Saturday, June 20, 2015

This Week Is for Mother--Day Six: Bernice Evangeline Grenfell (1902 - 1980)

Although the Great Depression left Bernice and Harold, like so many others of their generation, with a deep-seated fear of a recurrence someday, the Curreys' already conservative attitude toward money meant that they began the era with no debt, the means to produce a lot of their own food (including seafood because of their boat), and because Harold continued bringing home a paycheck meant that they had cash to spend.

Work continued on the homeplace and during the 1930s they added another three lots to their property bringing the total to about 2-1/2 acres by the end of the decade.

Their boat got some upgrades too.

Bernice's grandmother, left a widow for a second time in 1925, lived alone in her house on 69th Street until sometime in the early 1930s when she moved in with the Curreys who installed her in what had been intended as their living room.* And after Grandma Stanton died in 1935** that room remained a bedroom.

In 1935 the patio got a fireplace (and the first sign of Bernice's new nickname "Min" later expanded to "Minnie"***). Also a new Dodge truck found its place in the new garage, replacing the Pierce Arrow, and it was soon adapted for camping.

Next they built a barn, turning their back two vacant lots into pasture for the cow. (The building in the background was a neighbor's garage.)

In 1938 they built a new house at the back of their next door lot but facing 69th Street, originally intended as a rental, but it became the home of Harold's parents.

Sometime in the late 1930s they sold their boat. After Harold's friend Herb committed suicide, owning a boat didn't seem as much fun. So instead  in 1938 they got themselves one of those trailers that were just beginning to show up on the roads around America. (Note that the trailer has been christened "Minnie IV" in honor of Bernice's hated nickname.)

And they traveled around the west during their vacations, visiting Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Pacific Northwest in the next few years.

And I'm going to leave Mother there, during the happiest times of her life. The story of her life during World War II with the loss of Junior in the last months of that war I'll save for another time.
[Photo taken by Junior probably about 1940, all photos from my personal collection]

Bernice Evangeline Grenfell Currey (1902-1980), the mother who raised me, told me once that she would have like to have been a farm wife. She certainly wasn't afraid of hard work.

I would like to have been her biological daughter.

*Which is why it has a gorgeous cobblestone fireplace on its east wall, something I never understood as a child.
**At the age of 86.
***Mother hated that being called that but it made no difference because that's what Harold insisted on calling her for the rest of her life. The name came, not from the lady mouse as you might expect, but from the wife in the popular comic strip The Gumps.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. We need to get this info to the current owner. I think he'd really get a kick out of it.