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Ronald Frederick Doucette
Edward Izard Doucette
Aimee Elva Doucette Rodak
Robert Leonard Doucette
Eleonora Louise Doucette Turnage
Edith Gertrude Doucette Raun
This is an interesting subject when you realize that not only I, but all six or my brothers and sisters will be creating a similar treatise, from their independent view, describing how each of us remember our parents, Aime Henri and Edith Louise Doucette.
A tribute, among other definitions, is "something that bespeaks the worth virtue or effectiveness of the one in question". It is a formal expression of praise, as provided from yet another source.
In this, the centennial year of the birth of both of our parents, we can all reflect on the time that each of us were privileged to share with our parents, during the twentieth century. I was fortunate enough to have been the firstborn, in 1925. 1 say 'fortunate' because there is little doubt, reflecting upon the memorabilia, created, saved and collected by our mother, that she had more lime to devote to being a doting mother than she would ever have in her future years of parenting.
The albums that mother carefully assembled from cards, photographs, clippings and child generated artwork, which have been passed down to me, create for me a treasured walk in the past with Mom. In fact, there were times when these same albums were utilized by her to share her memories with me as she turned each page and explained the circumstance of the occasion or some comment upon my activity or demeanor, at or near the time the memento was created.
We all knew that we were being well taken care of by a mother who knew what she was doing and was proud of her station in life, but it took the many years that followed, including the rearing of my own daughters, for me to appreciate the true value of the years and years of sacrifice and untiring effort that she invested in us, her children, times seven.
There were many times when I was emotionally shaken to find Mom in tears or sobbing over some matter that she chose not to share, but would quickly recover with a smile and get on with her day. Thus I know that her regimen of housework, child bearing and care, as well as maintaining a healthy, happy, well-fed and properly clothed family of seven children and a husband, was not all a bed of roses. She was a tower of strength, a formidable source of propriety, discipline, and a keeper of the peace.
Mom, as all who knew her could testify, had a infectious laugh. It was always sincere and appropriate, and made all in her presence happy with her, sharing her appreciation and joy of the occasion. She made others happy just to be close, enjoying moments and memories.
Her work ethic was simple, "just do it and get it done, and she was busy all day, every day, with all the household chores that needed to be accomplished. As we children became old enough to help, we were patiently trained and put to work with our own chores. I am certain that the increased chores that we kids were assigned as we grew up in no way compensated for the number and time consumed by the increased chores that Mother assumed with each additional child. We weren't always anxious to accomplish our "duties", but we learned early on that the sooner you did your work, the sooner you could do whatever it might be that you would prefer to do.
We were still in the "White" house when I can recall having my first really significant and routine job, probably at age seven or eight. I was to scrub the kitchen and dining-room floors each week, with a scrub bucket and brush, rinse water and a drying cloth. Mother kept a watchful eye, but insisted that I do it the way it should be done, without continuous guidance. That was the technique that she used when teaching us how to take on our share of responsibility. Our list of jobs increased with our ability to accomplish then and we grew up learning how to cope under her care
A tribute to Mother would be forever incomplete if I failed to mention, in some detail, the frightful experience in the spring of 1932, a story often told, but it reflects the definition of a most caring mother under significant strain.
Early in the day, I was across the street with Ronnie and Sonny Salee playing. I had brought a golf club, a five iron, to play with. An errant and carelessly executed swing of the club hit Ronnie just over the right eye, laying open a severe wound. Mother quickly took Ronnie to the clinic, a few stitches, an immense headache and a very scared older brother. Mother was rocking five year old Ronnie in her chair when in the early afternoon, calamity struck again. I had, with several playmates, caught some minnows down in the swamp and we decided to build a fire and cook them.
Because the early spring weather had made all available firewood too damp to light, I obtained an open pail of kerosene from our basement tank and someone else found a can of sterno at their house. We lit the combined ingredients and in no time had an explosion and the fire was spreading rapidly in the grass. We all were stomping out the fire when my trouser leg caught fire from being soaked with kerosene when I carried the bucket to the scene.
An older playmate extinguished the flames with his hands, but the damage had been done, third degree burns on the left leg from ankle to knee with the major damage to the back of the knee. Upon arrival home, Mother called both the Clinic and Dad who took me to the doctor. After a lengthy session I was back home and Mother now had two casualties to nurse plus supper to cook.
With the seven year old and five year old safely cared for, young Edward, at three years, immediately after supper, put his wagon on the outside cellar door ramp and put a brick under the wheel to hold the wagon while he embarked. He removed the brick and was launched down the ramp and ran square into a nearby tree, with the result that he ran the tongue of the wagon through his upper lip.
He was dispatched to the clinic for stitches. Mother was beside herself, this many casualties in one day, never before, never since. About eight o'clock, the phone rings and Mother answers. Dr. Ghering calling, and we know he was trying to bring some levity into a bad day, when he stated, "I just remembered that you still have a child at home (one year old Aimee) that I haven't seen today, how long do you think I should keep the Clinic open?" Mother didn't say a single word, she just hung up the phone. She later apologized, as did Dr. Ghering, she wasn't in the mood for levity.
This may have been one the the testiest days of Mother's married life, but she was a true survivor as this and other trying days can be cited in support of her ability to respond to a need or situation, always to be counted on to do the right thing, to make the right comment, to know how to be the most supportive when she was needed, which was frequently, and to know when to bite her tongue and not exacerbate an already tense situation with an ill chosen statement.
The day I left home, at age eighteen, Mother and Mrs. Mary Warner saw me oft on the Greyhound bus which at that time picked up passengers in from of Bud's Barber Shop. This was a very traumatic day for Mother and she needed Mary's steady arm to help her in the moment. It was June 28, 1943, the war was in its second year and the tide had not yet turned in favor of the Allies. It wasn't like I was headed to the front lines, but it was a trying moment for Mother and a difficult growing-up experience for me. As she had on many occasions, she handed me a box lunch of goodies to take with me on the bus. Forever the 'doting and loving mother'.
Aime Henri Doucette, like his father, was a very gifted individual in many ways. Dad was a craftsman like his father and beyond that, a true artist in the sense that he had remarkable vision to see what he wanted to create and then be able to have his hands and his tools create his desire.
He was an educator who gained the respect of hundreds of his students as they passed through his classroom and studio at Edinboro State Teachers College. His gift to each of them was the knowledge that when they were graduated from his classroom, they were the best that they could be at doing what they were there for, to learn the basics and develop artistic techniques that would serve them well as art teachers or in the field of Commercial Art.
Dad did not make excuses nor accept them from anybody. You had to learn and do whatever correctly, or you did it over until you mastered your project. His classroom discipline was extreme and many of his students did not appreciate what they had learned from him until they had long left the campus. But, it is a matter of record that the severest critics among his students would often return to acknowledge that the greatest education that they had experienced at Edinboro was obtained in Dad's classroom.
Dad's attitude in his classroom frequently influenced his conduct at home. He was a strict disciplinarian. He was firm and direct and did not often spank nor raise his voice to accomplish his goals. He was very capable of just looking at you in a way that got the message across effectively.
Dad was an extremely hard worker in each and every task that he undertook. He started his family and his career on the brink of the depression in early twenties. His ability to paint and hang paper in houses about the boro eased the financial burden in the early thirties. He was the best such tradesman in town and in great demand, for he not only did the job reliably and well, he did it quickly and at the least cost.
All this outside work was fit in around a very heavy academic load at the college plus the extra-curricular activities such as faculty advisor for the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity, which he helped establish and theatrical presentations in which the faculty was expected to participate.
Early on in his career at Edinboro, Dad was barely older than his students, starting his teaching career when he was 23. Thus, he became very close friends with his students and shared their varied interests such as hunting, bowling, dancing, golf and a mentor for the basketball team and official scorekeeper.
Dad was a practicing Roman Catholic and established very close ties to the Catholic diocese officials in Erie, bringing Mass to the students at Edinboro, first through car pooling them to church in Cambridge Springs and later by arranging for a priest to come from Erie and say Mass in Dad's art studio. As the Catholic population of Edinboro outgrew his studio capacity, Dad designed and arranged the construction of Our Lady of the Lake Church on Maple Drive in Edinboro, with a congregation now large enough to warrant a full time clergy.
These kinds of selfless acts were his way to carry his share of the freight as a citizen of the boro. He was a volunteer fireman, Captain of his company, usually was first to respond when a fire occurred and was the designated fire truck operator for over twenty years. Dad enjoyed being looked up to and respected, but simultaneously he was the equal of each and every one who knew him. He was as much at ease as President of the Eastern Arts Association, addressing several thousand of its members, as he was comfortable talking to the farmer on the next barstool at the Campbell Hotel. He was a man's man and was turned off by men who weren't. He took pride in his relationship with the college athletes and spurned the student males who were less than men in his opinion, and didn't pretend to hide his prejudice.
Dad, for perhaps many good reasons, did not fulfill his parenting role easily. He wrote no letters to his children away from home, he did not counsel teenage sons/daughters seeking answers to their concerns. He was absent from most, if not all, of my high school performances in operettas, plays, football, and basketball games, and forensic events such as band or orchestra concerts. It was not a big deal for me at the time, for many parents avoided such school activities, but later in life, as I attended similar events for my daughters, I realized what he had missed, and what I had missed, as a result. Conversely, Mother somehow managed to attend most events, despite her homemaker responsibilities and six younger children.
Dad was still a major role model for me. He was often emotionless in situations that should have been filled with concern, yet he was compassionate without outward signs. He hurt Mother's feelings on many, many occasions, most of which he didn't even realize, and Mother sought comfort and solace in her children. Her ability to "roll with the punches" was another characteristic that we kids learned from Mom in our family life, with its ups and downs, fun and heartbreak. Yet it was a wholesome atmosphere for getting started in a world that would demand the most of each of us.
Thanks to Mom and Dad, we have all survived, made major accomplishments in our own right, raised virtually countless children, resolved some monumental problems, succumbed to others, and in retrospect, we all are grateful for a start in the right direction and can look back knowing that our parents were our inspiration and guide.
They can rest, at ease, for a job well done and know they have the loving admiration of their children.
I have tried, desperately, to write a tribute to Mom and Dad, reflecting on those precious times we shared. But I cannot. Not because there were no precious times, there were countless; but because my memory of those times has failed. I can remember very little of my preadult life, and what I do remember is vague and out of focus. Even my most recent activities leave me very quickly, so I can comment only in generalities with regard to my precious parents.
I remember my mother, mostly I guess, for her love and compassion. Her eyes were always so expressive and overflowing with her innermost emotions. In her eyes I saw love, joy, pride, sadness, and in the end, extreme loneliness.
She was always there, always ready to help, to support, to encourage. Mother was a very strong woman. She was a woman who took charge. She was a leader, a doer. That is why, I believe, she is regarded as the matriarch of the Doucette family. She was the foundation upon which we, the family, all built our future. I don't remember when or where I last saw my mother, but I will never forget the look in her eyes as I said my good-byes.
My dad, on the other
hand, was a very different sort, an enigma. He was a man of great talent,
loved and respected by many, and a workaholic, a laborer. He worked
hard, endless hours to support his large family, and made sure that we
were always sheltered and fed. But he never exploited his obvious God-given
talents. He was a laborer, not an entrepreneur. Considering the circumstances
under which Dad arrived in Edinboro, he accomplished much; raising a family
of seven in a hostile small town, and ultimately residing in one of the
more prestigious houses in Edinboro, and then having a State building
named after him. And, he did it all with brute force. I never did have
a chance to say goodbye to my father. We didn't often make "eye" contact.
He was a bit more distant with me, and less emotional. But am very
proud of my father, and boast about him every chance I get.
I am a Doucette, and very, very proud of it.
I have been sitting here, staring at a blank piece of paper. How do I put into words the feelings of love and gratitude for the woman who gave me life? The woman who guided and molded me from birth to adulthood? Many memories come to mind but the one that stands out above all others is that she was always there for us. No matter when we returned home, when we called out "Mom", she always answered. In these days of "latch key" kids, this would be the exception.
There was that bottomless basket of clothes to be ironed yet we always had freshly ironed clothes to wear. Mom also washed and ironed the altar cloths for the church. These could usually be found rolled up tightly in the refrigerator awaiting their turn on the mangle. I can still smell the hot steam that filled the kitchen when the mangle was in use.
It was Mom who managed the family finances. When it was decided that I would attend Villa Maria Academy in Erie PA, Mom managed somehow to find the money for tuition, transportation, uniforms and all the extras that came up. She always got up at 6:00 am to make sure I had breakfast, clean starched collars and cuffs for my uniforms and met my ride on time.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to sit down and think back to our early days in the "House on the Hill". These memories help to make me appreciate what I was given, things that over the years I have taken for granted.
It is so very difficult to put feelings down on paper; feelings of love and gratitude. While I was growing up, Dad was not home very much. With such a large family to support, he taught classes during the day and painted and wall-papered in the evenings and during the summer. It was difficult to make ends meet during the depression and over the years leading up to WW II but we always had food on the table and decent clothes to wear.
As a young girl, I do not remember ever being reprimanded by my father (the boys may have a different story to tell) but his presence was felt and I always had a great deal of love and respect for him.
I really got to know Dad after we moved to the "House on the Hill" in 1960 and Dad and Mom spent their summers with us. Dad and I used to sit over coffee in the mornings and talk for hours. It was during one of these discussions that Dad asked if I would be interested in going to college. He knew that I loved to read and asked if I might consider a career as a librarian. I said that I would think about it and without telling me, he met with a few key people on campus and pulled a few strings and I found myself enrolled for the fall semester. Besides my marriage and my children, that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I am very grateful to Dad for seeing a potential in me that I did not know existed. It certainly changed my life and how I felt about myself.
As difficult as it has been to search through memories and to write down my feelings of gratitude, it has been a very moving experience.
As the fourth son and fifth child of this astonishing couple, I may have a slightly different view point than my siblings.
I feel very strongly that I am what they gave me, at birth and in life. Look at us, we are all still living and over 60. We are reasonably well and have prospered. Each of us in our own way have developed our minds and talents. We were fortunate God selected us to be their children.
Mother gave us life and although we challenged her she provided us with love and attention. At my point of arrival, she was very pressed for time and strength to keep food on the table and clean sheets on the beds, but she did it. Even with the depression and a very large home, she kept the family clean, well fed and healthy. The garden and all the canning took a great deal of time and considerable effort. We all did our bit to help but she orchestrated the whole operation from her row of beans, corn, the kitchen window or while hanging the 60 to 80 feet of basically hand-done laundry.
Talk about demonstrating a work ethic of cooperative effort and taking pride in accomplishing even the most basic job. Mom used to sit on the side porch with a glass of ice coffee, after we had worked on the yard or garden and impart to each of us in turn her pride in us and the job we'd just finished. Her statement that made me happy then and does even to this day is, "There, doesn't that look nice."
This lesson in personal pride and satisfaction has served me all my life, and is something I've tried to pass on to my children. Nothing can equal or bring better memories of Mother than wanting to share my accomplishments with her, by looking up and hear her say, "There, doesn't that look nice."
As a small child I didn't get much of a chance to be with Dad. He was, as I remember, always working at the College or one of his jobs. One of my first lessons came when the kitchen was expanded and the upstairs of the back of the house was finished. Dad was painting the doors of the new cabinets and asked me to help. With encouragement and direction from him and his patience, I learned a trade that has served me well and helped to feed my family.
As I type this I am reminded of watching Dad when he was typing up in "his office" - the closet of their bedroom. Thinking at that time I'll never be able to do that, well, with spell check I'm not too bad. Boy, could he spell!
My father the Professor; this is the man I most admired and emulate. I have one of his students from years back hear my voice and ask if I was one of Aime Doucette's sons was really nice.
The final two years at Edinboro and in particular the last summer, when I had Dad for all my classes, I really got to know, love, and respect this wonderful teacher, mentor, and Father.
Thank you both with love.
Mother was an extraordinary woman. Everyone that knew her would agree with that. She touched so many lives in her 85 years. Though each of us children have memories of her that are similar, they are also unique. She loved us all equally and unconditionally. How many times have we heard her say, "My children are my life."
She never played favorites and her disciplinary methods were fair and final. We have all served our "time out", the youngest of us on the high brown chair by the dining-room window. I would amuse myself by looking through the bubbles in the glass of the windowpane until my time was up.
As a young girl, I can remember her breath smelling of sweet coffee with cream, and her hands of clorox. She always used clorox in her wash water, using those two stone tubs in the basement with her wringer washing machine, then carrying those heavy, wet clothes up the cellar steps, across the kitchen, through the dining room, and out the side door, to her yards and yards of clothesline which she stretched from the porch, to one maple tree, back to the corner of the house and to the other maple tree. She would fill her apron pockets with clothes pins, and hang the clothes, filling every space of line several times over during the day. Think of the tons of wet laundry she carried up those steps over the years. She was a wonder. Remember the curtain stretchers that she had? It always amazed me how fast she could stretch a pair of curtains and rarely prick her fingers. Then she would always warn us to stay away from the stretcher so we wouldn't get hurt on the sharp nails.
Every spring, Edie and I would go to the meadow behind our house to gather spring flowers We would come into the house with our hands filled with purple and dog-toothed violets, primrose, and buttercups. Mother would lovingly take these gifts of spring and put them in a glass of water and set them on the kitchen windowsill so that "she could enjoy them while she did the dishes."
Our dresses, made by her hands, were always starched and ironed. She could take a flour sack and make a complete outfit in one day. Usually, whatever was made for Aimee, Edith and I would have a matching dress or blouse. Nothing ever went to waste. The scraps of cloth would eventually be sewn together and made into a braided rug or quilt. She made all my roller skating outfits which I wore with pride. In the evening:, she would sit in her chair but always had her sewing basket next to her with socks to darn or buttons to sew on. I don't remember her ever being idle.
Saturday mornings were always the time to clean the house we had our jobs to do. Mother included, and with team work, most of the time it was all done by noon. Usually we girls did the dusting and dry mopping. It was a big house and it took all of us to complete the job. When Mother had college students living in our home, she changed and washed sheets for twenty-one beds every week.
Dinner was always at 6:00 and the whole family was at the table for this meal. This was one thing Dad insisted on and we were not to be late. Mother was magic in the kitchen. She was famous for her cinnamon rolls and donuts. Her apple fritters were devine and her pie crust melted in your mouth. She could whip up a cake as fast as we could eat it - which was usually at one meal.
One of my favorite memories is when the college choir would come into our home, the final stop of Christmas caroling. Mother had large pots of hot chocolate and mountains of donuts ready for the occasion. Singing filled our house, our hearts, and our memories. Even while doing dishes after dinner, we would sing. Sometimes we would sing rounds, sometimes harmonize, but we had a lot of fun and the kitchen was soon tidy and filled with laughter.
Oh, Mom's laugh! Everyone loved her laugh. She was and is still remembered by family and friends for her genuine laugh which always made you "feel good."
The summer garden was a family project. Every evening after dinner we would all go to the garden to weed, hoe, and eventually, harvest. Mother would can vegetables while they were freshly picked. By fall, the upper cellar had shelves of green beans, corn, cauliflower, succotash, relish, tomatoes and more. The popcorn was drying in the garage and we were ready for winter.
Mother loved blueberries and currents. She planted blueberry bushes all along the driveway so that we always had fresh berries in the spring. Every year, on her birthday - July 12, she would have her dish of currents. We always made a point of having these for her as a special treat. Not all of us children acquired a taste for currents, but Mother loved them.
During World War II, when we had an air raid, I can remember sitting on the cedar chest in the upper hall watching and listening to Mother on the two-way radio. It was exciting because the whistle was blowing, the windows were covered, and the only dim light was at the radio. Mom was so serious about this, one of her ways of serving the country.
It amazes me now how she tolerated the buckets of tadpoles we collected from the pond, the wagon loads of "junk" we came home with from the dump, and the string of little sunfish we caught at the dam. She let us enjoy our youth and experience growing up to its fullest.
I remember Mama when:
........ she always had me check her back and shoulders for fallen hair before she would start baking or cooking.
....... when she would "purr" when I scratched her back.
....... when she would recite poems and tell stories during bath and bedtime.
....... when she would
yell up the stairs, "Be quiet and go to sleep up there. I'm not going to
you again," but she would.
....... when she would say, "Stop rough-housing before someone gets hurt."
....... when, in the
winter, she would have a mason jar of chicken fat and camphor warming on
bathroom radiator, ready to smear on our chests and backs, then cover them with soft cloths under our homemade flannel pajamas.
....... when she would be at our bedside to comfort us when we woke from a nightmare.
....... when she would rub our legs when we complained of "growing pains".
....... when she would talk to and for Fritz, Buster, Midnight and all the other pets we had.
....... when she would steam her glasses with her breath and clean them with her apron.
....... when she taught us our prayers and said them with us at bedtime.
Remember this one?
"God bless Dad, God bless Mom, God bless all my brothers and sisters. God bless all the men and women in the war and let them come home safely."
It still is my final prayer at night.
....... when she taught us to make "dolls" out of hollyhocks and toothpicks.
....... when she taught
us how to make jelly and jam out of the wild strawberries, blackberries,
elderberries we would pick in the back ten acres.
....... when she could always find a new place to hide my Easter basket.
....... when she made
us take turns licking the "dasher" when making homemade ice cream, or
the bowl, spoon, or beaters while making a cake.
....... when she would put her hand on our knee if we were fidgeting in church.
Mother taught us to respect others, never judge anyone, play fair and treat others the way we would like to be treated. I think these were qualities she grew up with and she passed them on to us children.
Dad was a hardworking man of many talents. As a perfectionist, his abilities ranged from making intricate jewelry to wallpapering and painting houses. His leather crafts kept us all in tooled leather belts, wallets, and purses. Everything he did, was flawless and professional.
I used to sit on the stairs and watch Dad prepare paper to be hung in a room of the house on the table he had set up in the lower front hall. He would roll out wallpaper on his board set on sawhorses and cut sheet after sheet, brush on the paste, fold the sheet in thirds, trim the edges, and hang it in the room. The next sheet was hung with perfect matching patterns. He was quick but precise and soon the room was covered with new paper with not a bubble in it. I can still smell the paste in the room of moist paper when he finished.
Our home was filled with his art; stained glass, pictures and frames, jewelry, copper ashtrays, wrought-iron curtain rods and more.
I don't remember Dad ever raising his voice to any of us. One time he did give my brother Bob a swat on the behind but Dad got the worst of that deal. Bob had his back pocket filled with lead soldiers and Dad's hand swelled up from the impact. I don't think he ever struck any of us ever again.
Dad did get upset with me one time when I was about six years old. Every fall we would rake all the maple leaves down the front lawn to the ditch at the foot of the hill. Here we would bum the leaves under Dad's supervision. He told us girls to stay away from the fire but I wanted to burn the leaves too. So, I took some burning embers to a little pile of leaves I had set at the foot of the big maple tree at the foot of the driveway. I had a pretty good little fire going when we were called in to go to bed. By the next morning, the fire had burned a large hole in the bottom of the tree, which Dad had to cut down. He was upset about loosing this very large tree more than the fact that I had started it. He realized that I was too young to understand what I had done. I was given the lecture about what fire can do and he made sure that I had learned "my lesson" as he called it.
I also don't remember sitting on Dad's lap or receiving "hugs and kisses" from him. But I never doubted his love for me and the family. He worked several jobs at one time to take care of us. With the summer garden and canned vegetables, we had enough to eat. With hand-me-downs and Mother's ability to sew, we always had clothes to wear. The family was very thrifty and took care of what we had.
In the winter time, we would use the driveway as the beginning of a very long sled ride which ended at the creek in front of the house. Everyone in the neighborhood would come to Doucette hill to ride their sleds. By the time Dad came home, the snow was packed so hard on the driveway, he had a hard time making it to the top. He would start at the bridge and make a beeline up the hill. Many times we would hear the tires squealing on the snow and he would have to back down and try again, sometimes resulting on leaving the car parked at the foot of the driveway.
It was Dad's unpleasant task of "painting our throats" with Argyrol when we had tonsillitis. He would take the special stick, roll cotton on the end and have our throats painted in an instant. I'm know that we gagged and grimaced but he never got upset nor did he show any sympathy either.
Dad had a favorite chair in the living room that was "his chair". It was an upholstered rocking chair and we used to like to sit in it when he wasn't home. But, as soon as we heard his car come up the driveway, we got out of it fast....not out of fear but out of respect.
His brand of cigarettes were Camels but I truly liked it when he smoked his pipe. Every evening, he would light up one of his many pipes with a special blend of tobacco that filled the house with an aroma that was soothing and comforting. It was kind of a special way of ending the day and all was well with the Doucettes in the "house on the hill".
We all remember Dad's sneeze. It would be so loud, you could hear it all over the house. The first one was so startling, it would make you jump. It was always followed with a few more, but you could brace yourself for those. I think he was allergic to coffee, because he would always sneeze after the first few sips in the morning.
Remember the long strands of hair that Dad would comb over his bald head? The way they would stand up in the wind always brought a laugh, even from him. After they moved to Florida, he had his hair cut short and the long hairs were history.
And then there was Hero, our dog, that would race Dad to his building on campus and always be at the door when Dad got there, spend the day with him, and then race him back home and be waiting on the back porch when Dad drove up.
Dad was a soft-spoken man but had a demanding tone in his voice. As one of my professors in college, I realized he had complete attention of his students. He was very firm but fair. He demanded and got respect as well as excellent work from his students.
Graduation from college was a very special day for me. I graduated in 1957 with a degree in Art Education when Dad was head of the Art Department. He bestowed the degree of Bachelor of Science on me by placing the hood over my head. He told me later that he didn't know whether to shake my hand or kiss me. He did both.
Dad loved fresh mushrooms. He taught us how to distinguish the edible mushrooms from the poisonous ones. We would gather mushrooms and "puffballs" from Zessinger's pasture across the road. We would also cut fresh dandelion leaves for his salad. Sometimes he would finish his meal with a cold boiled potato with vinegar, a favorite dish of his father, Edouard Doucet.
Dad couldn't eat onions. He always said, "I like them, but they just don't like me." When we prepared a salad, we always took out his portion before we added onions. Dad "rattled" when he walked because he always carried a container of Tums in his pocket.
At Dad's insistence, we were all at the table for the evening meal at 6:00. The plates were stacked in his place with all the food in front of him. After Grace, Dad would sharpen his carving knife, then serve each of us a plate of food, starting with the youngest, his plate was the last to be filled. We had to eat all the food on our plate before we could go back for seconds. But, he had to get at least "one bite of food" before he would serve second helpings.
After dinner, we would
talk about our day and other important topics. It was at this time we would
ask Dad to recite a poem in French that delighted us children. Dad's
eyes showed that he enjoyed doing this for the family because he knew we
loved it. He would smile and say,
Si tu m'aimes,
Si tu ne m'aimes pas, dis le
Ne me laisse pas assis sur un mur fret, fret.
Si tu m'aimes et ne peux pas le dire, serre moi la main
Dad had a respectful
place in the community and the college. After his retirement from teaching,
the college acknowledged his dedication to Edinboro University
and the thousands of students he taught in his thirty-eight
years, by naming a new art building for him. We are all very proud of his
accomplishments and this landmark in his honor- a true legacy of this fine
and honorable man.
The years really go by fast when you grow older. You begin to think about the past, and as you have children of your own, you realize just what your parents went through to raise a family. When you are small, you don't give much thought to having dinner on the table, clean clothes, and a clean warm house to sleep in at night.
Dad either went to work in a suit, a clean white starched shirt and tie, or old paint clothes. He must have been hot and tired more than I realized at the time. I remember when Dad sat down to watch TV and read the paper or a good book, he would have a dish of cashew nuts and a beer by his chair and a white handkerchief to clean his glasses, with the smell of a good pipe or his cigarettes close at hand.
Mom worked so hard in the house and she loved her flowers. She baked the best pies and biscuits. Her meals were the very best. She was the best all around cook.
She made a lot of my school clothes, and all of my prom dresses. She loved to sing and whistle to the music on the radio. She enjoyed the game shows on TV and had a wonderful laugh that made us smile. I remember when we completed the stone walk in the backyard, we would have a lunch of peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches and a dish of vanilla ice cream.
Growing up in the house
on the hill was so much fun playing hide-and-seek, annie annie over
the garage, climbing trees, swinging on the swing from the old weeping willow tree, and playing in the sand box. I remember picking wild strawberries and Mom worked very hard cleaning the small berries to make her wonderful shortcake. It was a great childhood and I thank Mom and Dad for giving me the very best they could.
I will love them forever.