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The Bernards of 2233 Magazine Street

This book was put together by Guy Frances Bernard in 1958. It was delivered to my mother recently from Johanna Bernard who lived across the street from us many years ago on Spruce Street, but now lives in North Carolina. I've layed it out as it was done by Guy. It also contains photographs that were added about 1961, but these have been removed from the book and incorporated into the website, linked to each individual as designated by the book. Additionally, many poems were also included but I've moved them to their own web page; a link is also included below.

by Guy F. Bernard, 1958
(transcribed by Raymond Johnson, Mar 2010)

To the Poetry

2233 MAGAZINE STREET

FOREWORD

No book is large enough to contain the story of the Bernards of 2233 Magazine Street. Fortunately, it is neither necessary nor wise to relate every anecdote.

Perhaps I am not as well qualified as others to compile this record, but since no one else has done so, I shall try, in a brief and simple manner, to tell the story. Although I realize that my skill as a writer is limited, I believe that it is better to have the facts and anecdotes set down by an inexpert hand rather than not to have them at all.

Young persons who read this account during the current year will recognize that they are removed two generations from the times in which these events took place. Many customs will be foreign to them. There will be some difficulty in imagining Aunt Frances propped up in bed with leeches attached to her ears. Yet the use of leeches, prescribed by the family doctor to "bleed the patient", was once a common practice. Fifty years from now, if this writing prevails, many of the facts and anecdotes it contains may be regarded as pure fabrications.

Some of the incidents to which I was an eye-witness occurred more than fifty years ago; 2233 Magazine Street was demolished forty-one years ago; some of the members of the family about whom I shall write have passed away. I believe, therefore, that certain facts and episodes should be recorded now.

It is my intention to recall, in these pages, the happy times when all of us lived under one roof. Since those days of fond memory, each of us has gone his or her own way, and the passing of time has altered many things. Perhaps through this writing we can all once more assemble, in spirit, at 2233 Magazine Street, and then, as I have done, recall our blessings through so many years.

The compilation of this account and the reproduction of the photographs was not a brief or simple task, but it was a very enjoyable one. May it give pleasure and entertainment to all who read it.

I, the youngest of the Bernards of 2233 Magazine Street, have written this little book as a tribute to Mama and Papa, and to my ten sisters and brothers. I, the "baby" of the family,(and therefore the center of much attention as well as the source of much dissention), offer this little book to my sisters and brothers with my thanks for all they have done for me.




THE FAMILY

Papa was born in New Orleans on October 21, 1854. That was one year after the worst epidemic of yellow fever ever recorded in New Orleans.

Papa was six years old at the outbreak of the Civil War. He told us that when the Yankees occupied New Orleans, he was old enough to resent their presence, but remembered very little about the occupation.

Inside the cover of a prayer book printed in French, (1845), there is glued a little rectangle of paper on which Papa printed:

SOUVENIR
DE MA BONNE
MAMAN
LE JOUR DE MA PREMIERE COMMUNION
17 MAI 1866
FRANCIS BERNARD NOUVELLE ORLEANS

As a young man, Papa attended Seten Hall College in West Orange, New Jersey. In 1872 he returned to his home, 105 Kelerec Street, (now 1233 Kelerec Street), and was employed as a clerk by the firm of G. A. Lanaux.

Papa married Elizabeth Hauck on August 19, 1878. The ceremony was performed by the Reverend Joseph Subileau in St. Augustine's Church.

That year brought to New Orleans an epidemic of yellow fever overshadowed only by the one in 1853. On the day that Papa was married there were forty-seven deaths from yellow fever, and the total deaths to that date were 313. Within two months, the total deaths had risen to more than 3500.

Papa's and Elizabeth's children are: Felix, Joseph, who died in childhood, Edgar, Frank, Elizabeth, and Jeanne.

By the year 1882, Papa had advanced from clerk to bookkeeper in the Lanaux firm, and by 1885 held the position of cashier.

Elizabeth died on January 24, 1892, when her youngest daughter, Jeanne, was only nine months old.

On November 7, 1893, Papa married Cunigunda Groebel, my mother. It is noteworthy that when Papa married Elizabeth Hauck, Mama's age was eight years and one week.

Papa's and Mama's children are: Cunigunda, Amelie, Gerard, Clemens, Louis, and Guy. (Almost, too, Maximillian.)

All of the above mentioned except Elizabeth Hauck-Bernard and Joseph Bernard lived in the house at 2233 Magazine street. "Nor was this all", as the poet, Gerard, wrote. Mama's half-sister, Mary Groebel, her sisters Josephine (Fienie), Mathilda (Tillie), and Frances (Fannie), all of whom were unmarried, also lived in the house.

Fienie and Fannie lived at 2233 Magazine Street until the family moved in 1917. Mary left earlier and went to live with another sister, (Vickie) Victoria, Mrs. Ed. Barre. Shortly after Mary left, Tillie "to the convent went, to finish up her years", as the poet put it. At this writing, Tillie is still "finishing up her years in perfect health, except for rheumatism.

Temporary residents of 2233 Magazine Street were the aforementioned Ed. Barre, his wife Vickie, and their children Amelie, Peter, Alphonse, and Elmire.

Another of Mama's sisters, Christina (Tienie), was Mrs. Philip Neubig, of Plaquemine, Louisiana.

Papa's brothers and sisters were: George, Rev. Edgar, S. J., Therese (Bebe), Marie, Amelie, and Noemie (Mimi). The last two women spent most of their long lives as Madames of the Sacred Heart.

The alliteration in the Groebel women's names is unique: Cunie, (that was Mama), Fienie, Tillie, Fannie, Vickie, Tienie, and Mary. As a matter of spelling, the latter name is not compatible with the others, but holds its own phonetically.

Temporary residents of the house, "Miss" O'Hara and her daughter, Caroline Dies, and Christine Voelkel, not members of the family, are included in Gerard's poems.

For many years Papa and Mr. George Grima were partners in the rice business. Their office was first at 227 North Peters Street, and later at 223 Magazine Street.


PAPA

A short procession which was making its way down Camp Street arrived at South Street.

"There it is!! Look at the City Hall!" cried a little voice at the front of the procession.

"Walk properly!" ordered a full, deep voice at the rear. The procession consisted of four boys, followed by a man. I call the group a procession because the four boys always walked in a strict formation in pairs. Any deviation from that formation instantly elicited the command, "Walk properly!", from the adult's voice at the rear. If realignment did not take glace at once, a silver-tipped, polished walking cane reached forward and gently nudged the non-conformer back into his proper position.

I was one of the boys, and the other three were my brothers. Needless to say, the gentleman behind us was our father. Every Sunday morning Papa took us walking. Even heat and cold were not deterrents. Our miniature parade attracted much attention, and I have never wondered why.

I vividly recall Papa's black derby, black morning coat, pin-striped trousers, gray spats, and black shoes. He wore sideburns, a heavy mustache, and a pair of well-groomed, flowing whiskers, all of which were once black, but by 1910 had become handsomely grayed. He was short, almost stout, but his posture was faultless, and his every movement exhibited perfect ease. He knew and practiced what most men cannot learn in a lifetime --the correct elevation of the chin for the pedestrian, rather, as Papa termed it, "promeneur". He also practiced the art of smiling with his eyes. Of course, this may have been imperative for one with such a profusion of facial hair.

He was a master of walking-cane techniques, a skill at which we never ceased to wonder. He asserted that he liked to take a cane with him so that he would have something to carry, yet he never appeared to be carrying anything at all. Whenever an acquaintance approached, the cane would mystically transfer from his right hand to his left hand, leaving his right hand free to lift the derby at the proper instant, and hold it poised, like a caricatured halo, until the eyes had smiled and the head had bowed in greeting and recognition. Then Papa would deftly replace the derby, and mysteriously the cane would change hands again.

The relaxed single or multiple twirl of the cane when other pedestrians were at a safe distance was routine. So was the silent contact of the cane with the sidewalk, except when a series of rapid clicks served notice that Papa had something special to say to us.

Such a signal sounded seconds after we entered Lafayette Square. As we continued walking toward the stately facade of City Hall, which loomed higher as we approached it, Papa told us much about the building and its architect, James Gallier.

We viewed City Hall from several vantage points while Papa called our attention to certain details that he wanted us to notice and remember.

Such was our usual Sunday morning outing. Papa admired all that was cultural and historic, and encouraged us to become familiar with the finer things in New Orleans.


Papa had an air of great authority, and often demonstrated it. One might surmise that his whiskers and manner of dress, different from other men, tended to inspire a certain amount of awe. That was not true. Many other men wore the same kind of whiskers and clothes. There was something about Papa's bearing and expression that demanded attention and respect from strangers and friends alike.

I clearly recall his method of keeping our view of Mardi Gras parades unobstructed.

He used to walk with us to St. Charles Avenue and select a place on the curb from which we were to watch the parade. He would tell us to sit on the curb and to remain seated until the parade came. We always did so. His objective was not to immobilize us and thus be relieved of looking after us. By keeping us quietly seated, he was able to prevent us from disturbing others. As he told us, "Everyone should always be a gentleman, even at a parade".

Before long, some other children usually came by and stood in the street in front of us. This did not disturb Papa, for he always solved the problem in the same manner.

"Boy --- boy!" he would call out. One of the children would turn around.

"You are standing in front of my sons. They were here first. Now look --"

He would step into the street, and trace an arc on the asphalt in front of us with his cane.

"Do not stand in front of this line," he would say, and while all eyes were still upon him, he would trace the arc again. Then he would step back onto the curb and stand behind us.

No one ever dared to stand in front of the arc.


Each New Year's morning Papa took us visiting. We usually rode on a street car to the vicinity of St. Augustine's Church, and then began to walk. We never asked Papa about the custom, but one may safely assume that is was proper for the "men" of the family to visit older relatives and friends on New Year's morning.

Our first stop was customarily made at the residence of Pere Subileau on Governor Nicholls Street. A toothless old colored woman of slender frame used to admit us with a smiling "Bon annee!" This was followed by an uninterrupted flow of mumbled French as she bowed us into Pere's presence.

Pere, a venerable old man, wearing a black alpaca cassock, was always seated in a rocking chair, smoking a cigar. His majestic white beard, contrasting sharply with his black garb, flowed down upon his chest. He was always overjoyed to see us, and without arising from his chair, he expressed his delight in a barrage of French words, beginning "Ah---h! Bon annee!"

The hollow sound of his voice was silent at intervals for a second or two while he kissed each of us in turn on the forehead. His beard was very stiff, and sometimes one of us could not refrain from rubbing our nose and forehead in an attempt to alleviate the tickling sensation caused by Pere's beard. When this happened, Papa always cleared his throat in a significant manner. Apparently he did not understand --- his whiskers were not prickly like Pere's beard.

Our visit amounted to a kind of ceremony. After Pere had kissed us, he commented to Papa upon each of us in turn. We never understood a single word of his rapid flow of French, but his remarks must have been complimentary in a superlative degree, judging my Papa's pleased expression and his frequent interpolation of a smiling "Merci! Merci, Pere!"

When the quadruple encomium ended, the second part of the ceremony began. Pere summoned his two housekeepers, the Misses de Jaham.

As they entered, a double torrent of high-pitched French flooded the room, always beginning with a shrill "Ah! Ah---h! Bon annee, cheres! Bon annee!" Occasional bursts from Pere's hollow voice had no more power to interrupt their flow of words than' stones flung at random into a rushing stream. They sank at once out of hearing.

The two women slowly advanced upon us as they spoke, and stopped their flow of words only long enough to deliver a firmly placed, very moist kiss on each of our foreheads.

The de Jaham sisters looked exactly alike. They were duplicates as well in speech, manner, and dress, with a single exception --- one of them was only three quarters as tall as the other.

Long-sleeved black dresses, beginning with very high collars, covered their broad shoulders and copious bosoms, and contracted sharply at the waist. From that point, the dresses widened abruptly in three directions, and descended in multiple folds to about a half inch above the floor.

On week days they wore black dresses of a dull material, but on Sundays, Holy Days and holidays, they wore duplicates made of a glossy cloth.

The fact that one of the women seemed to be an abridged edition of the other solicited comment in all quarters.

When each of us had been duly kissed, there began what sounded to us like a battle of words. The shrill voices of the de Jaham women made Pere's voice sound sepulchral and strained by comparison. Papa's sonorous voice seemed pale and unhealthy. All four spoke simultaneously in French at a furious rate.

Finally this conversation --- if it could have been so called, since none of the quartet paused an instant to listen to any of the others --- ended. It was time to leave.

A shower of "Bon jour's", a single bristly kiss, and a pair of soggy ones on each forehead, and we were off.

A few blocks from Pere's we usually stopped at the residence of Mr. Rene Sere, who was Louis's godfather. We considered this visit, by comparison, dull, but we were always happy to see Mr. and Mrs. Sere.

For a little while Mr. Sere spoke in French with Papa, while Mrs. Sere spoke in English with us. Then she spoke in French with Papa and Mr. Sere changed to English for our benefit. After the expected "Bon jour's", but before we actually left the house, there was always a brief, rapid-fire, triple outburst in French.

We paid other visits, and finally went to see Papa's cousins, Antoinette and Regina Bernard. We knew that this would be the last call we were to make.

On North Robertson Street near Esplanade Avenue, there is still a house with a front cornice that makes it resemble a half-tester bed. This is where Antoinette and her sister Regina lived.

Antoinette, more able-bodied than her sister, always greeted us first with a loud and cheerful "Bon annee, cheres!" Regina, who had not been well for some years, managed a solemn "Bon annee", in a tone of resignation rather than joy. Then she wiped away a tear.

Regina's white hair, which was cut short, like a man's, never ceased to interest us. We wondered whether she went to the barber, or the barber came to her house. We had never heard of barbers making house calls, yet we were told that Regina never went downstairs. We dared not ask Papa about it.

Regina always wore a gray flannel mother hubbard with thin black stripes. We wondered whether she had shoes or bedroom slippers on her feet.

Regina, Antoinette, and Papa engaged at once in a conversation, in French, of course. It was a real conversation, because usually only one of them spoke while the other two listened. Once in a while Regina would take a handkerchief from her pocket and weep softly. Papa would pat her hand a little. She would dry her tears and join in the conversation again.

A few minutes later she would take out her handkerchief once more and blow her nose. We could never understand how this dear old soul, ailing and weak, could blow her nose with such a prolonged, horn-like sound. We never asked Papa about that, because we knew it would displease him.

Our visit to Antoinette and Regina ended much the same as it had begun. One "Bon jour! Bon annee!", joyous and hopeful, the other, sad and fatalistic. And always, one final tear.

When we reached our front gate at 2233 Magazine Street, Papa would unlock it for us. Before opening it, he would turn to us and say: "My sons, I have reason to be proud of all of you. Each of you behaved like a little gentleman!"




THE GROUNDS

A fence of heavy cast-iron pickets, mounted on a cement-covered brick coping guarded the wide front of our property. The rank of gray ornamental spears was broken only by a massive iron gate and two tall, square iron posts.

From one of the posts protruded a white porcelain knob. When this knob was pulled vigorously, a bowl-shaped gong, fastened behind the post responded with a single, sonorous clang. Since the gate was usually locked, it sometimes required considerable patience on the part of an unexpected caller, who was obliged to wait until one of the adult inmates of the house appeared with a key. We children were not allowed to unlock the gate for anyone whom we did not know.

The front yard and the paths on each side of the house were paved with squares of pink flagstones. All garden beds and both lawns were slightly higher than the flagstone surfaces, and were retained by a six-inch coping of cement-covered brick.

Between the gate and the front steps, a pair of palms grew in small, square beds. To the right of these were plants and flowers in five beds of various shapes. To the left stood a circular rod-iron rose arbor, which encompassed a wooden lawn swing. Some years the vines grew in profusion and were laden with buds --- other years the growths died down and scarcely bloomed at all.

Along the left side of our property a narrow lawn extended about forty feet to a high hedge of lugustrum. The flagstone walk beside this lawn was shaded by an arched, rod-iron grape arbor. The grape vines did not bear well, and the grapes had little taste. This, however, did not deter us from climbing the arbor and eating all the grapes.

Beyond the lugustrum hedge was a single cypress cistern, and further on was a rectangular chicken yard fenced with cypress lattice.

Last of all there was a small, two-storied brick outbuilding which we called the "wash-house". A wooden overpass connected the second floor of the wash house to the last room of the main house. Several feet from the overpass was the top section of a two-storied cistern.

Near the front of the lawn on the right of the house stood a towering magnolia tree. On this lawn was our baseball diamond, dusty, and deeply worn through the thick grass. A fence of cypress lattice just beyond home plate separated the lawn from the "back yard".

Behind the fence lay a broad expanse of pavement, broken only by three small circular flower beds and a covered well with an iron pump.

At the rear of this yard stood several sheds. The smallest, a low-roofed structure, supported on posts and having no front or side walls, was known as the "coal shed". A taller structure, with two sides and the back enclosed, and with mesh wire across the front, was known as the pigeon-house". A still taller and more spacious shed beside this was divided into two unequal parts. The larger section, which contained a two-seated, enclosed privy, was known as the "woodshed", and the smaller section was known as the "robber-house". This latter name came into being as the result of footprints which we could not identify.

The lot on which 2233 Magazine Street stood was one hundred and twenty-five feet in depth and ninety-five feet in width. Gerard, who was training for a track meet in 1912, used a clothes pole to measure the distance around the house, following the flagstone walks. He estimated the route to be about two hundred feet. 3ix circuits of the house amounted to approximately a quarter of a mile.


I have many memories of details of the yard as well as events that took place therein.

Everyone admired the pair of palms near the front gate. Papa was particularly proud of them and almost never failed to inspect them each time he entered or left the house. For our part, we were careful not to damage them, and we took it upon ourselves to care for the border of forget-me-nots in the beds under the palms. On Friday and Saturday preceding Palm Sunday, we maintained a twenty-four hour alert, although the gate was always locked. Attempt to steal the palm branches were made each year.

The garden beds in the front yard contained a variety of plants and flowers. I have forgotten the names of most of them, but I remember that a profusion of violets bordered the perimeter of each bed. There were several kinds of rose bushes, including a miniature type, the full blooms of which were no larger than the marbles we usually carried in our pockets.

In the late spring there were daisies by the hundreds, and we used to cut unbelievable numbers every day or so. We gave most of them to the neighbors.

There were two kinds of geraniums in the garden--one bore a bright red flower, and the other a cream-colored, perforated bloom. We called the latter, correctly or not, "fish geranium". Its blooms were used to flavor wine which we somehow never tasted.

Near the side steps grew a Japanese plum tree, which was a great rarity in those days. Each year we would attempt to eat the plums while they were still green, because we did not have sufficient patience to wait for them to ripen. We never learned how they actually tasted.

Not far from the plum tree was a heavy growth of "elephant ears". On one occasion Clemens succeeded in eating a sizeable portion of one of these leaves. His tongue, lips, and cheeks became inflamed and swollen to a frightening degree, but in a few hours returned to normal size.

Clemens made more than one attempt to eat the leaves of a rubber tree which grew near the front steps. He did not succeed, because the thick, milky juice of this plant was too sticky and bitter to be swallowed.


The magnolia tree was a source of profit for several years. We used to collect the cone-shaped burs which fell from it and sell them to Aunt Tillie. She paid us five cents for a soap box full. When stored until dry, they made a useful addition to ordinary kindling and blazed with great heat.

It never occurred to us that any harm could befall our magnolia tree. A giant, it was laden with leaves at all times and with hundreds of burs and flowers in season. We believed that the tree was nothing less than eternal.

We received a severe shock when Papa told us that the tree was in danger of falling, and would have to be cut down. As he sat on the gallery, Papa had observed that even a moderate breeze caused the trunk to sway noticeably. Not only was a source of income about to be cut off, but we would lose our life-long friend.

Papa engaged Senetta, our gardener, to remove the tree. One morning Senetta and his son placed an extension ladder against the trunk and climbed up. We thought that their ascent was amateurish, and our opinion was soon to be proven correct.

When the men reached the lower branches, the elder Senetta straddled one of them and worked his way painfully out from the trunk. We knew that any of us could have done it better. When he was a few feet from the trunk, his son handed him a saw. As he began to rove farther out on the limb, he promptly dropped the saw. It struck the grass with a whistling hiss, leapt convulsively about for a few seconds, and then lay still. The younger Senetta descended the ladder, retrieved the saw, and returned it to his father. The elder man inched out on the branch with extreme caution and evident misgivings. Even in the dusk of the branches, we noted that his Iberian tawn had changed to ivory. Finally he began to saw the branch with unsteady, awkward movements.

By noon he had succeeded in cutting off half a dozen short sections of branches, but the tree looked unscathed. When he descended for lunch he asked to see Mama. He told her that he wished to abandon the attempt to fell the tree. He pronounced the project "too risky".

The thought that the tree might somehow be spared came to our minds, but this hope soon vanished. A few days after the Senetta fiasco, Papa told us that he had engaged a tree surgeon. That sounded very foreign and serious to us, and although we had no idea what a tree surgeon was, we feared that our tree was doomed.

Early the next morning five men entered the yard. We were puzzled when Papa told us that they were tree surgeons, because they looked like typical workmen.

Without delay, an extension ladder was placed against the tree trunk. One of the men fastened a coil of thin rope to his belt and ascended the ladder with an elastic step. Displaying great nimbleness, he climbed from branch to branch until he was nearly at the top of the tree.

He removed the coil of rope from his belt, tied one end of it to the tree trunk and let the rope ripple to the ground. By that time one of the men on the ground stood ready with a coil of heavy rope. He tied the ends of the thin and the thick ropes together. The man in the tree quickly pulled the rope up, fastened the heavier one to the tree trunk and let the thin one drop down again. A man on the ground immediately looped the rope through the handle of a saw. The man in the tree top now climbed down to the lowest branch and pulled the saw up.

In a moment he began to saw through the branch about a foot from the trunk. We were instantly able to visualize the procedure they would follow. Starting with the lowest, they intended to cut off each branch. This would assure every branch a clear fall, without danger of snarling other branches on the way down.

By leaving a foot of each branch protruding from the trunk, the workmen would never be without a means of climbing up or down.

It was evident that these men were not earth-bound, like our gardener. It was also evident that our tree would not be standing much longer. We realized that this was the end.

Before the saw had time to cut deeply into the branch, the foreman asked us to move back to a safe distance. We did so, and a moment later we were ordered to a still safer distance by one of our elders--I do not remember which one.

A few minutes later there was a sharp, cracking sound, a swish of leaves, and the branch plunged earthward. The workman who had cut it down looped the rope through the handle of the saw and tied it to the stump of the limb. Then he descended the ladder.

One of his colleagues ascended and began to sever another branch. With one worker replacing another, and a fresh pair of arms always in readiness, the work proceeded quickly.

It was not long before all branches had been cut down and dragged to the front part of the lawn. The trunk of the tree, still unconquered, stood upright with the nubs of branches protruding in every direction. We began to wish that the branches could have been put back in their laces.

Next, the thin, upper part of the tree was cut off. When he had made certain that the thick rope was securely fastened about the upper trunk, the man in the tree tied the end of the slender rope to the saw and let it slip down to the ground. As soon as the saw rested on the grass, he released the rope, which dropped into a heap about the saw. Then he climbed down from the tree.

The thick rope was brought to the rear of the lawn. Here it was pulled taut and secured to a heavy peg that had been driven deep into the ground. When we realized that the peg was one of the branches of the tree, we were startled. This seemed to us almost treason--a branch was ready to assist in pulling down the trunk that gave it birth.

Axe and saw began eating away at the part of the trunk toward the street. It was slow, strenuous work, even though one man relieved another. The cut finally became large enough to indicate that the trunk might soon be pulled to the ground. To measure their progress, the men tugged at the heavy rope. The trunk leaned a little toward them in response, but immediately returned to a vertical position when they relaxed tension on the rope.

They resumed their attack upon the trunk. At that moment we were called for lunch. Our loud protest was of no avail. Lunch was ready. We obeyed.

Upon entering the dining room, we were dismayed to find that the blinds which led to the gallery were closed. When we inquired why this was so, we were told that no one should be distracted during a meal.

We sat down and began to bolt our food. With great satisfaction, we noted that our elders were eating much faster than usual, but we refrained from comment.

There was very little conversation. Everyone was thinking about the tree. Periods of silence grew longer as the minutes passed.

Suddenly, the table and floor seemed to rise up. Simultaneously, there was a ponderous, muffled thud outside. The tree had fallen. We rose in unison, and our twenty-four legs carried us hurriedly toward the closed blinds. The sash was quickly raised and the blinds were thrown open. The family poured out onto the side gallery. All eyes were fixed upon the fallen giant. Limbless, he lay prone in the grass, extending nearly to home plate, from which his furious descent had thrown up a cloud of dust.

No one spoke. Tears glistened in a few pairs of eyes. Finally, we descended the side steps and walked over to our prostrate friend. We examined the upper section of the trunk which had been out of human reach since before Mama was born.

We had hardly begun to speculate upon what was to be done with the tree before the answer was evident. The men began to saw the trunk into sections. The tree would be used for firewood.

During life, the tree had provided us with cool shade, but its service to us had not ended. After death it would provide us with warmth.


The man who swept our yard and did odd jobs was an aged negro named Jackson. Papa called him a "yard boy", but Frank said that "yard grandpa" would have been more fitting.

We did not know Jackson's age. I doubt if he knew it himself. The hair on his head looked like gray wool, and matched the color of the scant growth on his chin, which he called a "goatee".

Although Jackson moved slowly, he never did less than was expected of him, nor did he work carelessly. Every afternoon he raked leaves, gathered rubbish, and swept the entire yard. He worked for another family in the morning.

Mama told us of the manner in which Papa had protected Jackson during the Robert Charles riot (July 24, 1900). As soon as Papa learned that a riot was in progress, he telephoned Mama from his office and told her not to allow Jackson to leave our premises. He also told her that it was imperative for Jackson to remain in the back yard the entire day. Without giving any reasons for these unusual instructions, Papa insisted that they be followed without fail.

When he returned home that afternoon, Papa went into the back yard to speak with Jackson. He told Jackson that mobs were roaming the streets in several localities. Police were attempting to disperse these groups, but as soon as one gathering disbanded, another formed elsewhere.

When Jackson heard the news, he paled perceptibly, and his eyes widened. Papa told him that he was not to attempt to return to his home. He was to remain at 2233 Magazine Street overnight. He could sleep in the woodshed.

"But missuh Bennahd," Jackson said, "dem mens might burn yo house down if dey know ahm is heah!"

"They will not know you are here if you stay out of sight," Papa answered.

The matter was settled. Jackson slept in the woodshed that night and several more nights until all violence had ceased. During the day he remained in the back yard where he could not be seen by people in the street.

It is impossible to estimate how much risk was involved by keeping Jackson on our premises. No mobs came into sight, but they were known to have been nearby. If Jackson's presence on our property had been discovered, there may have been an incident.


At one time or another, nearly all boys are consumed with a desire to build some kind of hut with their own hands, and to know that it is for their own special and private use. Long ago, such a hut was called a "camp", --- more recently a "club-house", and to-day it would probably be called a "hide-out".

Like other boys, my brothers and I wanted to build our own house in the yard. To us it was to be neither "camp" nor "club-house", but simply a "house".

For several weeks we collected boards of various lengths and thicknesses, and stored them in a special place in the woodshed. We also collected every available nail, large or small, new or rusty. At the expense of many a bruised finger, we straightened out every nail.

When we had accumulated what we believed was a sufficient amount of building material, we decided to begin construction of our house near the one-story cistern in the side yard.

We spent an entire morning in building our house.

When completed, it was not nearly as large as we thought it would be. Actually, it resembled a battered and patched packing-case, but we saw only solidity and elegance.

During the early afternoon we played in and about the house. As the hours passed, we realized that Papa would soon come home from his office. We began to wait impatiently to show him our house, of which we were very proud.

After what seemed a long time, we heard Papa unlocking the front gate. We rushed to meet him, and invited him to come to the side yard and view our architectural accomplishment. When Papa looked at the house, his expression revealed that he was not pleased.

He walked up to the house and did exactly what we expected him to do--he prodded it in a few places with his walking cane. That was his method of examining anything that he did not wish to touch. He walked around the house, and then bent over to look at the interior. This was not difficult to do, because instead of making a door, we had simply left one end of the structure open. There were dozens of nails protruding inside. Papa's expression was one of mixed astonishment and horror. Apparently he did not believe that it had been possible for us to have driven so many nails in a single morning. He looked at us, then bent over further, and peered inside again.

He stood up, cleared his throat, pulled his vest down to remove the wrinkles, and cleared his throat again. All eyes were upon him as we awaited his verdict.

"Papa?" one of us said.

He was silent for a moment. As he elevated his chin, we were afraid that he might walk away without speaking.

"The house must come down," he said, softly.

We began to protest.

"It is too dangerous--why, I never saw so many nails!" Papa continued. "If it is still there tomorrow afternoon, I will have to take it down myself."

With a twirl of his walking-cane, Papa left us.

We looked at each other. Our thoughts were one, and when we held a consultation to determine what we should do to avert the loss of our house, we were in spontaneous agreement. First, we believed that Papa would change his mind by the next afternoon--second, we believed that the house was too strong for him to knock down. Upon deeper reflection, we realized that Papa's objection to the house seemed to arise from the great number of exposed nails. We decided to bend the nails over. This would not only remove the source of his objection, but would greatly strengthen the house. If Papa really intended to break it down, he might abandon the attempt when he found how really strong and safe it was.

The next afternoon as we were playing about the house, we were startled by Papa's sudden appearance. He had come home earlier than usual.

He said that he was disappointed because we had not obeyed him, and that he would have to demolish our house. Omitting the preliminary probing with his cane, Papa began to push against the upper part of the house. It did not budge. He walked around to the other side of the house and pushed from that direction. The house remained steady. After several more fruitless attempts, Papa said that Edgar would soon be home, and that he would ask Edgar to demolish our house.

Before long, Edgar arrived, and following Papa's directive, began pushing the top part of the house to discover a point of weakness. He soon found it. The end, top, and sides were strong, but were not well joined to each other. Every time Edgar threw his weight forward, the house lurched with a crunching sound, as the cracks between its sides widened. When he had sufficiently weakened the structure, and had noted that an adequate audience of family members had assembled, Edgar realized that the time was ripe for a final, spectacular effort.

He withdrew a few feet from the house, and made a furious lunge forward. The house, now incapable of resistance, collapsed and fell, and as it did so, sheared off the faucet of the cistern.

Edgar, still leaning upon the house as it descended, was immediately soaked by the spouting water. A cry of surprise and delight went up from the gathering. For a moment, no one thought of making any attempt to stop the flow of water. Then pandemonium reigned.

"Bring an umbrella --- quick!" shouted one of the family, who had once been told that a tightly furled umbrella, forced into a hole, could stop the flow of water.

"That's ridiculous!" retorted another, "all the water is on the ground!"

The misunderstood suggestion was discarded. Water continued gushing from the cistern.

"Bring some Potatoes!" called out another, who was aware that a potato of suitable size might be rammed into a hole as a temporary plug.

This appeal was immediately heeded, if not understood, for Aunt Mary, who was ready to serve dinner, rushed out into the yard, carrying a large dish of steaming, fluffy, mashed potatoes.

Water was beginning to flood over the ground at our feet, and we were forced to move backward. Papa told us to go to the dining room for dinner. We obeyed.

To this day, I do not know how the flow of water was stopped.


Papa was very charitable. He not only donated to charity through official channels, but never failed to help needy persons on the streets.

In moderate weather, it was Papa's custom to spend much of his time at home on the upstairs gallery. By daylight, he usually read, and we never disturbed him.

Although we did not intrude upon his reading, we remember a person who repeatedly did so. This man walked with a cane, and his crouched posture indicated that he was a cripple. His painful progress along the sidewalk always came to a halt near our front gate. He would stand unsteadily and slowly remove his hat from his head. Then he would lift his face as much as his bowed posture would allow, and manage a tortured smile to Papa.

The hand that had removed the hat would remain extended, holding the hat in an inverted position. The hat appeared to float in the air with an uncertain movement.

Papa used to wrap a quarter in a scrap of newspaper to prevent it from rolling about, and drop it down into the front yard. Then he would call one of us and direct us to bring the coin to the cripple.

When we had delivered the quarter into the cripple's unsteady hand, he would look up at Papa. With convulsive movements of the jaw; and a strange, inarticulate babbling from the toothless mouth, the upturned face would thank Papa.

The floating movement of the hat would change to a slow bobbing up and down as the painful journey along the sidewalk resumed.

I am certain that there were tears in Papa's eyes. An ardent "promeneur", he must have been deeply touched by this beggar's tortured progress.

Before the cripple passed out of sight at the end of our property, he always turned, with excruciating effort, to offer a final grimace of thanks.

We felt sorry for the man, until we made a shocking discovery. He had passed the house one day as usual, and had accepted the customary quarter. Gerard happened to be in the next block, and recognized the beggar, who was then walking erect, at a lively pace, without the use of his cane. Furthermore, he was whistling a tune and flipping the quarter that Papa had just given him.

When Gerard reported this fact to Papa, it was received with cold disbelief. Papa finally agreed to follow the man a few days later. Discovery of deceit in this beggar did not lessen Papa's compassion for anyone else who appeared to need help.


There were many little chores about the yard that Jackson was not expected to do. Louis and Clemens were called upon to do most of these odd jobs, since they were older and stronger than I was.

They used to object because I was not expected to work as hard as they were. For my part, I protested that since they were occasionally paid a few cents for performing certain tasks, but I was never paid at all, there was no incentive for me to work too hard.

We finally came to an agreement. I was to work for them, and they were to pay me. Since they received fees without any regularity or dependability, they offered me a salary of one cent per month, payable at the end of the month.

I accepted their offer. All went well for a few days, but as soon as I demonstrated sufficient willingness to work, my brothers began to take advantage of me. Perhaps I am guilty of misjudging them, but I distinctly remember that it was I who always carried the heavier objects, while they carried the lighter ones. When they carelessly forgot to bring any tools or materials to perform a task, it was I who had to go fetch the forgotten articles. This happened more-often than not. They took frequent rests while I continued working alone--they claimed that I needed the opportunity to learn.

A few days-before I had completed the first full month of work, Louis and Clemens ordered me to transport a large box full of tools and materials. Unseen by them, I had watched their combined efforts fail to move the box. Yet they insisted that I take it to another part of the yard, unaided. Naturally, I refused to try.

That terminated our agreement. I was fired on the spot, and since I had not worked quite a full month, they told me that I had forfeited my salary.


The lower floor of the wash-house was equipped for washing clothes. The upper floor was equipped for washing people. This "bathroom", if it may have been so called, was our only bathroom before Papa added another near his bedroom. After that, it was called the "back bathroom", and the new one became known as "Papa's bathroom".

It is not difficult to understand why Papa wanted to have a bathroom near the front of the house. A glance at the sketch of the floor plan will indicate that the distance from the front of the house to the back bathroom, with the return trip included, was nearly two hundred feet.

The lower floor of the wash-house enclosed a curious kind of brick vault, the walls of which were independent of the walls of the wash-house. The ceiling of the vault, which was about seven feet high, was made of brick. The heavy door, three inches in thickness, was made of graduated layers of sheet iron and asbestos, and resembled the door of a steel safe.

Our family did not use the vault for storage, and for a few years a heavy padlock prevented us from entering it.

About 1911, Gerard became interested in photography, and asked permission to use the vault as a darkroom. After some deliberation, Mama agreed to allow him to do so.

There were so many articles stored in the vault that some of them had to be moved aside or stacked upon others to provide space in which to carry out film development processes.

For the benefit of those who are interested in photography it would be well to tell something about developing equipment in 1911.

The safe light was a small, square, collapsible lantern made of red linen panels held in place by metal frames. Being translucent, the red linen cast a kind of ruddy glow upon its immediate surroundings. The source of light was a short candle. When it had been lighted, the cover of the lantern would be snapped closed.

Daylight developing tanks had not yet been invented. Three open trays were used for developer, short stop, and hypo. 'Films had to be developed in almost total darkness. The safe light was used, but even its feeble glow had to be shaded and removed a few feet from the immediate area.

Then exposed film had been unrolled, a metal clip was fastened to each end. Using these clips as handles, the operator began the "development" bath, as it was called. Held by the clips, the film formed an elongated letter "U". The lower part was immersed in the developing solution, and the process began. By raising and lowering each hand alternately, the entire surface of the film could be bathed in the solution.

An experienced operator, such as Gerard quickly became, realized that the film must not be moved at uniform speed, or the middle section would receive more development than the ends. Gerard used a technique which accelerated the movement of the film at the middle and retarded it at both ends.

After sufficient development had taken place, a brief bath in the short stop solution followed. The process ended with a bath in the hypo solution.

Up, down, up, down, went the hands and arms of the operator in those days. It was very tiresome work, in spite of the negligible weight of the film and clips.

We made prints of the pictures in sunlight, using paper which produced shades of blue instead of the present day black and gray.

Copies of some of the photographs which we took and processed are in this book. They are: Clemens, Louis, 2233 circa 1912, and the Misses de Jaham.

It was unbelievably dark in the vault even when the door stood wide open, and we became curious to know what was stored in the black recesses.

A kind of counter, about three feet above the brick floor, made of thick planks of cypress, ran the entire length of the vault. It was upon this counter that Gerard used his photographic equipment. Below the counter were two shelves of thinner boards.

Above the counter, against the wall, were numerous pigeon holes, such as a post office employs for sorting mail.

We were never able to deduce what the function of such furnishings may have been, nor why the vault had been built to be almost impregnable. Evidently, it must have contained valuables, as the thick door and padlock attested. It could not have been used for the confinement of humans, because the door was the only opening in the structure, and there were no ventilators.

On either side of the door, dark spaces were filled with objects whose shapes and sizes we could not clearly distinguish.

With Mama's approval, we began to remove the contents of the vault. We believed that some of the articles would be useful, and we hoped to be able to sell the others.

Among the smaller articles we found in the vault were several cast-iron fire sets, consisting of poker, shovel and andirons; several coal scuttles; at least half a dozen moulds of different sizes for making wax candles; several very rusty flatirons of different weights; and a variety of garden tools, some of which were broken and useless; and several boxes of door-knobs, locks, latches, and assorted hardware.

We also found a copper bath tub which was extremely rare even in those days and would be a museum piece to-day. It was made of sheet copper and resembled an armchair with a high back. A large, deep basin, attached in front of the seat, rested on the floor; this basin, in which the feet of the bather were immersed, had a capacity of three gallons when filled to the brim.

The object which interested us most was an oblong wooden box, six feet long, a foot high, and eighteen inches wide. It was very heavy. As we dragged it out, it looked much like a coffin, and I daresay that we secretly hoped it would prove to be one.

When we opened the box we found that it contained a large number of brass rods of various lengths and thicknesses. They were covered with the familiar blue-green deposit that usually coats old brass.

We removed the rods one by one, and sorted them by sizes and lengths. All were perfectly straight except four, which were arc shaped. Both ends of many rods were threaded.

As soon as all of the pieces were sorted, we began to fit them together, and realized that we had discovered a small brass bed, with a low, full-length tester. All pieces fitted together perfectly.

A few days later, when we had cleaned and polished every rod, we carried them upstairs and reassembled the bed. We borrowed a mattress from one of the unused beds in the rear part of the house and placed it on our newly found bed.

Needless to say, the first night that each of us slept in the brass bed, we experienced a creepy, tantalizing sensation, and wondered whose ghost would appear to us during the night.

No one knew who had stored most of the articles in the vault originally. Mama remembered that she had put one fire set and a flat-iron or two into the vault. Former occupants of the house must have stored all the other articles there. Since Mama had never explored the vault, nearly everything we removed from it was as new to her as it was to us.







The House

A pair of large wooden doors, with shuttered upper halves guarded the vestibule entrance. Just beyond was the front door, which had a single pane of Florentine glass in its upper half. The numbers 659 were etched on the clear glass of the transom. They were of no use when we lived at 2233 Magazine Street, because all houses had been renumbered some years before.

The furnishings of the hall were simple. Along the wall on the right were two glass-front, sectional book-cases and several chairs. On the left, near the bottom of the stairs was a hat rack-settee.

In the rear of the hall stood a large coal stove. Its pipe rose vertically and curved out of sight into the upstairs hall. To this stove fell the task of heating both floors of the front part of the house. "Anthracite, nut size", as it was designated by coal dealers, was the fuel required for this type of stove. Several times a day, the grate, or floor of the furner had to be shaken from side to side to cause the ashes to fall into a metal drawer at the bottom of the stove. When the ashes had cooled they were carried out of the house and put into cans which were later emptied by the D. P. W., Department of Public Works.

Near the front door was a single gas light in a clear glass bowl. This fixture was attached to the lower end of a pipe that resembled an elongated letter "J", with its upper end reaching the ceiling.

Throughout the downstairs and in the front part of the upstairs, each gas light was equipped with a mantle. Cup-shaped, and made of very fine, fragile asbestos mesh, a mantle fitted in an inverted position over an ordinary gas jet. It operated on the principle of the miner's lamp by confining combustion within the mesh. Brilliance of the ordinary gas-jet was greatly increased by the mantle without consuming extra gas.

The flame of an unmantled gas-jet resembled that of a kerosene lamp, and gave about the same amount of light.

In the first parlor, which was separated from the second only by a shallow arch, there was a sofa and half a dozen chairs. All were upholstered with black horse-hair. There was also a black upright piano which belonged to Aunt Fienie. A small table stood in the center of the floor beneath the chandelier.

Four family portraits hung on the walls: Onesiphore and "Grandma" Martinez, Felix and Theresa Bernard.

The second parlor did not boast a complete parlor set. It contained a sofa, a rocker, several straight chairs, a table, and a Chickering upright piano.

In the dining room there were two side-boards, one large dining room table, and two smaller tables. Besides the fourteen chairs which we used regularly, there were a few others for guests.

The narrow hall which crossed the house behind the main hall and the second parlor was furnished with a hat rack and Grandpa Groebel's desk.

Near the pantry door, in the hall which connected the front part of the house with the kitchen, was a pair of water filters.

Two walls of the pantry were lined with shelves that extended almost from the floor to the ceiling.

The kitchen was originally two rooms, but before our family occupied the house, the intervening wall had been removed. A narrow patch across the ceiling indicated where the wall had once been.

One kitchen safe stood beside the chimney. Another was placed against the wall a little beyond the second door. Two tables were arranged end to end in the middle of the room. Between the two windows there was a small gas stove and a counter for preparing food. The soft, thick planks of which this counter was made were very difficult to clean thoroughly. Although they were scrubbed several times a day, roaches which were crawling about the counter at night used to scurry out of sight as we approached with a lighted candle.

A kitchen sink had been installed near the second window. This sink had a wooden drain-board attached, and was itself a wooden trough, lined with zinc and fitted with a drain pipe. The words "zinc" and "sink" were thoughtlessly confused and used interchangeably in those days. The word "zinc" is still used by many persons to-day instead of "sink", although this metal is not any longer employed in kitchen appliances.

Close to the chimney at the rear of the kitchen was a wood-burning stove. Its narrow fire-box was on the left, with a drawer for ashes below. To the right of the fire-box was a cooking surface for four large pots. Beneath this portion was an oven. The conventional stove pipe rose vertically from the back of the stove, turned at right angles and entered the chimney.

The room behind the kitchen contained a few chairs, a table, and an ice chest. Constructed of wood and lined with galvanized sheet metal, the ice-chest was depended upon to keep food fresh. Its cover consisted of a pair of wooden panels, capable of sliding one above the other to allow access to the interior of the chest.

Ice was kept in the bottom of the chest, and as it melted, water drained out through a hole. Beneath this hole there was a pan which had to be emptied and replaced at least twice a day in warm weather. The interior of the chest was furnished with two shelves made of thin metal rods. To reach food on the lower shelf, it was necessary to remove a portion of the upper shelf together with the food stored on it. When the supply of ice was replenished each morning, all food and both shelves had to be removed from the chest.

As mentioned earlier, the front hall downstairs was illuminated by a single gas light. In each parlor hung a chandelier with six lights. The dining room had a chandelier with only four lights; the hall which crossed the house, a single light; the hall to the kitchen, no light; the pantry, no light; the kitchen, one light; the room behind the kitchen, no light.

A lighted candle was needed to make one's way about the house after dark. If gas was to be lighted in a dark room, the candle had to be put down and a match employed to light the gas. The candle could not be held in the proper position to ignite the gas without danger of being snuffed out. If it was extinguished in a fruitless attempt to light the gas, one had to shut off the gas and begin the operation over by striking a match. Care had to be taken not to start a fire or to cause an explosion.

Near the rear of the upstairs hall was a large worktable. It was here that we read or studied in the evening. The rule was: No conversation--no wasting time.

There was a sewing machine near the window, and a large walnut armoire against the opposite wall.

Papa's bathroom measured about ten by ten feet. It was attached to the house, and its two outer corners rested on a pair of six-inch iron pines. There was a window on each of the outside walls. A bathtub, a toilet, a wash-bowl with triple mirror and shelf were not the only installations. There was also an instantaneous hot water heater.

(There was no running hot water in the back bathroom. Water had to be heated in kettles on the kitchen stove and carried up the stairs to the back bathroom.)

The roof of Papa's bathroom was made of sheet metal, and rose up in a gentle slope from each wall. Formally, there would have been a peak where the four sections of the roof met, but in this case the roof was surmounted by a ventilator. Long, thin chains for opening or closing the ventilator hung down inside the ventilator shaft within easy reach. This arrangement did much toward keeping the bathroom cool in summer by providing an exit for warm air which would have been confined near the ceiling of an ordinary room.

Each bed at 2233 Magazine Street was equipped with a fine cloth netting, hung from the tester and called a "mosquito bar". There were no screens on doors or windows except in the kitchen, where the exclusion of flies was imperative.

In those days it was reasoned, and correctly so, that a screened house was not as cool as an unscreened one. Since mosquitoes abounded mostly after dark, it was believed that protection from them was necessary only during the night. It is true that cool air entering a house through unscreened windows is likely to reach the sleeper through the mosquito bar, whereas cool air restrained by window screens from entering the house at all would very likely not reach the sleeper.

Papa's and Mama's bedroom was the smallest in the house. It contained a double bed, a wash-stand, a small armoire, a marble top chest of drawers, two chairs, and a chiffoniere. For the information of the present generation, a chiffoniere was the name given to a tall, narrow chest of drawers. It was the current adaptation of the more handsome, but not more useful "highboy" of a hundred years earlier.

The bedroom above the first parlor changed furnishings as needed. It contained sometimes one, and other times two double beds. There was an armoire, a dresser, and a number of chairs in the room. Louis and I slept in this room, and on occasion, other persons used the extra bed.

There were always two double beds in the second bedroom. Amelie, Cunie, Jeanne, and Elizabeth occupied this room. Besides the two double beds, there were two large armoires, a washstand, several chairs, and a chest of drawers.

Frances, Fienie, and for a few years Tillie occupied the next bedroom, which was above the dining room. In this room there was a single bed, a double bed, an armoire, a washstand, a dresser, a sewing machine, and a small oval stove, called a "trash burner". The function of the trash burner was, primarily, of course, to dispose of trash, but it heated the room very well in winter. It was located close to the chimney, so that its pipe could easily enter the flue.

In the Groebel women's room there was also Frances' altar, which, although small, seemed to dominate all other furnishings. It was built on a small table set against the wall and covered with a white Cloth. Eighteen or twenty statues of various sizes and colors, several kinds of kerosene-burning red or white vigil lights, and a few easel pictures covered every square inch of the white cloth. On the wall just above the table hung several pictures, arranged in a triangular pattern that seemed to point upward to a black crucifix.

All vigil lights burned continuously, except when they were being cleaned or refueled. Each day Aunt Frances knelt before her altar with her Rosary, and recited her morning and night prayers there.

Aunt Frances had great faith in the power of Holy Water, and always kept an ample supply in a bottle under the altar. Each night, after everyone else had retired, Frances would arise and remove her Holy Water font from its hook on the door frame. Armed with the font, she began a circuit of the house, "to drive the devil out", as she put it. No one else was aware that Satan was lurking about, but perhaps Frances' routine was merely precautionary.

She moved from room to room in ghostly silence, except for a regular, habitual clearing of her throat. With a flourish of the little sponge which she kept in the Holy Water font, Aunt Frances was able to sprinkle even the remotest corner of each room, as well as the spaces above armoires and testers.

Special attention was given to sleepers. Stopping beside each bed, Aunt Frances would sprinkle Holy Water with vigorous determination, to make certain that some of the droplets found their way through the mosquito bar.

The first room in the narrow part of the house was occupied by Gerard and Clemens. It contained a double bed, a dresser, and an armoire.

Beyond this room was the first "playroom". There were no actual furnishings in this room, nor would there have been space for any. There were skates, balls and bats, drawing materials, a few small tools, and innumerable nondescript articles. This room opened onto the narrow back gallery.

Along this gallery was Frank's and Edgar's room, which was furnished with two single beds made of thin iron rods painted white, an armoire, a wash-stand, and a chest of drawers. There were two doors in this room with a window opposite each.

Last on this gallery was the second "playroom", which was seldom used as such. It contained a bed, a dresser, and an armoire. No one in the family used this room, and it was always available for visitors. From this room, one door led to the gallery and another to the overpass which connected the main house with the wash-house. Thus the room was a kind of passageway.

Just beyond the door of this room, the gallery ended. Here, an outside stairway, attached to the back of the house, descended to the pavement.


Miscellany

One of the first things I can clearly remember about Papa is that he was ill for what seemed to me a very long time. I recall going into his bedroom and saying: "Poor Papa! --- thick. Poor Papa! --- thick."

Of course I had been coached by Jeanne in this bit of oratory, because I was too young to distinguish between sickness and health. Nevertheless, the coaching and the delivery were eminently successful. Apparently Papa understood me, for he used to pat me approvingly on the head.

I was too young to be conscious of the fact that Papa, who had been in bed for a number of weeks, recovered in a phenomenally short time.

It was not until after Papa's death some ten years later that Mama told us about his prolonged siege of illness which terminated in sudden recovery.

Papa, according to Mama's account, worried about business matters until his pleasant conversation at home began to give way to periods of solemn silence and deep reflection. Gradually, as he became more despondent, he spoke less and less.

One morning he declared that he was not well and announced that he would stay home from his office. Mama summoned the doctor. After an examination, the doctor seemed puzzled, and instead of commenting upon Papa's condition, merely said that Papa was certain to be better in a day or two.

There was not only no immediate improvement, but instead, a noticeable, steady decline. Papa hardly spoke at all, and completely lost his appetite. He had always been a fervent reader, but now he refused to have books or periodicals in the room. He lay in bed most of the day, lost in profound thought. When he did arise for a few minutes, he walked unsteadily and seemed to have had no objective in getting out of bed.

The doctor returned a few days later, and encouraged Papa to go to his office. Papa firmly refused to do so. The doctor attempted to cheer him up and said that by the next day he would certainly be back at his desk. Papa made no reply, but plainly resented the statement.

After the third visit, the doctor diagnosed Papa's condition as "melancholia". As the days passed, Papa continued to be almost speechless, and was interested in nothing. Mention of returning to the office vexed him; it was evident, Mama said, that Papa was growing alarmingly worse each day. His expression became one of extreme despondency.

Mama prayed each day for his recovery, and solicited the prayers of several friends. Their prayers were not answered.

In desperation, Mama sought the counsel of a colored woman who was said to have effected cures --- a kind of voodoo. Mama refused to tell us the woman's name or where she lived.

According to Mama, the voodoo knew, or pretended to know that she had come on account of her husband's illness. The woman told Mama that there was no need to worry, because her husband would recover that same day if she followed the instructions she was about to receive.

The woman gave Mama a small bottle partially filled with a clear liquid. She instructed her to go home without delay, to pour this liquid into a bucket of water, and to scrub the stairway. Each step was to be scrubbed, beginning at the top and proceeding to the bottom. This would enable the "evil spirit" to descend. The solution that remained in the bucket was to be carried out of doors and poured on the ground. The evil sprit would follow the liquid into the earth.

The woman predicted that there would be a loud noise within the house soon after the scrubbing was completed, and that Papa's illness would quickly leave him.

Mama offered to pay a fee, or to give a donation, but the voodoo refused to accept any money. She claimed that it was her calling to help people recover through her powers. She required only that Mama have faith in Papa's recovery, and that she herself scrub the stairs.

Mama thanked the woman and returned home. She immediately carried out the orders she had received. As soon as she had completed the task, she went upstairs to see how Papa was faring.

At the moment she entered the upstairs hall, there was a heavy thump and a terrifying crash of shattering glass. A sudden gust of wind had slammed the door to the rear gallery and had broken its large pane of glass.

Seconds later Papa dashed into the hall, his whiskers askew and his night-shirt flying. Wide-eyed with excitement, he demanded to know what had happened. When Mama explained the source of the noise, he at once became calm.

"Suppose you call a man to repair it," he suggested to Mama, "I am going down to the office. It is after one o'clock already."

In a few minutes he had exchanged his night-shirt for his business clothes. He had suddenly thrown off his depression and had become a new man. He kissed Mama goodbye at the front door and said that he would be home at five o'clock for dinner, as usual.

Mama was astonished by his sudden recovery, but she made no comment. It was only when Papa assumed his customary erect posture and strode from the yard with a confident step that Mama recalled the words: "Nah you do lak' ah tell ya, honey --an' yer man'll git well terday!"


As is commonly known, it was dangerous to drink cistern water unless it had been boiled. In the days of 2233 Magazine Street, uncoiled tap water was likely to be as germ-laden as cistern water. Since cistern water was rain water, and chemically purer than tap water, we preferred it for drinking.

It was our custom to boil about five gallons of cistern water at a time and to filter them. Instead of a single filter, we had two, so that one could be in use while the other was being cleaned. A filter consisted of a pair of five-gallon ceramic corks, superimposed. The lower vessel had a brass spigot near the bottom. The upper vessel fitted snugly onto the top of the lower one, and was covered with a ceramic lid. In its slightly conical base was a three-inch hole, into which fitted a circular pumice-stone.

Water which had been boiled and allowed to cool was poured into the upper container. It filtered through the stone, and dripped into the lower container.

Our filters stood on a pair of square cypress stools in the narrow hall near the pantry door.

I believe that we all remember the occasion when Louis, overheated by strenuous play, drank seventeen jelly glasses of water consecutively. This was strictly against Papa's warning.

He had cautioned us to wait until we had cooled off before drinking any water, and to drink only a moderate amount after exertion. Louis had ignored the admonition, and retribution was almost instant. A few minutes after drinking, he hurried out of the house and vomited all seventeen glasses of water.


To supply our family with food was not a minor task. Shopping at the grocery and market could be depended upon for certain daily requirements, but the task of transporting everything needed each day would have been Samsonian. There were no automobiles for transporting supplies; domestic push-carts had not been invented; paper bags were of poor quality and limited in size. The market basket was the sole practical means of transporting food.

Since there were never less than a dozen of our family seated at each meal, some means other than daily shopping for food was imperative. The only way to satisfy the current needs of so many persons was to have supplies delivered to the house in quantity.

We were always happy when "grocery day", as we called it, arrived. Papa ordered our supplies wholesale, to be delivered indoors. There was much for us to do on grocery day.

The vehicle on which our supplies were transported was called a "float". This was a long, low flat wagon, with sides and back not more than eight inches high, which were detachable in sections to expedite loading and unloading. The float, which was built to haul a heavy load, was pulled by four horses.

A typical grocery order consisted of something like the following items:

coffee, 100 pound sack
sugar, 100 pound barrel
lard, 50 pound can
flour, 100 pound barrel
cane syrup, 50 gallon barrel
rice, 100 pound sack
red beans, 100 pound sack
lima beans, 100 pound sack
potatoes, two 100 pound sacks
onions, 100 pound sack
octagon soap, two gross
castile soap, 50 pounds
candles, one gross
dried corn (for chickens), 100 pound sack
other miscellaneous items

The delivery crew brought all of the above articles into the house and set them down in the pantry as directed. There were special platforms with short legs for the syrup and sugar barrels. These legs were inserted in castors filled with axle-grease to prevent ants from reaching the barrels.

Octagon soap was removed from the wooden boxes in which it had been delivered, and each bar had to be unwrapped.

Soap in those days needed drying and hardening. Since the wrapper on Octagon soap was a coupon, there were always eager hands ready to unwrap the soap and to stack it on shelves.

Coffee delivered by the sack was green, and had to be parched and ground as needed. Coffee beans were put into a large baking pan and placed in the oven. It was important to stir the beans from time to time so that all would be equally parched. It was necessary to open all doors and windows in the kitchen during the parching process to allow the great volume of smoke to escape. A stout heart and an even stouter pair of lungs was required to perform the operation of stirring the beans.

After the parched coffee had cooled, we used to grind the beans. The coffee grinder was a square wooden box with a small drawer at the bottom and the grinding apparatus on top.

Meat and fresh vegetables were purchased every day or two. Aunt Fiene was in charge of procuring current items.


"CLEMENS BERNARD WORK BE COWBOY WHEN GET BIG"

This prophetic inscription was penciled in capital letters on the wall paper. It met with strong disapproval from the adult members of the family. As far as I can remember, this was the only time that any of us dared to write on a wall.


Clemens was very fond of milk chocolate, and was inclined to eat more of it than his elders believed was good for him. The restraint placed upon him seemed only to increase his longing, with the result that he usually begged for an extra portion of chocolate.

On one occasion, when his repeated requests strained the patience of his elders, he was told not to ask for chocolate any more.

"Alright!" he declaimed excitedly, "this is what I am going to do: When I get big, I am going to buy all the chocolate I want! Then when I come home from my office, I will put my bed-room slippers on, and sit in my wardrobe, and eat as much chocolate as I please! That's what!"

We believed then, and still do, that Clemens meant "bathrobe" instead of wardrobe.


Clemens, Louis and I were seated underneath Grandpa Groebel's desk, playing with a magnet and a few pieces of metal. Clemens asked me to go upstairs and bring down a metal disk from the first playroom. He told me exactly where it was to be found.

I ran upstairs, but failed to see the object I had been directed to bring down. When I returned and admitted my failure, Clemens seemed extremely vexed. He asked Louis to find the article, but Louis soon returned empty-handed, as I had done.

This seemed to be more than Clemens was able to endure. His face reddened as he looked from one of us to the other.

"Blind gooses NEVER succeed!" he shouted, "I'll get ---"

His words were cut short. He forgot that he was seated under a heavy piece of furniture as he attempted to spring to his feet. His head struck the bottom of the desk drawer with a thud that I still remember. Newton's Law pulled him swiftly back to the floor with a thump that did not sound so well padded.

His flushed face turned ashen, but he uttered not a word. Neither did he again refer to the metal disk.


Clemens, Louis, and I decided to stage a play. The idea for the plot and the notion to dramatize it came about quite by accident. It all began when I pretended that I was a cow. I must have fancied that I really was a cow, because I distinctly remember butting members of the family.

Either to put an end to my inconsiderate actions, or to enlist them for a good use, Clemens and Louis concocted the drama. The plot is no longer clear in my mind after so many years, but as I look back, I doubt that it was clear to any of us at the time.

Roughly, the story concerned a cow who possessed a special talent. She was able to distinguish an honest man from a robber. Quite logically, we called the play "The Mysterious Cow."

Needless to say, I was the cow. Clemens was the robber, and Louis was his victim.

We hung a curtain near one end of the first playroom and arranged chairs for the audience. Next we devised the costumes, and then rehearsed the play.

Clemens, as the robber, made a spectacular stage entrance by jumping into an imaginary room from an imaginary offstage window sill. Louis carried off his role nobly, but I cannot remember anything he said or did. As the Mysterious Cow, I was obliged to enact my part on all fours. I remember going through the rehearsal with great enthusiasm, but unfortunately, since I was no longer used to crawling about on the floor, my knees and the palms of my hands were noticeably inflamed at the end of the run-through.

Our single rehearsal went so well that we decided to present the premiere that evening. We were fully aware that we would probably not be able to duplicate our acting and lines at the performance, but since no script had been written, it made little difference.

The family was advised of the production, and of the conditions under which it was to be presented. Since we were to appear in costume, it would be impossible for us to usher members of the audience to their places or to collect their admission fees. Each person agreed to put two pennies on the mantel before taking a seat.

Finally, curtain time arrived. Papa, Mama, and each of the family paid their admissions and took their seats. The gas light was dimmed a little, and we opened the curtain. There was hearty applause. This was very encouraging. Louis, offstage, announced that the name of the production was "The Mysterious Cow", and the play was ready to begin.

First on stage was Louis. His part did not take more than a minute and a half. After he left the stage, Clemens, the robber, came on. As I have stated, Clemens was supposed to make his entrance by jumping into the room from an offstage window-sill. Carried away by a desire to please the audience, he executed a leap which suggested that he had jumped from the top of a ladder. He not only frightened, the audience, but slipped and had to scramble to his feet. His entrance was poorly received.

"Stop it! Stop it!" cried Papa in a full, oratorical tone. "No jumping in the house! The play is over! Turn up the gas light --- no jumping!"

The play was over, and well did we know it. The audience rose to its feet as the light brightened, and filed out of the room with Papa and Mama in the lead.

Unfortunately, each patron removed two pennies from the mantel on the way out.


The present generation has seen Christmas trees electrically lighted in every possible style, color, and combination of colors that amateur and professional decorators can devise. My generation remembers Christmas tree lighting of an entirely different quality. I use the word "quality" advisedly, because the lighted Christmas trees of my childhood resembled the present ones no more than box-like carriage lanterns resembled automobile headlights.

Most of our Christmas trees stood full twelve feet high with perhaps two hundred dandles providing the only illumination in the expanse of our large double parlor. Although more than twice as tall as most persons, the tree still lacked two feet of touching the ceiling.

Here and there the gold leaf of the picture molding reflected a glint of light from the candles, and curved portions of the black horse-hair upholstery glowed feebly. Each of the twelve glass bowls on the chandeliers captured a brilliant image of the lighted tree in miniature.

On Christmas Eve the entire family would gather near the tree and stand in a semi-circle. No one spoke until Papa had finished an improvised prayer to the Infant Jesus. Then there came a burst of "Merry Christmas!" from each adult throat and from both lungs of each youngster in the room.

In less than half an hour the candles had to be extinguished to avert danger of setting fire to the tree as they burned short. Life was snuffed out of the candles one by one. When nearly all had been extinguished, the chandeliers were lighted and their brilliance was reflected in the glitter of the ornaments on the Christmas tree.

Since the candles were never re-lighted, four buckets of water, which had been placed near the tree, were removed from the room.


A story which Mama continued to brand as a fabrication as late as the middle 1950's is the one about a certain lard-can full of pecans.

We distinctly remember the sequence of details. Upon discovering that there was a lard-can full of pecans in the pantry, we asked Elizabeth to give each of us a few. As it was near dinner time, she told us that she could give us pecans only with Mama's consent. When we asked Mama if we might have some, she refused our request.

We were not discouraged. A day or two later, we asked Mama again. Once more we were refused. Our request was repeated over and over, but never granted. Finally, we forgot about the pecans, and apparently Mama also did.

Several months later; when we were participating in cleaning the pantry, the can of pecans was rediscovered.

We hastened to open it, believing that Mama could not refuse us a few pecans while we were helping to clean the pantry. The lid was stuck, but we finally dislodged it. Alas! What had become of the pecans? What were these unappetizing bluish-green lumps, covered with a fuzz of the same color?

"Where are the pecans?" we asked.

"Those are the pecans," we were told. We could not believe it, because we had never seen spoiled pecans before.

Our hearts were heavy and so was the lard-can as we dragged it from the pantry and out of the house. We felt a little sickened as we thought of all the nutty goodness that had deteriorated into such moldy repulsiveness.

To repeat --- Mama always denied that this ever Happened. We have always wondered why.


There are many reasons why children believe in Santa Claus for a long time. There are other reasons why children begin, little by little, to lose their belief in him. Finally, some incident occurs which erases the last trace of belief in Santa Claus.

For our part, a long, firm belief in him was strengthened by his sudden appearance on many occasions, almost immediately after we had been reprimanded by our elders for misbehavior or disobedience. He used to come at any season of the year. Appearing suddenly, without warning, he always startled us. Somehow, he always knew the details of our misdemeanor. He warned us that Christmas would be a sorry time for us unless we improved our behavior.

"I won't bring no toys," he used to say, "unless yuz are real good boys from now 'till Christmas."

That was always the final sentence before he left. We would watch him walk toward the rear of the house, and we could hear his footsteps on the back gallery. We were afraid to follow him.

On the day that our belief in Santa Claus was Shattered, Aunt Frances, acting upon incomplete information, falsely accused Clemens of misconduct. He protested that he was innocent.

"I think I'll tell Santa Claus to come in here," Aunt Frances said in a thoughtful tone.

"Then tell him!" replied Clemens, "I don't care!"

Frances left the room, and a few minutes later Santa Claus entered. Clemens was playing on the floor with a wooden locomotive that was painted red and yellow. He glanced up at Santa Claus, and continued to play with the toy.

Santa Claus recounted the transgression of which Clemens had been falsely accused. Clemens flatly denied the charge, and continued to play with the locomotive. Santa Claus pressed his charge, and Clemens, with a reddening face, angrily defended his honor.

Finally, Santa Claus went too far. Clemens, harassed beyond endurance, leapt to his feet shouting; "I didn't do it!" He hurled the locomotive straight at Santa Claus' face with all his strength.

Without the customary final warning, Santa Claus turned to leave almost before the locomotive had dropped to the floor. As he made his way along the back gallery, we thought that his footsteps sounded hurried.

A little later, while we were still wondering if he might return with some terrible ultimatum, Frances came into the room. Somehow, her entrance startled us more than Santa Claus' had,

As we looked up at her, our eyes became fixed upon a large, inflamed area on her left cheek. The locomotive had struck Santa Claus on his left cheek. As we looked down at the dislocated cow-catcher of the locomotive, our belief in Santa Claus vanished entirely.


Our pet rooster's name was Petsy. He was very large and very gentle. His beak, as well as his legs and spurs resembled buttered corn. A black and gold eye sparkled below his proudly erect comb. His brownish-red feathers always looked like they had just been polished. The copious black and green tail feathers resembled metallic decor.

He knew his name and came to us when we called him. Hurrying would have ruffled his dignity, so he used to respond to our call with only a slight acceleration in his stately stride.

Petsy was seldom confined to the chicken-yard. He roamed the grounds at will and frequently came into the house. One of my elder brothers or sisters seemed to be bringing him food all day long --- a few grains of corn, a crust of bread, a scrap of fruit, or a bit of green vegetable. The other chickens were fed morning and evening, and had to scratch the ground for extra food.

There were other roosters, but Petsy was probably the rage among the hens. However, I was much too young at the time to know about that.

I was also too young to know why, on a certain day, I insisted upon leaving the table before dinner was over. Attempts to persuade me to remain were fruitless. After I had been helped down from my high chair, I felt ashamed of myself for having been so headstrong. I was holding a part of a banana in one hand and walking about while everyone else was still seated at the table. I felt alone and different from everyone.

The floor under my feet seemed to embarrass me and I sought escape from the surroundings. I announced that I would go out into the yard.

"Alright," said Jeanne, "but you'll be sorry!"

She did not know that I was already sorry, nor could she have known how accurate her prediction was. As I reached the door which led to the gallery, I met Petsy. He looked particularly large to me, and seemed to be blocking my way. His head was as high as my shoulder. I stopped, but Petsy did not. He strode straight up to me, because he saw the banana in my hand. He looked closely at it first with one eye, then turned his head and looked at it with the other eye.

With a single swift peck, he lopped off the part of the banana that protruded from my hand. I was too frightened to move. In a few gulps Petsy had devoured the part of the banana which had fallen to the floor, and he wanted more. As he raised his head I attempted to run back inside, but was petrified.

The polished beak stabbed at the part of the banana still in my hand. I managed to drop it and began to yell: "Petsy! Banana! Banana! Petsy!" --- at least, that was what the family said I yelled.

I do not remember shouting anything articulate. I believe that I simply yelled. But I do remember running back into the dining room through a swimming blur of tears.


If Edgar's and Frank's heavenly crowns are lopsided, it is because of a mommoth pearl they must have earned by their long-suffering at our hands and their patience with us.

Time after time we arranged booby traps in their room. Some of our devices were simple, but others exhibited inventiveness that bordered upon true malice.

On one occasion we removed all the matches from the box on the mantel and substituted others that had already been struck. We disguised them by covering the blackened tip with red candle-wax, carefully molded to resemble the original head.

On this occasion the joke was actually on us, because we did not remember that Edgar used no candle to light the way into his room. Therefore he could not tell whether the matches looked genuine or not until after he had finally lighted the gas with a match from his own pocket.

On another occasion we forced melted tar into the tip of the gas-jet. When the gas was ignited, the tar melted again and not only turned the flame blue, but caused it to change erratically from one outlandish shape to another, with an impatient sputtering.

On still another occasion we unscrewed the tip of the gas-jet and pumped air into the gas pipe with a football pump. Then we tested the behavior of the fixture. Naturally, when the gas key was turned, air that had been pumped into the pipe was forced out and extinguished the match. We were more than satisfied with the results. A dozen matches were blown out before gas returned through the pipe and ignited.

That evening as we vigorously pumped air into the pipe, we wondered what Edgar would do when he discovered that his matches, instead of lighting the gas, would be unable to burn in it.

The next morning we found about three dozen burned matches on the mantel. When we tested the fixture, it worked perfectly. We were able to visualize Edgar as he struck match after match, only to find that the "gas" would not tolerate their flame.

On another occasion we turned our attention to the beds. We removed the spring from one bed and took it out of the room. Then we placed laths across the bed to support the mattress in its original position. We tested it, and found that the laths were not strong enough to support one of us. If Edgar tried to lie upon the bed, he would plummet to the floor.

Then we arranged a device for the other bed. We sewed one electric wire under the sheet and another upon the mattress in such a manner that when anyone lay upon the bed, the contact of the wires caused an electric bell on the wall to ring. When the person on the bed arose, the two wires separated and the bell ceased ringing.

This bell was normally activated by someone in the front part of the house and was intended to be used to summon Edgar or Frank from a distance.

As soon as Edgar left the house the next morning, we rushed upstairs to examine his room. We were elated at the results we had achieved. All of the laths we had put on one bed lay broken on the floor under it. The mattress was not beneath the bed where it had originally fallen, but had been placed on the floor some distance away.

We knew that Edgar had been forced to abandon the bed in which we had installed the electric wires. We wondered how many times he had gone to the front part of the house in response to the ringing of the bell. Evidence that he had tried to lie on the other bed and had fallen through was provided by the broken laths. The fact that the mattress had been dragged from the vicinity of the bed indicated that Edgar must have decided that it was safer to spend the night at some distance from both beds.

Our preparations on one occasion were so elaborate that the simplest way to explain them is to tell what befell Frank as he entered the room:

1. As soon as he opened the door, the contents of a shoe box filled with empty thread spools would cascade down upon his head,

2. When he opened the door a bit more, another box of spools would clatter down into a large metal phonograph horn behind the door.

3. When he opened the door still further, a heavy sack of rags, suspended at the other side of the room near the ceiling would be released. It would swing like a pendulum and sweep across the room into the doorway. We believe that struck him.

4. He would then be confronted by a stuffed dummy. The dummy was placed so that it was not in the arc of the swinging sack.

5. He would find that the gas-jet had been treated with tar.

6. He would find both beds most uncomfortable. We had scattered a large number of spools under the sheets of both beds, and had sewed the sheets to the mattresses in a tufted fashion.

Next morning we examined the room. Spools were strewn about the doorway, both in the room and on the gallery. A few had fallen down into the yard. The phonograph horn was full of spools. Hanging perpendicularly clown, as we expected it would be, was the sack of rags. Standing erect was the dummy.

When we examined the beds, we found that one was still as we had arranged it. The spools under the sheet of the other bed had been laboriously moved toward both sides of the mattress, leaving only a narrow strip down the center free of these nuggets of torture.

How did we acquire these hundreds of empty spools? As the poet had written of our aunts: "One sews up skirts, the other ...."


On the morning of September 15th, 1915, it seemed as though the sun had forgotten to come up. At seven o'clock the sky was still very dark, and strong gusts of wind were blowing the rain in every direction.

Warning of an approaching hurricane had appeared in the newspapers on the previous afternoon. In those days, predictions could not be accurate, as they now are, and the weather bureau was able to do no more than to alert all areas that lay in the possible path of a disturbance.

Clemens telephoned to Father Mc Donnell, vice-president of Jesuits' High school, (College of the Immaculate Conception), and asked him whether or not we should attempt to go to school.

"Can all of you swim?" Father Mc Donnell asked.

"Yes, Father."

"Well even so --- stay home to-day," Father Mc Donnell said.

During the morning the velocity of the wind increased and rain fell incessantly. The telephone was soon out of order and there was no way to communicate with the weather bureau or the newspapers for advice about the storm.

By early afternoon the wind was so strong that the impact of gusts seemed to shake the house. Apprehension grew into real fear as we saw slates and guttering ripped from nearby houses. As a precaution, we thought it would be wise for all of us to remain together in one part of the house rather than to be scattered about. We decided to assemble in the front hall downstairs.

There was a noticeable increase in the wind at about three o'clock. Flying slates, pieces of sheet metal, and small boards struck our house with great force.

A sharp crack and the sound of shattering glass in the parlor caused most of us to jump to our feet. We could not imagine what had caused this frightening noise. Mama appointed Gerard to investigate. As he opened the parlor door, the origin of the crash was evident. A slate, torn from the roof of the church across the street, had been hurled between the shutters of one of the front blinds and had shattered a window pane. The broken slate lay on the floor amid fragments of glass.

We felt a sense of relief at seeing such little damage, although we were concerned about the manner in which wind was swirling about the room through the missing pane. Gerard shut the door after everyone had viewed the room, and comparative calm possessed us for a time.

Relief from tension was short lived. Just before five o'clock the wind rose to a velocity that made the house tremble. As we looked out of the window, we saw branches, large boards, and pieces of stove pipe streaking by almost horizontally. Then a garden hose, like a flying serpent, flashed by and passed out of sight.

At that moment a terrible thud in the parlor seemed to make the floor leap under our feet.

"Plaster!" someone said.

Gerard arose and cautiously opened the parlor door.

A large area of plaster had fallen from the ceiling. Gerard shut the door.

For a moment it seemed as though panic would break out, but we noticed that the wind had subsided a little since its short but terrible outburst a few minutes earlier. It was, however, still blowing at a furious rate.

Unfortunately, poor judgment, the companion of panic, was about to prevail. Someone suggested that we should leave the house before it fell and crushed all of us. Some of the family approved of doing so, and others objected. While the matter was being debated, a few strident gusts of wind swayed opinion in favor of evacuation.

It was decided that the best place for us to go was the residence of Mr. John Gordon, 1123 Philip Street, located just behind our property. His house was much younger than ours, according to Aunt Frances.

Gerard and Clemens were appointed to climb the high board fence at the back of our property and to ask Mr. Gordon if he would allow us to spend the night in his house. We would try not to be in the way, and we were willing to sleep on the floor.

Gerard and Clemens left on their mission. No sooner had they gone, than supporters of the evacuation movement lamented that Gerard and Clemens had been ordered to commit suicide by going out of doors. They were prepared to blame themselves for whatever might happen to the two boys.

"Then are we all going to commit suicide if we leave?" Mama asked,

A heated discussion immediately arose, which not only made us forget the storm for a few minutes, but actually drowned out its noise.

"What a shame! To be fighting at a time like this!" said Jeanne, who was fingering her Rosary.

There was silence for a moment. Before anyone began to speak again, we heard a door close in the rear of the house and hurried footsteps approaching.

When Gerard and Clemens entered the hall, they were a little wet, but exuberant. Mr. Gordon had said that he would be happy to have us come over and spend the night. Gerard and Clemens had removed one of the lower boards from the back fence so that it would be easy for us to pass through it into the Gordon's side yard.

After gathering a few pieces of protective top clothing and a little food, we left our house. Passage across the litter strewn yard into the Gordon residence was windy but uneventful. We spent the night in comparative comfort, thanks to the kindness of the Gordons.

The night passed without incident, but it was not unimportant. It served to begin a friendship with the Gordon family --- a friendship which, unfortunately, later on disintegrated for a time. We always referred to the Gordon family as "the Gordons", but when relations became strained, Aunt Frances alluded to them as "those in the back".

The next morning dawned gray, with almost no wind. The storm was over. We thanked the Gordons and went home.

According to the morning newspaper, the wind had reached a velocity of one hundred and twenty miles an hour about five o'clock on the previous afternoon. The weather bureau's velocimeter registered this frightful speed for several minutes before it was strained into uselessness by the blast.

After breakfast we examined the interior of the house to determine what damage had been done. Everything was exactly as we had left it.

We discovered why plaster had fallen from the parlor ceiling. The gas pipe which led from the front wall of the house to the chandelier had been plaster over without been securely fastened to the ceiling joists. When the chandelier was swung by the wind which entered through the broken pane, the pipe dislodged the plaster.

Going outside, we walked about the grounds, where we found litter, large and small, that had been blown from other houses.

Then we examined the exterior of our house. As we began to make a circuit of the house we were certain that something must have been damaged. The house was completely undisturbed, as though there had been no storm. We could not believe it, so we made another circuit, and looked more closely than before. There was not the slightest damage. The house did not look soaked, as did others nearby. It did not even look wet. At most, it seemed to have been recently washed.

"The roof!" said Clemens.

We understood, and walked about the perimeter of the grounds, so as to have a view of the roof. There were no slates missing or broken. Even the lightning rods were erect, entirely unscathed. Their spears stood ready to defend the house for many more years.

It was now clear to us that we had been guilty or poor judgment in leaving our house. Never had 2233 Magazine Street been in the slightest danger from the storm.

To gain a more general view of the house, we crossed the street to look at it from a distance. I shall never forget its appearance that morning.

Complacent in its strength, it had calmly defied wind and rain. Solid, gray, it had yielded through the years to neither time nor weather. It stood among its lawns and gardens, a tribute to its designer and builder. I believe that I admired it more at that moment than I ever had.

The front door was open now, as were some of the windows, and the house seemed to be welcoming us. We crossed the street and went inside.


December 1958

(Signed), Guy F. Bernard


"POPO"

Frank E. Bernard, 1901

That was her name. As far as my recollection goes, way back to my infancy, I had almost said babyhood, I can see old Popo, dear old Popo. We all loved her. There was no one like her.

When the sandman would come around, Popo would take us up, one after another, and rock us to sleep. I faintly remember every evening opening the dining room door that led into the yard, and crying out in my childish voice: "Popo, Oh Popo, come and make me Noung Noung Noung", meaning to rock me to sleep; and Popo would come, and very soon, yielding to her lullaby, and to her rocking, my little eyelids would close, and I would be ushered into dreamland.

Of what interest can the above be to anyone, and why is it that I write about Popo?

Par two reasons: First, because I loved dear old Popo, and secondly, because Popo, being a slave, I wish to show the relations existing in some cases between master and slave, before the war, and since the war. Next to our dear mother, Popo was all to us. In health, in sickness, in joy, and in sorrow, we all looked to Popo.

When the slaves were emancipated, Popo was told by my father that she was free. She chose to remain with us, and as we say down South, raised all the family. When I got married, Popo nursed all my little ones, although she vowed that her time for nursing children was over.

One day Popo went out with my children, and never came back, that is, alive. She had but crossed the street at our corner, and had to put down my baby girl, which she was carrying, when she gasped for breath, and sank lifeless to the sidewalk. The doctor said it was heart failure. She died where she had always lived --- in the midst of children. She had devoted her life to bringing them up, and it was meet that when the Angel of Death came to take her away, he should have found her with her little ones.

Pone had no family but ours. She said she was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, but more than that she never knew, nor cared to know, for, was she not our Popo?

We laid her out in our little Prayer-Room, like one of us, on the same spot where our father, our brother, and our grandmother had been laid out before, and we felt that she was one of ours.

Brother George and myself carried her remains to the grave. We could do no less, we could do no more. Popo was not black. She was a mulatress of slender and delicate build. She was not pretty, so far as beauty goes, but we never noticed it, our Popo was so good.

One day will come, I hope, when we shall meet again, in that beautiful home, where she has gone to reap the just reward of her devotion and affection for her little children, where there is no master or slave, where she still will be our dear Popo



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