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  • Many times before the wedding Rosemary had described to me how this or that friend of hers, or someone she had just heard of, had had too much to drink at her wedding, or both members of the new-married couple had had too much to drink at the wedding, and the next morning they did not remember large portions of the first night they spent together. She did not want that to happen to her, or to us. I really knew nothing at all about such things, but I took her word for it that it could happen and that she had charged me to make sure it did not happen to her – to us. As a result, I really spent my time at the reception close to Rosemary, checking on her drinks and attempting to make sure. If you have never tried to be the watchman over someone who has a great thirst, take my word for it – don’t!

    Rosemary really did not mix with the party, but seemed to stick very close to a friend she had talked a lot about but with whom we had spent no time at all in our six months together. This was Jean Staley. This also bothered me. They stuck so close, I felt shut out.

    All things considered, that reception was probably the party I least enjoyed of all parties I ever attended.

    We had agreed ahead of time that we would leave between 5 and 6 o’clock. I was ready! Rosemary was not ready to leave! She finally agreed, but she never really forgave me for tearing her away. Later, as we went through life, I did find that she was always to be the last to leave a party where there was alcohol still being served.

    Ed Jones drove us to Hotel Webster Hall where we were to spend our first night. In the morning we went to Mass and Communion at the Cathedral, had breakfast and took a train to Cleveland. To Cleveland??? That is right! We did not have a car. We had very little money. Cleveland was the closest large town. That was the least expensive trip we could take. And after all, Pete and Helen, Rosemary’s parents, had gone to Cleveland on their honeymoon. They drove and took Pete’s brother, Jack, along with them! At least, we went alone.

    Cleveland in January is cold and windy! We went out of the hotel once in the three days we were there. That was enough.
  • We got back home on Wednesday with barely enough money to get to work for the rest of the week. We lived at my parents’ home until Feb. 1, when the Egans moved into their new house at 6809 McPherson Blvd.

    At the new house, we took over the third floor. We bought a mahogany, pineapple poster bed and chest of drawers from my Aunt Grace Hager, widow of my mother’s brother, George. At the same time we bought several other items, a gate-leg table which Chris now has, the chair I use at my desk, and several other pieces which have long since fallen by the way-side. We “furnished” our third floor apartment with our new possessions. Other than that, it was in deplorable condition. Many layers of wallpaper hung in strips, loosely from the walls. The windows rattled in their frames when the trains went by, a block away, and the dust and soot from trains and an old neighborhood seeped in, too.

    The house had been built about 1860. It had a coal burning furnace. It was now war time and coal was scarce and expensive. There was none in the coal cellar. We could not get immediate delivery of coal. The first day in the house, Pete and I took off work and Michael and Peter, Rosemary’s brothers, took off school. I was the only one with a driver’s license. I rented a truck. We went back to Duffield Street to the old house and hand carried the coal that was left there, from the basement to the ground level, and then to the front of the house, and then down the long flight of stairs to street level, and then up into the truck. We did it with bushel baskets. I’ll never forget that day!

    Another person who would never forget that day was Rosemary’s brother, Pat. He had been in the Service, enlisted in the Navy, but attached to the Marines as a Medic. He had been in the South Pacific operations, but they had heard little from him for many months. They did know he had been wounded and was hospitalized, but not much more. Actually, he had been shot in the leg on the first day of an island invasion, almost lost his leg, had a severe case of malaria fever, and was coming home to his parents’ home on Duffield Street the same day we were carrying coal from Duffield to McPherson Blvd. He came home to an empty house! He had difficulty locating the place they moved to! I’m sure he never forgot that day, either.

    We all worked like dogs to get the house cleaned up, paper removed, walls painted, etc., for a big house-warming party. The first floor, with its 12 foot ceilings, got most of the attention; the second floor was cleaned and spruced up pretty well; the third floor never got a bit of attention. It remained dirty, with its peeling wallpaper – a complete mess. We moved our furniture in and that was all. We all worked on the first two floors.
  • First Picture - typical family party scene, not one of the ones described.

    Second Picutre: Rosemary with sister Flossie, and mother, Helen.

    Third Picture: Rosemary's brother Pat Egan, just home from the war.

    We had bought a radio from Jack and Mamie, a big old cabinet radio that they could not get any reception on, but I was sure it needed not much. We bought it for $25. All it did need was an aerial. I could even bring in London, England! During the housewarming, I brought Uncle Jack Minor up to hear the set and its beautiful music from London. Someone else heard the radio and suddenly the whole party was in our bedroom. We had two chairs and a bed and a lot of dirty floor. But there, the whole party settled! There were many comments about the cozy, fine little apartment we had. Somehow, the good feelings of all the people just overcame the actuality of the room. There was a barrel of beer on the first floor, but no one would go down to refill his/her glasses. The two young boys, Pete and Mike, brought pitchers of beer up to us and that got a bit sloppy, but then what could it hurt? When Helen announced that dinner (Chop Suey) was ready to be served, no one would leave the magic room. Dinner was brought up to us!

    I don’t know how many were on the bed, but since that was the only place besides the floor and our two chairs, there were more than you could count. The bed never has been the same. Everyone talked and laughed, drank and ate, and sang and sang until we were hoarse, all in the midst of the hanging peels of wallpaper, the rattling windows and the cruddy floor. But the magic of the moment made it the best party I have ever attended. The rest of that large old house which we had labored so hard to make ready fro the housewarming simply was deserted all that day and evening, while we crowded into the honeymooners’ room!

    Needless to say, we did subsequently strip the many layers of wallpaper and paint and clean. Yes, and we even puttied up the old leaky windows and had a very presentable apartment, but never again did the party come to it. The magic was gone, that momentary illusion that spreads over a group of people in a given circumstance, like a Peter Pan, Twelfth Night, that a James Barrie or William Shakespeare dreamed up.

    But it certainly is true that one magic never did disappear from my life. The magic of the first time ever I saw her face. August 13, 1944, that was a magical moment that forever changed my life – and all of yours (my children and grandchildren). It will live forever in my mind and my heart. And all of the problems that we encountered in trying to make a beautiful wedding come off well, were but a preview of the life we would have together. And all of the magic of that first party was perhaps a preview of how our lives would settle down ultimately in a serenity and joy we never could have planned for…

    Add this to the stories of the family that you, my children and my grandchildren, may share the past with me.
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