I was born on a Saturday on Academy
Hill, Derby, Connecticut. I am told that "Saturday's Child Must
Work For A Living." I think I have done my share of work. My
parents were both thirty years old when I was born. I was their
first child. My brother, Robert J. Carson, was born in
Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, Connecticut. My very first
recollection is going with my father to see my brother in the
hospital. Years later I described the room to my mother and she
said that I had remembered it correctly. I also remember walking
with my mother as she pushed the baby carriage. There was almost
four years difference between my brother and I so we were not
really companionable as children.
After Bob married, his wife and my
mother had what you might call a very poor rapport and since my
mother lived with us I did not see much of my brother. We were
in Key Colony Beach, Florida at the time and Mary, his wife, did
call us every now and then.
One day after Christmas I flew to
Miami to get a plane for Hartford, but
the Hartford airport was snowed in. I went back home and two
days later flew to Connecticut. My childhood really wasn't
exciting. My dad took us to the circus almost every year. My
mother did not go with us. At that time the Barnum and Bailey
Circus winter quarters were in Bridgeport, the city in which I
was raised. One day either a lion or a tiger got loose, I don't
remember which, and we did not have to go to school. When I was
maybe three or four years old I spent Easter weekend at my
Grandma Tiffany's in Derby, Connecticut. Uncle Roland was not
married at that time and lived home with Grandma and Grandpa.
Easter morning Uncle Roland carried
me out in the yard in my pajamas to an apple tree where the
Easter bunny had left a basket for me. I loved to go to
Grandma's house. She had a well, and in the summer time she
would put food down the well. She did all her cooking on a big
black wood stove. I thought she was the best cook in the world.
She had gas lights with mantles similar to Coleman mantles
today. As a little child I was fascinated with the outhouse. To
a city kid this was really something. Uncle Roland and Aunt
Lilian were married when I was about seven or eight years old. I
remember I had a new white dress, which had lace inserts in it
wedding. My brother and I were cautioned to be very careful and
not spill anything on ourselves. We were real excited and
thrilled when Grandma Tiffany spilled ice cream down the front
of her dress. Aunt Lilian and Uncle Roland moved to New Haven.
Uncle Roland worked for the New York, New Haven and Hartford
Railroad. On weekends I sometimes went to visit them. After
their son, Richard. who is fourteen years younger than I, was
born I would push him in the carriage. Later they moved to
Quincy, Massachusetts, and when I was in High School I went on
the train to visit them. That was a big deal. We attended the
First Baptist Church in Bridgeport most of the time we lived
there. However, at one time my father sang in a quartet at the
Olivet Congregational Church so during that time we went there
to church. My father sang semi-professionally and my mother
graduated from Yale School of Music. I can remember my mother
playing the piano. She and my dad sang together. My father also
belonged to the Manufacturers' Chorus in Bridgeport.
When I was quite young it was apparent that I could not carry a
tune. I imagine I was a great disappointment to my parents in
that respect. Anyway they gave me piano lessons for about three
years. I never really enjoyed playing nor did it help me sing. I
still cannot carry a tune nor can I hear the chord changes. When
I was nine years old I met Judy Larson, who became my best
friend. We still keep in touch. When we were in high school
almost every Saturday afternoon I would walk down to St.
Patrick's Church with Marie. I would sit in the pew while she
went to confession. Then we would walk the long way home so that
we could walk by Marie's "boyfriend's" house. At that time the
Catholic Church was much stricter than it is today. I wanted
Marie to be my maid of honor when I was married, but she could
not be in a wedding ceremony that was not performed by a priest.
My mother was a "WASP," White, Anglo Saxon Protestant, and for
years her beliefs were instilled in me. Looking back I cannot
blame her for her beliefs for she was a product of her time,
just as all of us are products of our time. As time went on,
however, I became more tolerant of race and creed and can truly
say today a person's race, creed or nationality does not
influence how I feel about that person. I always wanted a dog or
a cat, but my mother would not let us have one.
Each Spring the butcher's cat had kittens. At that time we had
meat markets, which sold only meat, and grocery stores, which
did not sell meat. The meat markets had sawdust on the floor.
Each Spring the butcher would give me a kitten and each time I
would have to bring it back. I always said when I had my own
home I would have lots of cats and dogs, which we did have.
Almost every Friday night when I was growing up Dad would take
my mother, brother and me to the movies downtown. There was the
feature picture, a newsreel, a cartoon and some vaudeville acts.
Saturday afternoon when we were in grammar school the kids in
the neighborhood would walk down to the Rialto Theatre.
Admission was a dime. We saw a feature program, a cartoon and a
serial. My folks took my brother and me on many picnics. Mother
would pack a lunch and we would go to Seaside Park or Beardsley
Park. Once in awhile we would go to Putnam Park where we would
play in what we thought were caves. About once a year we would
go to the Bedford Gardens. I do not remember just where they
were located, but were in the Fairfield area. Quite often I
would bring Marie and Bob brought one of
his friends. I remember one particular time. It was a Friday and
at that time Catholics did not eat meat on Friday. Bob's guest
was a little Jewish boy. Mother made ham sandwiches for the
picnic and did not realize what she had done until it was time
to eat. Both the kids ate the ham sandwiches. Both our parents
truly loved both my brother and me. I was a Girl Scout and went
to camp for four years. Camp probably was the most important
thing in my life at that time. Some of us older campers had a
Pioneer Unit. We cooked our own meals, and now I cannot remember
what else we did, but it was a big deal. Scouting did a lot to
broaden my horizons. For a short time
after I was married and not working I worked with a Girl Scout
Troop in Bridgeport.
A number of years later when June
was a Girl Scout she went to the same camp I had attended, Camp
Trefoil. One of the big events of my childhood was our trip to
Buffalo to see my mother's brother, Ernest Meyers and his wife,
Ruth, and their children, Betty and Dorothy. It was a trip of
four hundred miles. On our way to Buffalo we stopped at
Schenectady, N. Y. to see my mother's aunt, Jennie Meyers. Her
husband and my mother's father were brothers.
I don't remember much about our visit in Buffalo, but we did see
Niagara Falls. On the way home we spent one night in Rochester,
N. Y. Two hundred miles a day was a good distance. When I was
growing up, my mother's Aunt Annie Meyers visited us often. Aunt
Annie never married. She would read to my brother and me. She
also would play games with us. We called her ''Nannie"
which was a contraction of Aunt Annie. She lived in New
Haven and shared an apartment with a Mrs. Adams. Both ladies had
their own bedrooms and sitting rooms, but shared the kitchen.
Each cooked her own meals.
After the stock market crash in 1929
the country settled into "The Great Depression." At that time
there was no unemployment compensation. There were many
suicides. Men would stop at the house and ask for food. My
father would always prepare them a sandwich, a piece of cake or
pie and something to drink. As I remember this would happen
about once a week. When I was in high school I went to a
settlement house in the poorer section of the city once a week.
I supervised children's games for a couple of hours. The poverty
under which these children lived impressed and bothered me. It
was my first exposure to real poverty. During my high school
years I spent several weekends at my Aunt Jill's. She had a
friend who had a daughter my age, and we went roller skating on
a Saturday night. This was Dorothy Ruth, who later would become
one of my closest friends. Our
Senior trip in high school was to West Point. It was a day trip.
The only thing I remember in any detail is that Marie, who was
supposed to wear her glasses all the time, put the glasses in
her purse and sat on them. They broke. After graduating from
Central High School in Bridgeport I went to Booth and Baylis
Business School also in Bridgeport. After graduating from there
I found a job in the office of Mountain Grove Cemetery of all
places. At that time we were most fortunate to find work of any
kind. Both P.T. Barnum, the circus man, and Tom Thumb, the
midget, were buried there. However, after I was married I was
fired, for married women were not expected to work in those
days. During the Presidential campaign of 1936, Franklin D.
Roosevelt came to Bridgeport.
There was a big parade in his honor. You must remember that we
did not have television at that time and to see a real live
president was a big thrill, even if he was not the man one
wanted to be elected, or re-elected. After high school when I
was working I used to go evenings to the Bassick Junior High
School gym to an exercise class. My favorite thing was trying to
do tricks on the "horse." Also, at this time I played quite a
bit of tennis. I never was very good but had a lot of fun. May
3, 1935, my father died of lung cancer at the age of
forty-eight. At this time my brother went to live with my dad's
sister, Terri, and her husband Jeremy. He stayed with Aunt Jill
and for about a year, as I remember it. For a period of time he
also lived at Grandma Tiffany's. He also was at a C.C.C. camp,
for we were deep into the depression and there was no work.
About a month after my Dad died, friends of my mother's invited
her and me to spend a weekend with them in Ansonia. I really did
not want to go. but those days were different from today's days.
At that time I would not think of not doing what my mother
wanted. even though I was eighteen years old, so our friends
came down to Bridgeport and took us to Ansonia. We did not have
a car. While we were visiting Mr. Moore, our host, said that he
would like us to see some iris. I was thoroughly disgusted. Who
wanted to see iris?
To go back a few years my brother
went to a Boy Scout Camp in Derby. My dad and I went to see
him and met Bill at that time. After
we left, Bill asked Bob if I had a
boyfriend and Bob said "yes" so he never pursued the friendship.
When we went to see the iris, we both remembered having met
before and the next Saturday night he came to see me.
To cut a long story short, we got married
subsequently and then life did become exciting. We spent
our honeymoon in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We rented
a little cabin complete with fireplace in which we built a fire
each evening. Cabins were the forerunners of motels. Each cabin
was a unit by itself. We spent a week there and needless to say
we had a wonderful time.