they caught up with me and I had to go every Saturday morning, until I was 16, to the High School. (The one that burned).
The February following my 16th birthday found me again in the pest house with diphtheria. Was there three weeks. Cultures good one day and bad the next and then a day in between taking it. Finally got two good days in a row and I was turned loose. A smallpox patient was brought in the building and put on another floor but all diphtheria patients had to be vaccinated. After much deliberation I decided to get my shot on the inside of my calf and the doctor said it was unusual, but complied. He left an I spit on it, hoping it wouldn't take. I didn't, but the doctor said it wasn't of what I had done, that I was immune to the shot. Went back to work and Ma and I went downtown and looked at a player piano, an 88, and bought it. The 66 was given to a church. There was a real nice tea room on Third Street called "Hannels" and I got a job there, after work, working from 6 to 11 P.M. week days and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 A.M. to 11 P.M. They did a big business and I made good tips. I worked there for three months and that helped pay on the piano. Had friends in and we had a good time pumping the piano and singing.
On July 17, 1922 a daughter was born and she was named Olive May. About 8 P.M. on the 16th I was on the front porch talking to a couple of girls that lived across the street and Ma called me. I went in and she told me she was ready to go to the hospital and she and Dad left and the baby was born in the wee hours of the morning. Two weeks later we had the tiny sweet little girl home with us. When she was 15 months old, a son was born on November 3, 1923 and they named him John Raymond. He was an adorable little fellow and he too was born in the wee hours of the morning. Ma really had her hands full with two babies. I used to rock them when I got home from work. Both Olive and Ray learned to talk and walk at an early age. Time passes as usual and we have new neighbors by the name of Fellows. One of the children is named Valda and she is about Bill's age. She liked the babies and took them for rides in their buggy often. Ma liked her and said she was a lovely girl. Valda fell and broke her arm and I felt sorry for her, walking around with her arm in a sling. I started to go to dances with girls I worked with. I'd help clean the house when I got home from work about noon on Saturday and that night would go to jazz band dancing. Dad worked long hours, but helped around the house. I taught Olive to do the "Black Button" and she looked so cute, wearing my little red had with the big black feather. Started to work on the switch board from 7 till 8:30 when the office crew got in and got $2 extra a week. Ray had a ruptured appendix and spent quite a while in the hospital. Bill in high school and working at a candy store after school on Falls St. He brought Ma a box of chocolates and at Easter a big chocolate egg and she was so pleased. He rode a bicycle and was hit by a car and Ma and Dad worried about his riding that bike at night. Marion always so thin starting to fill out. Started going with Louie and he loved the little kids and brought them gifts. Some times he would bring me a box of candy and some times he would but a record for the Victrola. Ray Cubby and Olive thin. In May 1927 a daughter is born and the named her Shirley Louise. She lived five days. Mother in the hospital, told me what clothes she wanted on her, from the supply she had. Service were held at the funeral home for the baby. She was a beautiful baby and looked like Marion.
I was off work taking care of the kids for two weeks. Ma had had a miscarriage the previous year and I was off work for two weeks at the time also. I had been going to business school and was next in line for an office job. The first time I was off, they put some one else in, said they needed some one at once and I wasn't available. The second time I was off, they did the same thing and I was plenty sore about it. Went into work and stayed down in the factory doing nothing. Floor lady told me I'd better get up on the switch board and I refused. Said to find someone else. There was no one available to handle it, so things were messed up for the next couple of hours. Expected to be fired, but wasn't. I'll never forget the Shredded Wheat. A scaffold holding men who were washing the ceiling, broke and I happened to by walking under it, when it broke. A pail of water hit me on the head and knocked me to the floor. Was taken to the nurse and she washed my hair and was put to bed for the rest of the day. I had been working there only a short time and my hair had come in real curly after the clipping and after that incident it lost it's curl. A couple of years later, I was working on the floor and had taken a girls place for a few minutes. A fellow was working above me near the ceiling with a monkey wrench. I stood up and packed and the floor lady told me to sit down. I said not with that guy up there and she said lightening never strikes in the same place twice and down slipped the wrench and grazed the side of my head and I sat down all right, down on the floor. Up to the nurse again and I had a bump the size of a small egg.
Got married in September and quit without notice. We went by boat to Toronto and the Fair was on and we took it in. I was a poor cook and a worse baker and my pie shells were like cement. Marion and Charlotte came to visit us and spied a lemon pie that we had tried to eat a piece of for supper. I offered them some and they tried their best to eat it, but ended up eating just the filling. Decided to go to work in October and went to work at the Carbo in the shipping office. Got tired of working and quit the following summer. We lived on 18th Street across from the school in a flat and under us was a saloon and it was noisy at night at especially on Saturday nights, and sometimes we couldn't get to sleep until 3 A.M. Uncle John Culey came and stayed for quite a while. He was a tall soft spoken man and was always dressed in perfect taste. We all went to the beach while he was there, (Port Dalhousie) by train. Ma liked the beaches and we had gone there numerous times and to Olcott beach. She never went in swimming but liked boat rides and sometimes Dad rented a boat at Olcott. One day while sitting under a tree there, she found ten dimes and took them over to try winning something for the kids. On her third try she won a teddy bear with eyes that lit up.
Uncle John Culey ailing and went into St. Mary's hospital in 1928. He died there following an operation for cancer of the stomach. I went with Ma to Pennsylvania by train for his burial.
A short time later I worked at the Shredded Wheat when they were shorthanded, sometimes a few days and sometimes a week or so. I saw Ma every day and when working would stop there on my way home from work. In 1929 Dad and Ma went to see Aunt Mayme who then lived in Akron, Ohio and they took Marion, Olive and Ray with them. They went to Cleveland by boat from Buffalo. In early 1930, they all went to Pennsylvania by car. Dad then had a Ford. In the summer Louie and I went to New York City and took Marion with us. By early fall, Ma wasn't feeling well and by December she was in bed. I spent the days taking care of her. Doctor prescribed morphine for pain. Ma wouldn't take a whole one and I'd break it in half and she would only take that if the pain was severe. I'm there days and half the nights. Take the kids for a ride on their sled for a short time at night. Bitter cold and tears streaming down my face from thoughts of Ma. Crying my heart out downstairs and put a lot of powder on my face and try to smile when I go upstairs to Ma. She said "Promise me Ruthie that you will take care of the kids", and I assured here I would and she smiled.
Christmas came and I got the scooter down from the attic, that was hidden up there for Ray and put it under the tree. Took Christmas dinner up to Ma and she sat in a chair to eat it. Had turkey and I ate with Ma. New Years' came and I took down the tree, that Ma didn't get down to see. Louie had bought me a short leather coat and I didn't care for it, so I took it back and got a dress for myself and a sheepskin coat for Ray with the money. Ray liked the coat and Olive wanted on like it and we planned on getting her one. I had brought an overstuffed chair of mine over and put it in Ma's bedroom and she got up once in a while and sat in it for a short time.
January 3rd, 1931, about 10 A.M. Ma said she was going to get up and sit in the chair and eat an apple. I got her out of bed and into the chair and wanted to peel the apple but she didn't want it peeled and enjoyed eating it and said it was good. The back of her neck was split open, also under the breast and I kept clean gauze on them. Ma sat there for awhile and then got a terrible pain and I got her back in bed and she couldn't get her breath and I had to pen the window for a few seconds and give her half of a morphine pill and then she settled down and slept a little, opened her eyes and sang a hymn and went back to sleep. She awoke later and asked me to take down the wash hanging in her room and I said I would and she sent back to sleep and awoke later and said "Guess I've been talking funny." I straightened her pillows, five of them, she felt better propped up and gave her some orange juice and she said I was so good to her.
At 7 P.M. Dad was out in front of the house trying to get the car started, going to take Olive down an get her a sheepskin coat like the one Ray had. The car just wouldn't start and it always had at once. Marion and Charlotte were in the dining room and Marion was trying on my new dress. I hear Ma call "Mother" and I ran up the stairs and saw her take her last breath. I screamed and Dad came running in the house and up the stairs.
My world had fallen apart. I just sat there on the bed, holding Ma's hand and patting it. The doctor came and I went in the bathroom and looked out the window and the sky was full of stars and I wanted to tear them down, it just didn't seem right for them to be shining and Ma gone. The doctor gave me a pill and it knocked me out. Woke up the next morning and the impact of the night before hit me with a bang. The next few days are sort of vague. Went with Dad and he let me pick out Ma's casket and I chose the best the had. Went down to Beirs and bought a scarf for Mother's neck. Remember Dad trying to get me to eat and the neighbors bringing in food. Remember Dad crying so hard down cellar that you could hear him outside. Remember holding Olive and Ray up to give Ma their last kiss and Bill trying to comfort me. Remember staying up all night with Ma and the funeral next day. Louie went to Buffalo after the funeral to attend his uncles. Lonely days and I hated to go upstairs. Marion in high school and Ray and Olive at Whitney Ave. Sold my furniture and came over to take care of the kids. Ray and Olive came home for lunch and they liked pancakes so we had them often. Ray got the croup just about every time he got a cold and he was forever getting his feet wet. Louie adored the kids and we took them with us when we went out. Summer came and the winter again and I kept busy. Cold nights and I'd go to be with Olive on one side of me and Ray on the other and tell them stories until the fell asleep. Marion saying she was the best dressed girl in high school, with wearing her clothes and mine. Made cookies by the dozens and kept the house clean and the family well fed. Summer again and we took the kids to the beach. Halloween came and I made costumes for the kids and had their friends in to bob for apples in a tub in the kitchen. Winter rolled around and Marion and Charlotte boiling eggs hard and adding pickles for sandwiches and they made fudge often. Well the big and the little kids brought their friends in, so there was always some one there, to help east the loneliness.
A few days after the first of the year in 1933 I left the homestead. On December 31, 1932 Dad and Nellie Winters were married in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1939 Grandma Johns died in Pennsylvania at the age of 81 and Dad and Nellie went there for her burial. I gave Dad some money to buy flowers from me and I remembered the pretty flowers she had in her yard when I was a child and visited her and how I displeased her when I picked the lily of the valley. On April 1, 1947 Dad retires from the Carborundum Co. A farewell party is given in his honor on March 28th at the Plantation.
William T. "Bill" Johns, foreman in Coated Abrasives Making, completed more than 31 years of service with the company with his retirement April 1st. His record of continuous employment dates from May 1916. He began his long service in Coated Abrasives as a sizer. His next job was that of maker and in 1927 he became foreman. Recalling old times, he particularly remembers World War I and the 6 A.M. to 12 midnight shifts, then worked by Coated Abrasives Making to meet war demands. Bill's wife is now visiting a daughter in Hawthorne, Calif. and he plans to join her in June, when they will go on an extended sightseeing tour. William T. "Bill" Johns receives a wallet from John A. Williamson, General Superintendant of Coated Abrasives, following a dinner in the Plantation, honoring Bill on his retirement. Bill retired April 1st after 31 years of Coated Abrasives Making. He also received a traveling bag from his many friends in the Department. Al Watson was Toastmaster and Jerry Keller gave the testimonial speech.
Dad drove out to California and I worried about him making that long trip alone. He enjoyed seeing California and Nellie and he started back for the Falls and did a lot of sight seeing on the way. He stopped and visited Aunt Mayme and Uncle Bill who were building a new home in Dayton, Ohio.
July 1947 Dad and Nellie put a tourist sign on their front porch and started to take in tourists.
April 1950, Dad bought a horse and carriage for sightseeing trips.
June 1950, Dad is driving his car as a taxi and he has some one driving the horse and carriage. September, 1950, Dad sold the horse and carriage.
In January 1948 Dad came down to Florida to visit us a Riviera Beach. We took him sightseeing, which included Miami. He liked the Florida climate and thought about moving to Florida. There was a small cottage a few doors from our trailer and it was for sale.
April 1948 Dad decided to buy the small cottage and he and Nellie spent two winters in Florida. The trailer court had quite a few retired men and Dad enjoyed himself talking to them while sitting outside in the sunshine and going fishing quite often.
When they left Riviera Beach in the early spring of 1951, they made a trip to St. Petersburg on their way back north. Here they bought a house and they left the Falls on August 26, 1951 and arrived at their new home in St. Petersburg on August 31, 1951.
Dad put in orange, lemon and banana trees and planted shrubs and flowers. He kept busy tending them and was happy and content. He and Nellie started raising parakeets and Dad enjoyed that too. March 1958 Dad is in the hospital and very ill with pneumonia. He is in the hospital for over two months and lost a lot of weight. Dad gets outdoors as much as possible and by Fall he is able to work a little around the yard.
March 1960, Nellie died and Dad was very lonely. He came to see us a few times in West Palm Beach and then went by train to California to see Ray. The weather there bothered his arthritis, so after a short time he returned to St. Petersburg.
Louie and I came here in September 1960 to take care of him and he was so happy to have us with him and it was so nice to hear him singing again around the house.
He sold his old car and bought a Ford coupe which he drove real well.
May 7, 1964 Dad is blind in his right eye. He misses driving his car, but goes downtown frequently by bus.
24, 1965 Dad is sick in bed with a bad cold. November 22, 1965 Dad is in the hospital.
Dad left us on December 4, 1965 at 4:30 P.M. and is in God's care now. I'm remembering this past Christmas and how lonely it was without Dad thinking of the previous Christmas, when the house was gaily decorated and a big tree and the pretty felt stockings I hung up for the three of us and filled and how happy Dad was. Thinking of the egg nogs I made for him in the afternoon, while we looked at the shows on television and the cup of coffee I took him in the mornings at 6:30 and of the warm milk I took into him, before he went to sleep at night and sitting on his bed and talking to him while he drank it and Dad calling me his little nurse and my heart is sad, as there isn't anything I can ever do for him again and can only thank God for the years He gave me with him. As I sit here I think of the kids, grown now, with families of their own. Valda and Bill and their twins, son Bill and daughter Cheryl and of Marion and Frank and their daughter Vicki Lynne and of Olive and Fred and their son Gary and daughter Daiane and of Ray and Betty and their two wee daughters, Patty and Debbie and of Ray's first wife Gwen and of the two sons born of that marriage, Raymond and David and I'm remembering by beloved Mother and Father that God blessed me with and entrusted in my care to take care of with love and tenderness, as their days grew short on this earth and until He called them to Him in Heaven.
I do hope that the actual facts that I have written, will prove interesting to you all. The part about Dad's retirement was taken from articles I have of it, along with pictures that I have had in my photo album since his retirement. The picture I'm enclosing was in the "Carbo Wheel" magazine of which I had two.
May God Bless you all.
Your loving sister,
Excellence in Deportment and Recitations and for Regularity of Attendance in the Mayfield School during the term ending June 15th, 1893
Given at Mayfield, State of Pennsylvania, this 15th day of June 1893
R. H. Martin, Teacher
[Text of William T. Johns' school diploma. He was just under 12 years old at the time he received this.]
born March 17, 1854, England
died 1908, Pennsylvania
Mary Ann Hodges Johns
born July 16, 1858, Wales
died 1939, Pennsylvania
William Thomas Johns
born July 6, 1881, Scranton, Pennsylvania
died December 4, 1965, St. Petersburg, Florida
Ruby Culey Johns
born September 3, 1885, Jermyn, Pennsylvania
died January 3, 1931, Niagara Falls, New York
Marriage of William Thomas Johns and Ruby Culey
October 29, 1904, Binghamton, New York
[Note: the following two dates are not part of the original document by Ruth Pearl Johns, but are derived from statements made in the text of the document.]
born between 1846 and 1859
died between 1916 and 1919, Pennsylvania
Eliza Jane Stephens Culey
died 1902, Jermyn, Pennsylvania
The above document was written by Ruth Pearl Johns, apparently soon after the death of her father. It was written by hand, and typed by Valda Johns, her sister-in-law and my grandmother, from whom I have gotten it. I have taken great care to present this exactly as it was given me, with the exception of spelling errors.
There is a conflict between dates mentioned in the text of the document and dates mentioned at the end regarding the birth-date of Ruby and Pearl. These conflicts exist in the original document and were copied by my transcription.
She refers to many people by their nicknames; Aunt Mayme was Mary, William Thomas Johns' sister, and Aunt Sophie was Sarah, his other sister. Uncle Bill, referred to on pages 4, 7, and 14, was apparently Mayme's husband. William Thomas Johns is referred to as Will several times on pages 1 and 2, but is called Dad thereafter. William Edward Johns is at first called Willie, but eventually becomes Bill as he grows older.
Ruth died on October 3, 1973, in Niagara Falls, NY, and is buried in Riverdale Cemetery.
I hope you find this document as fascinating as I have.
- William Edward Johns II