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  • I grew up in a house with 8 Sisters, Mother, Father, Grandmother and Grandfather Hager, and of course, Aunt Margaret, Mother’s sister who never married. I was the 4th child, and the only boy in the family.

    I don’t remember exactly the timing of things in my youngest years. My first memory of bedtime was sleeping in a double bed with Joan (next younger sister) in the large, front 3rd floor attic room. Frances and Aunt Marg slept in a double bed across from us. Lal and Peg slept in a third double bed and Ruth was in an iron youth bed, which had high sides.

    Later, Peg was promoted. She got her own room – the front room, 2nd Floor, the “sitting room” it had been called. It was the room next to the Library. It became “Peg’s room”. Ruth moved into a double bed and Pat took over the attic youth bed. I’m confused whether it was Ruth or Pat, probably Pat, who used to stand in the youth bed endlessly singing, “Bobby Shafto’s gone to sea, Silver buckels on his knee…”

    The baby of the family always was in Mother and Dad’s room, in the “spool” bed. (Fran made a sofa of that bed for her Sun Room and it is great to see it and refresh old memories, when we visit her.)

    As a little guy, I remember waking at night and being frightened. Perhaps I had dreamed there were burglars on the garage roof out back or some other equally frightening nightmare. Aunt Marg would be there to comfort me, to reassure me everything was all right.

    We’d get ready for bed on the 2nd floor, in the library, leaving our things nicely stacked by the sofa. Then we’d troop up to bed. Often Mother would come up and read to us, stories from the Ave Maria magazine. I remember vividly my mellow feeling of love for Mother as I sat in bed and listened to her read. She looked so beautiful; she loved us so much. I still remember some of those stories. Usually they taught a lesson about good or safe conduct in life. If Dad was out of town and had written a letter, Mother might read it for us.

    Sometimes, after Mother went downstairs, Aunt Margaret not having yet come to bed, we just could’t settle down. Yes, we were angels, but even angels have trouble settling down in a dormitory. We’d be talking and laughing, whatever. Mother might call up several times for us to be quiet. Dad would probably be out of town, or out singing, or something. Finally, if we didn’t settle, Grandpa would call for us to “Settle Down Up There!” That always did it! One did not disobey Grandpa. He did not give an order very often, but when he did, we’d obey. He was a man of few words.

    Of course the back room on the 3rd floor was the play room. It was really fun to have a large room, reserved just for toys and play. I have happy memories of playing there with my sisters, with their toys and with my own. We had a very large play house which Grandfather Bridgeman had made. Unless there was a very small baby in the house to use it, the smallest baby bed was in the playroom for dolls, marvelous dolls with china heads and eyes that actually moved as the head moved.
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