Oldest Son; Great Responsibility

Uncle Larry was Grandma’s oldest brother—7 ½ years old when she was born. I think, like my two brothers who are 8 and 10 years younger than me, the age difference may be a reason why we were not as close to his family. It’s too bad, since his was a family of five girls.

As the oldest son, he was a big help to my grandparents during the very difficult years of the Great Depression. After finishing grammar school, he worked at a local drug store, earning $4.50 for a fifty-four hour work week. He gave my grandmother four dollars and kept the remaining fifty cents for himself. While that seems like an insignificant amount today, Uncle Larry’s earnings were the equivalent of nearly seventy dollars today and helped make ends meet.

Still, he was just a fourteen year old kid earning just 8 cents an hour. ($1.39 in 2015 dollars) Think about that when you feel you are being underpaid and underappreciated! It was a proud accomplishment that he was able to graduate high school on time despite those long hours. He worked after school until 11 pm and every other Sunday from 9 am until 11 pm. There was no time for fun.

Back then, it was common for drug stores to have soda fountains, so one of us siblings would bring him dinner, and he would make them an ice cream soda. He met Aunt Tess during freshman year in high school, and they “went steady” during those four years—according to Aunt Marian. When he returned from Europe after the end of World War II, they got married.

What I remember most about going to their house was playing school in their basement. They had actual desks from a school (maybe gotten during a renovation), and I just thought it was the best place to pretend to be a teacher. His daughter Rosemary was one of the cousins who dressed up as a nun.

Aunt Tess must have been a real drill sergeant with those girls, because their house was always so clean and orderly. I wonder how she did it.

Uncle Larry worked at his father-in-law’s liquor store down on the flats not far from the high school and across the street from the place Uncle Rich lived briefly (where Aunt Lorraine hid the candy in the washer.) We would occasionally drop by the store on our way home from summer school and he would allow us to go behind the counter. I thought this was so cool!

He died in 1997 at the age of only seventy-six, which is another reason you don’t know him. Like his oldest daughter Lois, who passed away three years earlier at the age of forty-six, he left us too soon.

Since you all live in three different states, you will have to work very hard to stay close. It is not easy when you have the distance, but it is so important. Technology helps span the miles, so please try.

Uncle Larry, Uncle Rich; Uncle Bob, Uncle Don

Uncle Larry, Uncle Rich;        Uncle Bob, Uncle Don

Aunt Tess and Uncle Larry

Aunt Tess and Uncle Larry

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