In addition to my father, my sister & I all being born in the same city, we also attended the same Senior High School. Before that he had gone to a Catholic school from grades 1st-8th near his home. After my sister and I came into the picture he wanted to send us to his former parochial school. This didn’t happen since they closed the school in the 1960s. I would’ve loved it my sister not so much.
The church continued to be open and my sister and I attended CCD classes for about 10 years. I went from the ages of 5 to 15. My sister went from the ages of 10-16 and was confirmed. We attended most Saturday Night Mass services with my grandma. My grandpa would go alone to church every Sunday morning at 7 AM because that was his time. My father didn’t join us at church but was very spiritual in his own way.
When we first came to live with our father and grandparents we used to do a lot of things together. We went to the park and had barbeques/picnics, visited Old World Wisconsin & went to the Milwaukee & Racine County zoos. I also have memories of going to a place called Dandelion Park which was a little amusement park where we would have picnics with my father, grandma, sister & my father’s friend Larry. The story of Larry is very interesting. One day I may tell it.
I also recall going to Wisconsin Dells a few times & my father & grandma would always buy me the Native American dolls from one of the shops. I had a lot of those dolls as well as some other trinkets. I especially liked when we (my father, sister & I) went to Manitowoc to visit my grandma Corey who was my mother’s mother. I was 5 or 6 at the time & we would take a greyhound up there to visit her. Sadly, we only got to visit her for about a year until one day she just dropped all contact with us.
The same thing happened with my grandpa Corey who lived five minutes from us in the next suburb over. We saw my grandpa Corey for about a year or so and then he just stopped seeing us. Both of my grandparents Corey never gave a reason to my father about why they did this. So basically the only extended family that I had were my grandparents Côté.
I have no 1st or 2nd cousins since my parents were both only children. We didn’t hang out with any of our other cousins either. My grandpa who was number 5 out of 7 & the only boy, had a sister who he was close to. There were 2 other sisters (numbers 6 & 7) who my grandpa was extremely close to but they lived in other states. This particular sister though who was number 4, lived in the suburb in the next city over with her husband. We would go by their house & would hang out for a bit. We seemed to see them more often than any other relatives until they both started having health issues.
My grandma was born in 1917 & was the youngest of 9. She was very close to one of her sisters who I believe was born in the same year as my grandpa which was 1911. This sister’s birthday was February 9th, mine was February 12th & my grandpa’s was February 19th. I always thought that was pretty neat that our birthdays were all in a row. This aunt would come every so often & exchange Harlequin romance novels (Barbara Cartland) with my grandma.
I remember when my father and I would go the museum downtown. He didn’t like the traffic so we took a bus. When we went to the Chicago Science and Industry Museum we took a greyhound. That was cool! We visited both on a fairly regular basis.
After visiting the museums we sometimes stopped at the neighborhood bar so he could have a beer or 2 and I got whatever I wanted. Me getting whatever I wanted really wasn’t anything new. I loved going to the bar a couple times a year with my father. I loved the smell inside and I liked talking to the different people. I always got free Cokes and snacks from other patrons as well as the bartender.
I remember my father telling me not to tell my grandma that we stopped off at the bar on the way home from the museum. His reason was that she might not be too happy about it. I would never tell my grandma because it was our secret. Afterwards we would walk the few blocks home. When I was an adult I asked her if she knew that we used to go to the bar sometimes after the museum. She laughed and said she always knew and that no one can pull a fast one on her. This was so true.
I should tell you that my father was an alcoholic. Growing up he was a functional alcoholic who went to work every day, paid the bills, made sure we had everything we needed plus more and basically busted his ass for us.
My father raised me not to be prejudiced and judgemental. Those were huge things for him as well as my grandparents. I continue to practice these values today & have imparted this onto to my 3 daughters. I would spend hours with him talking about everything and anything under the sun.
I really got a well rounded education from him and my grandparents. You could say I knew more about things prior to the 1960’s because of him and my grandparents. I had a deep appreciation for older people & things that kids my age for that time did not.
Part 4 to be continued.