Her father, Ray, and her mother (Grandma Jenny) on their wedding day
This is my mom's grandmother, Lily McLeod. This is Grandma Jenny's mother. My mother loved her to pieces!
Mom was the youngest of four children born to Raymond and Jeanette Blanchard. Her father died when she was just 7 years old, but her mother lived to the age of 105 years 4 months. Mom had a good life, although they were dirt poor during the Depression, but Grandma managed somehow to raise them on her own. She took in washings and did dry cleaning to make money. She also took in a couple of boarders. Plus, Gram had an admirer by the name of Wardie who helped her feed and clothe her children during those rough years. I posted about Grandma and Wardie's love in the previous post, in case you missed it.
Mom at age 7
Mom finished her high school education, graduating with her small class. This was considered quite a feat back in those days, as most children had to quit school to help support their families. The one thing Grandma insisted upon was that her children get an education and graduate from high school.
She grew up with 2 sisters, Naomi and Vivian, and 1 brother, Kenneth. He served during WWII and was stationed at Pearl Harbor on that dreadful day in 1941. The stories he told of that day, you would never believe. There is just one sibling left now, and that is my Aunt Vivian, but we call her Aunt Biddy. She will be 89 next month!
Vivian, Mom, Naomi, Kenny Grandma Jenny
Vivian, Mom, Grandma Jenny, Naomi
Later, my mom and dad married. He was so good to her! She had 2 babies, first a son and then 3 years 4 months later, me. My dad had 4 children by a previous marriage, so those kids lived with us from time to time, too. My parents lived in Buffalo, NY where they both worked for Curtiss Wright, building airplanes during the war. Grandma Jenny lived with them and took care of my brother, Jake.
Mom with her new step-children, Mary, Arlene, Bill, and Jack (in back)
My brother Jake and me
My brother Jake and me a couple years later
The old hotel as it looked undergoing some porch remodeling, but mostly on the interior at the time this photo was taken.
A side view of the hotel as it looks today. This was taken from my mom's driveway.
Mom, age 31
She started keeping hunters and fishermen during the hunting and fishing seasons. That was quite an undertaking for such a young girl with no experience cooking for so many. But she was a hard worker and did quite well. It was hard work for her, as that was back in the days before there were clothes dryers. And at first, she used a wringer washing machine, too. I can remember her hanging all those sheets and blankets and spreads on the lines, and then bringing them in frozen stiff as boards. Dad bought her a new automatic washer and clothes dryer when they became available and also a dishwasher.
When I got older, I helped at mealtimes. I don't know how she did it...getting up at 2:30 each morning to start breakfast preparations. She had a system, and things went like clockwork. She always served homemade cakes and pies for dessert, too. I can remember helping pack sometimes 100 lunches every afternoon! Each lunch consisted of 2 meat sandwiches, 3 cookies, and a piece of fresh fruit, plus we filled their thermos bottles with fresh hot coffee each morning. The daily cleaning and bed making happened after the breakfast mess was all cleaned up and the hunters had all left for the woods. After the morning chores came the dinnertime preparations. 80# of beef roasts, or whatever the meat choice for the day was, went into the ovens. Huge canners of potatoes were prepared. Can after can of vegetables and applesauce or some other fruit were opened. Individual salads were prepared, too. Closer to mealtime, bread was stacked on plates and the gravy made. Mom could make theeee best gravy!!! I forgot to mention the planning and shopping she had to do beforehand!
New Hunting Lodge
This is the place they bought after they sold the old hotel. This home was originally built for Mr. Costello, who the town was named after. He owned the tannery there in town, which at that time was the largest tannery in the world. My parents turned this into a hunting lodge without the tavern and gas pumps, though. The third floor of this home was a huge ballroom. I imagine they held parties and balls there during its prime. The woodworking in this home was something you can only imagine!
Mom was active in her church and received a 50-year membership plate one time. She was a member of the Ladies' Aid, and they raised money through bake sales and ice cream socials to buy the velvet fabric for the altar scarves and other things the church needed. We had a little country church with old weathered wood siding. One year my dad pulled his men out of the stone quarry and gave them the job of painting the church. That paint job was his donation to the church. It looked so beautiful! That church is still standing and in operation today due to the efforts of a few faithful church members. This is where I went to church from the time I was 5 years old. I can remember when there were just 4 adults, the preacher and me at Sunday services. In the wintertime, we'd sit around the pot bellied stove in the back to stay warm. I think I loved going to church at that age just for the singing. I always think of that little church when I hear these song lyrics: "There's a church in the valley in the wildwood, No lovelier church in the vale. No place is so dear to my childhood, as the little brown church in the vale!"
Costello United Methodist Church
Another view of the church
Mom was a good mother to us kids. I can never remember her ever laying a hand on us. She worked in a factory for a couple years one time to get ahead so my dad could start another business. She would catch the work bus at a quarter to 5 every morning and get home around 4:30 every afternoon. Then she would work in the hotel and restaurant in the evenings, get us kids' clothes laid out for school the next day before retiring at around midnight. We always had a home cooked meal every night, too. No TV dinners or pizza....ever! No matter how busy things got, we always ate supper together as a family!
Yes, she worked hard...Dad did, too, very hard. My dad quarried PA blue/green stone out of the mountains. He had to buy a big truck to haul the stone and also a stone cutting machine that cut the stone slabs into veneer stone to be used in the building industry same as brick is used. It was also hand cut into patio stones and also for sidewalks. He had a lovely home custom built with 2 huge fireplaces and stone veneer on the exterior, using his own stone. (His birthday is September 7th, and I'll be doing a post about him then with pics of the stone quarry.)
We had more family fun on this side porch!
Mom did get to enjoy life. She joined Eastern Star and loved it! She served as Worthy Matron one year. This is a photo of her and Dad the night she took office. I had never seen my mom look as beautiful as she did that night! Dad thought so, too! He looked pretty sharp himself!
We kids really lucked out as far as parents go. They gave us kids everything we wanted. Yes, we were spoiled, but then every kid is to an extent when you think about it. Now that I look back, I would rather not had everything but more time with them while growing up. Not that we didn't have a good childhood...we did! We went on vacations across the United States and went to Florida every winter over the Christmas/New Year's holidays...we even attended school in FL one winter. But both of them worked such long hours. Sunday nights were our only family nights, and Mom always made those nights special...homemade chocolate peanut butter fudge while we watched Lassie and The Ed Sullivan Show on TV. Dad would flop on the couch with our boxer dog "Dutchess" beside him while parakeet "Petie" would play on the coffee table with his toys. This little bird could talk up a storm!!! He was just too cute for words!!! My mother spent a lot of time teaching him to talk. This pic taken in the old hotel was dated 1959. Gee, has it been that long???
I keep telling my own kids.....take life a little easier...it's only "stuff" that you spend your money on, and someday that "stuff" won't matter one bit to anyone.
My dad passed away in 1995. I think that's when Mom started to give up. She became dependent on everyone, as Dad had always been there for her. I'm sure it was quite an adjustment for her without him in her life. She was bitter at times, and we all must try to understand how we would've felt had we been in her shoes. We will someday. I love this pic of them together!
Mom had several surgeries during her lifetime...I believe we counted 27 one time! She needed surgery again and that is when she came to live with me. I told her I would take care of her but I was working, and she would have to come to SC. So that's when she came to live with me. She had hopes of returning back to her own home in PA, but that never happened. She had 3 surgeries in 3 months when she lived with me. She was in the hospital for 13 consecutive weeks! She had bowel obstructions, one after another, and it is so hard to see someone you love suffer like she did. She lost over 50 pounds, and with a high-calorie diet, I had just got her up to 111 pounds. Then one day I went to get her for lunch and found her lying on her bedroom floor. She'd had a stroke. The EMTs arrived in 5 minutes, but 4 hours later she was gone. I held her ice cold hand when she left me. She had a history of high blood pressure and heart problems, having had a heart attack in 1986 and coding blue 3 times that night! She was just too weak to survive anything more.
I know she loved us kids, and she gave us a better life than she had. I think that's what all parents strive to do.
I love and miss you! I am thinking of you today. You are finally resting in peace. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Below are some pics of where my mom is resting for eternity. This is where she wanted to be. It was the last wish I could fulfill for her.
Front of Mausoleum