Some Recollections of Mother (Anna Lee Munson)
by Alexander Munson
Excerpted from his recollections of Dadda by Kitty Munson Cooper
While he had the grocery store, Dadda made a deal with Mother [Anna Lee]. If she would take a year off from school and be his cashier at the store he would send her to Packer Institute. She did and he did. But when he got the bill from the school after the first month, he cancelled the agreement, deciding that he could not afford it.
Mother didn't want to go back to the same school again where all her friends knew that she had been at Packer (MMP: and would be a year ahead of her). But she couldn't gain admittance to another school until, determined, she went to see the Principal of the new school. We don't know how she did it, but she gained admittance. (MMP: She went to see Mr. Maxwell, the superintendent of the school. He must have admired her spunk.)
The Lee and the Munson family all went to the 27th Street church, as did most of the Norwegian community in Brooklyn. Dad always claimed that he had been there the day Mother was baptized, but we questioned this, and he admitted that he didn't know it at the time. (MMP: That was before they went to the 27th St. Church. It was at the Seamen's Church that Mother was baptized, and Dad's family may have been there on the same day.) They may have seen each other when Mother was delivering milk for Dadda while he had the grocery store. But she met him shortly after, for sure, since they became engaged when she was 16 and he was 22. They were married when she was 18 (MMP: 19) and he 25. Anna Lee and Lawrence J. Munson. (We finally found out what the J. stood for, although he refused to tell us for years. It stood for Josiah.)
He had long since graduated from the harmonica to the piano. The piano was to be his career, that and the organ. Later, he performed at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and even the Philadelphia sesquicentennial besides making a number of Victor records.
He was a piano teacher and among his pupils were Mother and Aunt Helen. Aunt Helen told us laughingly, later, that sometimes they would hide when they saw him coming.
Mother, being a lovely girl, had many would be suitors. Dad and Nathaniel Fedde (later a missionary) were the front runners. I'm glad Dad won out. She was a wonderful mother.
They took an apartment for a year, and then Mother moved in with Dadda, Mormor, Uncle Henry, Uncle Herman, and Aunt Helen, on 8th Street. Dad went to Europe to study. In 1914 they moved into their own house on 9th Street a block away from Dadda and his family. Dadda and Mormor moved to Hempstead Gardens. In 1916, Mother and Dad moved to Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
They bought a music school from Kellerman and had a new sign put up over the entrance. The Munson School Of Music. Mother was the business woman and the guiding genius. The school did well. At one time they had 22 teachers for piano, violin, cello, voice, saxaphone, and organ, on staggered hours. Mother organized clubs for the various students: The Bach club, the Beethoven club, the Brahms club, and etc. It heightened the interest and they learned more about the various composers, and sometimes had a party.
The June Recitals were always a big event at the school. Bay Ridge High School auditorium would be taken over for Friday evening and all day Saturday. I became the stage manager, placing music stands and chairs, and raising and lowering the piano lids for the two grand pianos. The students looked forward all year to the big recital week end.
Our family moved to 117 Meadbrook Road in Garden City, in 1928. We were near the Garden City Country Club and the golf course.
We enjoyed many happy days on Meadbrook Road, but we got into a very bad habit. Whoever was taking the Long Island Railroad was often running a few minutes late. I usually walked to and from the Nassau Boulevard station. The morning train came from Hempstead via the Garden City station. We were the first station after Garden City, and Stewart Manor was the station after ours. We could save a few minutes by driving to the Stewart Manor station.
Mother and Dad commuted almost every day into Brooklyn, and then took the way to Bay Ridge and the Munson school of Music. One morning it was raining. I had gone into New York earlier. As usual, they were running a little late. Henry offered to drive them to Stewart Manor. They readily agreed and were off in a wet car on a wet road. It was June 25, 1929.
About half way to Stewart Manor, the car skidded, went off the road, and turned over. Marian was thrown clear of the car, and only received cuts and bruises, but Mother was thrown out in such a way that the car fell on her. It was awful!
I remember Uncle Herman 'phoning me at RCA where I worked. "There has been an accident. You better come right home."
We all felt so lost without Mother. At that time, it was customary to have the body in the casket at home until the funeral, so the shell of her was still there but she was gone from us. Her rocking chair was still. The driving force was gone from our lives. We didn't see how we could ever go on without her guiding hand and voice.
I think it was about a year later that I met Bertha Louise Geer. We became engaged on Thanksgiving Day, 1930, and were married in Hempstead a month later, December 27, 1930.
AND SO THEY WERE MARRIED
Their children are: Alexander (Lee), Claire, Andrea, Jeannie and Karen Geer (KG). (MMP: and Lawrence Henry)
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