Wake Up and Write Writer's Retreat Workshop
Mom got involved in co-chairing the Bridge Luncheon for St. Teresa’s, held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Babcock. She and Jeri Noble were there once for a meeting and some of the local mob guys who hung out there mistook them for prostitutes. They set them right.
Mom also joined an informal group of friends that called themselves The Club. It consisted of Mom, Jeri Noble, Rita Darr, Lorraine Young, Bea McClure, and Lois Cole. Everyone had kids around the same ages, and the purpose of the Club was girls’ night out. Once a month they’d meet at a different house, the hostess would provide the food (it got fancier as the years went on), and the ladies would sit and talk through the evening. In the summer there was usually a picnic out at North Park, and the women remained friends for the rest of their lives, though they stopped meeting monthly around the time the kids went off to college.
The second thing was the assassination of President Kennedy. The first Irish Catholic president, who had safely shepherded the country through the Cuban Missile Crisis, who was just like them with his young wife and family, was brutally killed. The days to follow, right through the end of the funeral were in everyone’s face, hour after hour, on the television.
The religious and political foundations of Mom’s life were rocked in the early 60’s. Before the end of her 30th year she had lost both of her parents, the young handsome war hero Irish Catholic president of her country, and the bedrock certainty of her Catholic traditions. The one major family loss during the early 60’s was the death of Aunt Mary, Mom’s mother’s sister. Then Dad lost his job and even Mom’s economic security was in question.
Eventually Dad found a job in Columbus, Indiana, a place Mom would forever remember as “godforsaken Columbus, Indiana.” While it was heaven on earth for kids, it was hell on wheels for Mom. Torn from the heart of her sister, brothers, and myriad cousins, Mom was deeply unhappy and never stopped hoping we would return to Pittsburgh.
Mom and Dad went to their one and only Kentucky Derby while in Columbus, and took the entire family to see the new film, My Fair Lady. We went down to the legendary Brown County and had dinner at a well-known restaurant, but all we kids cared about was the old-fashioned candy available at the country store. Mom may not have liked Columbus, but life there was seldom dull.
A little more than a year after moving to Columbus, Indiana, Mom’s dream came true and we moved back to Pittsburgh. By the time we returned, all three children were in school, which left Mom free to go back to work if she wanted to. The one job she could get that would make it possible for her to be home for us after school was for her to teach school. Although she hadn’t completed her degree, St. Teresa’s hired her to teach, and she eventually taught English, religion, and spelling.
After Rita’s death the holidays became more focused on getting together with Aunt Helen’s family. Sometimes one or more of the brothers and their families would come also, but the Doughertys and the Burnhams were always there. We kids were growing up, and Mom was considered the “cool” mother by all of our friends. Many a summer afternoon either Mic and her friends or my friends and I would sit around the kitchen table with Mom, drinking iced tea and talking about life.
The further adventures of Mom and the rest of us next week...