Lin Floyd wrote a blog post recently about overcoming fear about writing your family history, that was an experience shared with parents. My parents are now dead but I still tend to the needs of my godparents. Last week, as we were driving, Patsy told me this wonderful story and I was always going to record it on my blog but really wanted to connect it to Lin.
Patsy was in the 6th grade. She had a very good friend, Margaret Pirchner, whose uncle owned The Alphine Village which is near where our current Playhouse Square is located in Cleveland. Back then all the theaters were movie theaters. Margaret's dad, Otto, worked with his brother.
Here's her Uncle Herman (who lived to be 101) carrying 56 mugs of beer.
But back to the story. Patsy and her family were on Welfare. Margaret and her family obviously were not. One day Margaret asked if she could come and visit Patsy in Patsy's home after school one day. Patsy was delighted. The day arrived and both girls walked home together. But when they got home, Patsy's mom, my great aunt Florida (Florrie as we called her) needed a few things from the grocery store. Patsy was mortified and scared to take her friend with her to the store.
Back in that era, if you were on Welfare, you did your shopping and then went up to the clerk, gave her your name. The store kept your family's information on a card and they'd pull the card, write down your purchases and amount and you'd be off. Patsy KNEW that Margaret's family did not have to go through this and she was afraid she'd lose a friend when Margaret found out how poor they were. Patsy tried everything to get out of going to the store for her mom but she says her mom was pretty strict about such things, bordering on being mean and stern.
So off the two girls went. Patsy selected the things on her mom's list, with dread walked up to the clerk, gave the name, card was pulled and notated, and they left....not having to pay a thing.
As they walked home, Margaret said to Patsy..."That was just wonderful! You get to go to a neighborhood store where they know your name and you don't have to pay a penny. When my mom goes shopping she has to pay for our food with cash."
Patsy was so relieved that Margaret would continue to be her friend (and did so throughout their school years) and never had to tell Margaret that her family was on welfare. When Patsy told me this story last week, she wondered if Margaret really was that innocent or was she that kind. But the fear was replaced with joy and rejoicing.
The added fun part that Patsy tossed in, as almost an aside to no one in the car but herself, was that my grandmother, Florrie's younger sister, was always the fun one. "Your grandmother was always so much fun and it was wonderful visiting Auntie Gladys and playing and being loved by her."
That's how we knew my grandmother to be til her dying day.