February 23 Every Year

My parents on their wedding day, August 17, 1937

Most February’s I remember this was the month my father passed away it draws my mind to remember what I can about him and about that time in my family, so I am writing down a few salient memories so that I don’t forget

My father passed away exactly 60 years ago on the 23rd of this month. He was born on February 4, 1904, and was the 10th of fourteen children.

For all the time that I knew him, he always had two jobs. A full-time job he worked during the day at the MTA where he was a mechanic and a laborer In the evenings he had a part-time job as a janitor at Dewey and Almy Chemical Company. We didn’t own a car, so he walked to and from both jobs.

I remember my father’s hands, the skin on the front of both hands was tough, thick hard solid calluses. As a young boy, I was amazed by them.

My Dad is the sixth Guy from the right, wearing the hat and smiling

He went into the first job very early in the morning before we got up for school and I remember my mother would get up with him to cook his breakfast and make him lunch.

Later in the day when he came in from working, I can remember that he would lay down on the bed to rest while my mother made him a cup of tea and a bite to eat before going out to the second job. I’m not sure, but I think he only had about an hour at home between jobs

He would get his tea in a cup and saucer. He would tip the cup up to spill some of the hot tea into the saucer to let it cool, and then he would drink it out of the saucer. I think he saw his father do it that way period.

The eight of us lived in a two-bedroom apartment at 137 Dudley Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts at that time.

My oldest sister Ann was just sixteen when dad died, my brother Jim was fifteen, I was ten, and my three younger sisters, Mary, Betty, and Patsi would have been seven, six and five years old.

My mother had not worked outside of the house in years and did not have a driver’s license at the time.

It was a long time ago, so my memory is, of course, foggy of exactly how I felt at that point, but I do remember it was surreal.

For the longest time I remember not believing that he died, I told myself that it was all a terrible mistake and I half expected to see him when I  came home from school one day he would be there, and my mother would be getting his dinner and a cup of tea for him. I don’t think I could absorb the fact that he had died. 

I see a few people here in the community where I live now that still have one or both of their parents with them and I tell them how lucky I think they are. I know there are challenges with aging parents sometimes very significant problems, but what I wouldn’t give to be able to talk to my father and my mother now.

I have so many questions that I would be a big pest.