Continuing Saga #1

I don’t quite understand why it has been so difficult for me to get started on this blog — part of it is that I don’t feel knowledgeable enough about any one topic to pontificate about it — my everyday activities seem to be too mundane to support much discussion — so I’ll keep trying if you keep looking —

This is getting a little scary — had an appointment with the cardiologist last week and he said I had had a heart attack sometime between 2014 and 2017 — I think it may have been when John was in the hospital for all that time in 2015 and I was spending everyday at the hospital and coming home and going to bed and then getting up and going back the next morning — the good news is that it’s nothing that needs repairing and John is much, much better —

I think I’ll go back to the idea of the Continuing Saga telling bits and pieces about how I’ve ended up here in Mansfield —

I know it’s common to assign all the blame on how you turned out to your parents, but I honestly think that’s true — it probably all goes back to my maternal grandmother, Ursala Donnelly Shattuck. She was born in Burlington, Vermont, the sixth of seven sisters. Evidently the way it worked was that each sister would be groomed for marriage. Once married off, the attention would turn to the next sister in succession. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out for my grandmother. Only one of the sisters ran off with a man from the circus and had a child and returned home to the shame. All the sisters had received piano lessons (this was apparently a prerequisite for marriage) but by the time it got to my grandmother’s turn, the lessons had stopped (or given up in vain) and the piano was locked. Not to be deterred, my grandmother got a hammer and opened the piano. Not long after that fiasco, she answered an ad in the New York Times for a companion for an elderly lady. She answered the ad, got the job, and left for New York City. The elderly lady lasted for a couple more years and passed. She left a small amount of money to my grandmother, but not enough for her to stay in the city, although this is where her heart stayed. She came back to Burlington and promptly met my grandfather, Eugene Shattuck, who had just graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Civil Engineering. What a catch! My grandfather converted to Catholicism and remained a dedicated Catholic for his whole life. Fortunately for my grandmother, his first job offer was from New York Bell Telephone in New York City! So off they went.

My grandmother evidently had a plan about where they should live in the city. I’m not sure where they started, but apparently she would call my grandfather at work and tell him not to come home where they had lived that morning because they now lived at a different address. Each address was just a little bit better, culminating in an apartment at 676 Riverside Drive on the corner of Riverside Drive and 145th Street. The apartment was on the 10th floor, overlooking the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge (this was before the Martha Washington double span was added).

This is where my mother grew up. I remember her telling me how they would have breakfast in the dining room and when no was looking, she would toss her oatmeal out the window. I often wondered about those poor people down on ground level wondering what sort of bird had caused that chaos.

The most exciting thing I remember when we visited was the rolling electronic news displayed on the New Jersey hillside. That plus roller skating down the hill on 145th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive. You just took your life in your hands making the turn onto Riverside Drive!

Their daughter, my mother, Constance Marie Shattuck, was born in 1908. From what I can understand, my grandmother lived vicariously through my mother. My grandmother’s childhood evidently wasn’t that happy, so she made up for it through my mother. This included walking my mother to and from school through high school (Holy Child Academy).

Apparently, my grandfather’s career was going quite well. Grandmother loved to go back to Burlington in their car with their “Irish girl” maid.  Even though this was all show to impress the family with how well she had “done”. There was an unfortunate experience on one trip when sister #3 (who had run off with the man from the circus and had a little girl named Marion). Seeing how well off my grandmother appeared to be doing, sister #3 asked if she could borrow some money to send Marion to nursing school. Instead of explaining that this was all show and that they actually didn’t have thing extra, my grandmother just said “No.” This self-preserving and self-serving attitude showed up again with my own mother many years later.



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