My Aunt Ruth

I have a lovely picture of my Aunt Ruth as a young girl/lady. No date is given for the photo. She was born in 1888 and lived a long life, marrying twice and living to the age of 97. She was born in Peoria Florida as her parents spent 10 to 12 years there for reasons of my grandfather’s health. The family returned to their base in Ohio when my grandfather became terminally in 1898. Aunt Ruth would have been about 10 years old when her father (my grandfather) died.

So she spent the remainder of her formative years in Newark Ohio. She became a teacher and taught school in both Newark and then Indiana. In Indianapolis Indiana she first married John H. Hilkene, a widower with one child. She was 42, he was 55. This was in 1923. He subsequently died in 1930. One thing that struck me about him is that he served in the Spanish American War in 1898, and he also served in the 1st World War. He was very active in the American Legion in Panama. He (they?) were living in Panama when he became seriously ill and subsequently returned to Indianapolis to die.

Five years later in November 1935 she married James S. Milligan in Indianapolis. (Her younger brother my father married for the 3rd time in December 1935). She was in her late 40’s when she married James. He was a widower with 2 children.

At some point she moved from teaching to work as an underwriter for the Sun Alliance Insurance Company. She worked for that company until retirement.

She spent her final years between Indianapolis, Raleigh North Carolina and Florida with her sister Myrtle and her mother, She died at age 97 in 1984.

I might have met Aunt Ruth in the fall of 1948, but I doubt it. I was 11 years old when my sister Ruth and I went south (by train) to Raleigh North Carolina to visit our Grandmother and our Aunt Myrtle. My only recollections of that trip are in photographs and my only real memory is of the suit I wore – a lovely brown and white suit and so-called sport shoes.

Why would Aunt Ruth have been there in North Carolina – possibly visiting her sister and mother? Doubtful, I’m sure she was busy enough in Indiana.

My Life History In Postcards

I came across a postcard today written on August 24. No year was given. I tried to puzzle it out. It was a postcard of the Tower of London. Addressed to my mother in Hawaii. Sent from Belfast Northern Ireland. I wrote that I was then semi-immobilized. My brother and sister-in-law had phoned from Birmingham England to give me helpful advice. A cable had arrived from my friend Lucy in Washington D.C. asking whether she should fly to Belfast or Dublin the following Tuesday to meet her husband Harry. (At that point Harry was in London and their plan was to meet up in Ireland before going to Portugal and Morocco.)

I wrote “in the meantime I have lots of loving care, plenty of books, and a TV to watch the Czech crisis”.

Following the above clues, I decided the card was written in 1968, early in my first pregnancy. I had been threatened of miscarrying (a midnight trip to the Rotunda in Dublin).

It all turned out well. Lucy joined Harry in Belfast and we had a nice visit in Belfast and Enniskillen. And our first born is now age 51.

All Aboard – Chicago Bound

This is a snippet of a memory – I wonder if it’s true. My sister Ruth once told me that when our brother Bob was 12 years old, our father put him on a train going to Chicago and asked the porter to look after him and be sure he returned. I’m not clear whether this was in Boston or New York. I wonder………. July 20 would have been Bob’s 96th birthday, sadly he died at age 67 in June 1992. He is buried in the grounds of the Episcopal Church in Rutland Vermont, where he and his wife Lillian were married in 1953. Lillian is buried there also along with her sister Dottie and her parents. Rest in Peace Bob, Lil, Dottie, John and Cecilia

Third Thoughts

This is getting serious. An autobiography in 300 words is the assignment. I met someone who said she had written 330 words and the editor returned it to her. She gave it to her daughter to eliminate her excess words. Strictly 300 words or less is the rule/assignment.

So I will start again and eliminate all those random memories!

She came into this world in the final month of 1936. Born in Boston at New England Baptist Hospital, weight 5 lbs 11 oz. Taken home to Belmont in due course. A happy loving family – mother, father, an older brother and 2 older sisters; a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood. But when she was 12 years old her childhood changed abruptly. Out of the blue, her father died – it was a coronary thrombosis.

The family dynamic was changing. The 3 older siblings were now adults and were leaving to get married. The years passed and soon Janet left too. She went to Middlebury College in Vermont, graduating in 1958. She went on to Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois to earn a Master’s Degree in Urban Geography.

Her first job as a graduate was in Seattle. But it wasn’t too long before she returned to her native Boston to work for Arthur D. Little, a prominent management consulting firm. After 3 years, she transferred to the San Francisco Office. She could’t resist the lure of the University of California in Berkeley. She enrolled in 1964 to study economics. In 1966 she went to Kenya to do the research for her PhD thesis.

Shortly after arriving in Nairobi in August 1966, she met Ian, her husband-to-be. They married in 1968. From Kenya they moved to Dublin Ireland for Ian’s job with An Foras Forbatha, The National Institute for Planning and Construction Research. Three sons were born in quick succession.

This young family proceeded to roam the world because of Ian’s work. Two years in St. Lucia in the West Indies, 2 years in Fiji in the South Pacific, 5 years in Bangladesh, 2 years in Bhutan in the Himalayas, 1 year in Ghana in West Africa, and back to Kenya in East Africa for 5 years.

These 3 sons are now all married and we are blessed with 9 grandchildren.

___________________________________

That’s about 400 words and I haven’t written about my various jobs. Needs editing!

SUDDENLY

As I was going about my business this morning, suddenly a totally unrelated memory popped into my head. It was a memory I hadn’t had for years and years and years. It was a memory of the day my father died. He died at noon in March 1949. I heard him die as my sister Nan and I waited anxiously in another bedroom. Later my mother and I sat on the living room sofa and she told me the sad news. We sadly proceeded to have lunch in the kitchen. In the afternoon I was taken out to Hartwell Farm to get some of their special heart warming soup. I can’t remember who took me – possibly my brother Bob and sister Nan. My sister Ruth would have stayed at home to help my mother with all the things that had to be done.

Her 300 Word Story Continues

Cross Country With Phil and Miriam and Rachel

It was the middle of June when they left Seattle in 1960. She can’t remember very much about this trip. Janet had a 4 door Ford which could easily accommodate a passenger. What car did Rachel have?? Rachel’s parents Miriam and Phil were wonderful companions.

They reached Yellowstone National Park and marveled at Old Faithful. Rachel knew Yellowstone well as she had worked there several summers before as a laundry girl with Lucy another mutual Middlebury friend. The foursome carried on across the plains to Minnesota where she parted company with the others. She stopped in Grand Marais Minnesota to visit with a couple whom she knew in Cambridge.(when she worked as a secretary at A. O. Wilson Structtural Steel Company). From Grand Marais she proceeded alone to Newark Ohio to visit her sister Nan and family. After a few days she headed for Boston. She had a new passenger – nephew 7 year old Bobby, Nan’s oldest son. Bobby was going to visit his grandparents in New Britain Connecticut. A brief stop to deliver Bobby and then finally home to Belmont Massachusetts. Another cross-country trip completed – her 4th in 8 months and not by air.

Writing Ian’s Biography

Here we go – this will be challenging. Where are all those files of resumes we wrote together over the years?

He was born at home in Belfast Northern Ireland on October 30 1933. His home was within a stone’s throw of Stormont Castle, the center of government in Northern Ireland. In 1934 when Ian was 8 months old his father died following an operation performed on the kitchen table. His father had been severely wounded in the First World War but had recovered and married Ian’s mother in 1927. A baby girl was born in 1929 but she only lived for 6 days. A baby boy was born in 1930 – Stanley is still alive age 90. You might say that Ian grew up in the shadow of the tragedy of the First World War and the relatively primitive stage of medicine and medical procedures at the time.

300 Words for a Biography

IMG_0001  Graduation from Middlebury College, Middlebury Vermont, June 1958Aunt Libby, Cousin Betsy, Jan, my mother, Lil my sister-in-law

Janet was born on December 7, 1936 in Boston Massachusetts, daughter of the late Joseph Buckingham Miller and Dorothy Friend Miller.  She grew up in Belmont, MA and after graduating from Belmont High School she went on to Middlebury College in Vermont to study French and Geography and to ski, her favorite sport among many.  At Middlebury she scored out the “et” -on her name badge and from then on she was known as Jan.

From Middlebury she went on to Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois to obtain a Master’s Degree in Geography.  In the summer following graduation she took a 2 month trip to Europe.  She flew Tiger Airlines.  It took 14 hours with stops in Halifax Nova Scotia, Gander Newfoundland, Shannon in Ireland, and finally London.  And then she spent a month cycling and staying in Youth Hostels in England, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.  Along with 2 other girls, Betty and Miriam, she then traveled by train to Geneva Switzerland where Betty picked up a brand new Volkswagen.  The 3 girls spent a month driving in southern France and Spain and western France to reach Paris and fly home to New York in August.

Her travels were not over.  She then rode in another VW with her Middlebury friend Lucy  to go to Chicago/Evanston to attend a mutual friend’s wedding.  Middlebury classmates, Ginny and John,  She missed the wedding.  She  met a Northwestern classmate/friend who was driving to California.  He was leaving almost immediately and had room in his car.  Off she went on Route 66 with Mohammed, Bob, and Helene.   Next stop Palm Springs California.  Followed by a camping trip to a lake in the mountains east of San Francisco.

Still footloose and fancy free she traveled by bus from San Francisco to Seattle, again to visit another Middlebury friend, Rachel.

The above Middlebury friends are still close over 60 years later.

I think I’ve exceeded my allotted 300 words.  To be continued.

 

Second Thoughts

I’m having 2nd thoughts on “WrIting my biography in 300 words”.  That’s the assignment for the residents here at Ida Culver House Broadview (ICHB).  I think this is like writing one’s obituary – which would be helpful for the family left behind.  My sister Nan passed away at the end of January this year and I have a copy of the obituary here before me as I write.  And a nice picture.  Nancy Richardson of Middlebury, Connecticut, April 18, 1927 – February 1, 2020.  “Loving mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother.  The obituary was beautifully written……  I don’t know when and by whom.  I’ve counted the words and actually in about 300 the essence of her life is there for all to read.  So here’s my example of how to write my 300 words.  Thank you Nan or her sons – probably her sons.  Somehow I don’t think Nan would have written this.  More likely her 4 sons clubbed together to produce the finished piece.

my sisters on the Ile de France Nan and her sister Ruth on the Ile de France, about to sail to Europe for a 2 month adventure, April 1950

My Autobiography In 300 Words

I’ve started writing –  I was born in Boston Massachusetts on December 7, 1936.  My 3 older siblings had gone to school that day per usual.  My sisters Ruth and Nan were 6th and 5th graders in Payson Park Elementary School. They were called to the principal’s office and given the happy news that they had a new baby sister.  Ruth suggested that I be named Janet

IMG_0003   my mother and father, married on December 28, 1935

IMG_0002 Spring 1937  on our back door steps                     my mother holding me, my siblings seated from left to right Nan age 9, Bob age 12, Ruth age 10.     I need Ruth to remind me of the cat’s name – possibly Blackie