Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Story Tellers, Part 3

I'm linking up with A Southern Belle with Northern Roots for Story Tellers.
I am using this weekly feature to transcribe an audio tape that my grandfather recorded in the early 80's. If you are just joining me, click Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up.

This week my grandfathers tape begins with a little background information on his mother, his parents relationship, charity, and what I think is a pretty funny story about a 'licking'. Enjoy!


My grandfather, his sister Bernice, and their mother.
As for my mother… she was born and raised here in Concord. Received a high school education and she told me she worked as a seamstress in various department stores or clothing store in downtown Concord. She was an accomplished pianist and enjoyed playing the piano. She also was a …her favorite past time was card playing and she was also… had a reputation as being a fortune teller with cards and by reading tea leaves. I can recall various people coming to the house, all acquaintances of hers, friends of hers, on weekends or evening and she would tell their fortunes with the cards and I can picture her now in my mind- the people watching her and listening very carefully to what she had to say. She often told me that she done this for her own amusement and to please her friends. She knew and she often told me she had no ability whatsoever to forecast the future, it was just a game to her, but some of the people that came to her took her very seriously. I remember one lady in particular, always came to the house on a Saturday night to have her fortune told. This woman is still alive today and the one thing this woman always wanted to know was who she was going to marry, she always had the desire to marry into a rich situation. But she never married and is still an old maid to this day. She is in her 80’s.

My mother was a very devout catholic. I recall seeing her in my mind now, sitting and reading book after book about the life of the different saints.

I can recall her also sitting in a chair, quietly saying the rosary, which she did every day of her life. She was very fond of children… no matter what neighborhood we lived in. She was always making cookies, some type of pastry, which she passed out to the kids as they came to the house, of course they always knew she was good for a cookie or two. When we lived on Sexton Ave, down by the railroad tracks, the tramps or bums as we use to call them, hobo's, knew they could get a meal at the Bunker house, which sat just above the railroad tracks. It use to make my father mad,, but it wasn’t that bad actually… only sometimes she’d get over enthusiastic about it and there’d be more than 2 or 3 of them on the back step eating bowls of soup and bread. But when we moved away from that section of Concord that ended the hobo (laugh) part of our lives, so to speak. She was a great talker, my mother would talk constantly to anybody, friends, strangers, she loved to converse. Just the opposite of my father who was the silent type and was lucky to get 2 words out of him in the course of the day. Strange pair- but a great pair.

My great aunt Bernice and my father as a child.
As man and wife I recall my father and mother as being you might say two opposites. As I said before, my mother loved to talk and my father didn’t -or possibly was the type that just couldn’t put his thoughts into words. Whatever, he had very little to say, even as close as he and I were we never had that much to say to each other. Just being together….(voice cracks) seemed to be all that we needed, no words were necessary. I enjoyed talking with my mother, up to a point, and use to… I don’t think it bothered my father… the need to listen to her babble on about the various events of the day or books she had read or movies she’d seen, he would just sit there and listen. I can truthfully say I never heard a harsh word spoken between them. My father never failed to kiss my mother good-bye when he went to work. She always was there to prepare his dinner, lunch, I think they had a good relationship, in fact I know they did. He was devoted to her and to her health, which was shaky at times. She wasn’t a strong one, a good cook, but the housework my father took care of most of the hard work, washing the floors or anything of that nature that required any effort he took care of it.

My grandfather and his sister Bernice
As a family growing up my brother Lawrence and my sister Bernice… times when we were children we got along well as a family. There was the usual childish arguments- fights if you want to call them that – they never went beyond the word stage. I recall only getting one licking or thrashing as you want to call it, that occurred was as a result of me sticking a pin into my sister behind one Saturday night as she was taking a bath. And my father chased me around an old shred out in our backyard down on Downing Street until I ran outa breathe and he put it to me good he.. uh… (laughs)… think back now and I deserved every damn whack he gave me. I could have hurt her very badly when I jabbed her with that pin. But I still have to laugh at the sight of her jumping out of the tub (laughs). That was the only licking I can ever recall. Harshest thing he ever done was just to look at me with his look he had and say quietly “you know better than that”. If anything in life I think my father and mother ...what I can recall is the fact they emphasized honesty, not cheating, not stealing, be honest in everything you done. My father neither drank nor smoked, he never criticized those that did, but he himself didn’t drink or smoke.


I hope you join me next week for Part 4 and more funny stories as told by my grandfather. 


  1. Cortney, it is so wonderful to have the opportunity to record your roots. We moved around a lot as children and lost connections with the family. My mother never would talk about herself and my father passed away 7 months before I was born. I am so enjoying your stories.

  2. What a neat story! You are so lucky to have this recorded history of your grandfather. I wish I had something like that, just to hear his voice.

  3. I am amazed at his use of words, he "speaks" very well, clear and tells so many interesting things. I just love that you have this treasure, I wish we all had wonderful tapes to transcribe of our family history. I love most the part where his father would just look at him and say "you know better than that". powerful testimony.
    thanks for hooking up!

  4. I love the part about your great-grandmother reading "tea leaves" and "telling fortunes". She sounded like such a character and your great grand-father was just what she needed to feel grounded. When you wrote about the "pin-pricking"...well all's I could think about was my own brother...sometimes they were such Yet those are the most endearing memories for sure!
    Bumpa use to talk about how he and his brothers use to play "Superman" and jump off their bedroom dressers and beds and a couple of them actually "broke" their arms while trying to "fly". AND I can just see him and Larry, Harry, Jerry and Jackie getting into all kinds of mischief!


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