Marian recalls the 1920s
I spent July, 1924 and July and August 1925 at camps in Maine. For camp and for gym classes in school, we wore navy blue pleated serge bloomers to our knees, and white middy blouses, although while I was still in high school, we started wearing shorts for basketball.
While I was in my freshman year at Simmons College in Boston, I kept hoping that someone in the family would visit me there, but it was hard for them to get away. One day, between classes, some one told me that there was a note for me on the bulletin board from my mother! Some how we found each other, and she took me to lunch at the cafeteria. It was so good to see her. She had come up on the night boat to Boston, and had to go back to New York the same way that night. I had to cut our visit short because I was scheduled to play for my first rehearsal as accompanist of the Simmons Glee Club that same afternoon. I was so torn having to leave her! At that time there were several steamship companies, like the Eastern Steamship line, and the Fall River Line that sailed over night between Boston and New York. Going back and forth, I sometimes went by boat, and sometimes by train, also at night, in a Pullman berth. At the end of my somophore year, Alex Mother and Dad drove up to Boston to get me. I loved that.
I loved family reunions. As long as Mormor lived, they were at Hempstead Gardens. She left us in 1924, and then Uncle Henry entertained us about twice a year, for his birthday, May 10, and for Thanksgiving. He had a beautiful home in Bronxville, Westchester County, and Aunt Pansy served an elegant dinner, with about four waitresses, several courses – and finger bowls. When I think of family reunions, I remember the smell of the uncles’ cigar smoke, and the fun we had running around outside with Uncle Herman. I think he spent more time with us than with the grown ups, and we adored him. Aunt Helen was wonderful to us, too. She took us on outings to Luna Park at Coney Island, which sometimes meant riding in an open trolley car. At Christmas time, she took us to see the displays in the big stores, and sometimes gave Anne Louise (Wiggles) and me new dresses. She often spent afternoons at Ovington Avenue darning our stockings, to help Mother out.
Christmas was a high point of the year. For many years, we had family reunions at Hempstead Gardens on Christmas day, so we started having our own family celebrations on Christmas Eve. There was activity for weeks ahead of time. Alex sometimes made doll houses out of orange crates, Mother sat up late nights at the sewing machine making dolls’ clothes, Dad made his yearly trips to the doll hospital to renew our favorite dolls with new wigs, and repaired joints. The rest of us visited Woolworth’s with our savings. As soon as Lawrence was old enough he joined us. When he saw something he wanted to buy, he would say "How many nickels is that?". On Christmas Eve, we were supposed to take naps. That gave Mother and Dad, and later Alex, too, a chance to trim the tree and arrange the presents. When we finally got downstairs, Alex read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke, and then we had our dinner. We followed the Norwegian custom of starting with a bowl of rice, served with a dab of butter, and sugar and cinnamon. One serving included an almond, which meant good luck for the coming year. The rest of the meal was the customary turkey with all that goes with it. When it came time to open the glass doors to the office, where the tree was, the excitement was at a fever pitch. Dad played Silent Night, and we sang as we went in, in order of age. For Wiggles and me, the beautifully dressed dolls were the main attraction. In the Norwegian tradition, the tree was placed so we could walk around it, singing Christmas carols. My earliest memories are of real candles fastened on the tree with clamps. It was much safer when electric lights were available.
I didn’t mention the first World War, which was going on in Europe from 1914 to 1918. The United States became involved in 1916. We sang songs of the period in school, and saw many men in uniform. We entertained men from Fort Hamilton in our home. I didn’t know him then, but my future husband, Jean Pasquet was serving in the army as a sergeant in the field artillery. He was about to be sent overseas to Siberia, but had only reached New Orleans when the armistice was signed. We knew enough about what was going on to be afraid of Germans. I worried about German submarines coming into New York Harbor, and Wiggles looked under the bed every night to be sure no German soldiers were hiding there. The children in the neighborhood made trenches in snow and "played" war with snow balls.
We were getting an education all through these years. From Ovington Avenue we went to Public School 102, and then to public high schools. In 1924, Dad started teaching music at a beautiful girls’ school on Shore Road, overlooking the Narrows (KMC: The school's name was "Font'Bonne Hall".. its' about 99th St. and Shore Road. Used to be a private estate donated etc.. very exclusive.. source: Walter Nelson) Then Wiggles and I had the good fortune to get scholarships to Shore Road Academy. Two dedicated teachers, Helen Redding and Theodora Goldsmith pooled their assets and started the school. It was a wonderful opportunity for us, with small classes and beautiful surroundings. It was there that I started organ lessons with Dad. College was next, and Alex went to Lehigh University and I went to Simmons College in Boston.
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