The Mom Photo Essay Project On Instagram: Twelve

Mary(Molly) Wilson, my mother's aunt (her father's older sister). Aunt Molly had, perhaps, the most influence, other than my mom's mother. David Wilson, my grandfather, was from a well-to-do Scotch-Protestant family, while my grandmother, Anne Sullivan, was a nice Irish-Catholic girl. Back in the 1920s, such a match was rather shocking. My grandfather died, in 1930, when my mom was 7, leaving my mom and her mother to fend for themselves. During the Depression, times were very tough. My mom & grandmother often lived with one or two of my grandmother's sisters (and their children). Molly Wilson, her sister Margie, and their parents (my great-grandparents) lived in New Jersey. They had worked hard, saved, and, during the Great Depression, they still were able to live in a nice home, buy food and clothing, and even keep the car they owned. Molly & Margie were both school teachers, and, in the terminology of the time, both were spinsters. My mom & grandmother were often struggling to find money for their next meal. My mom got her first job at the age of 7, working in a factory, though the little she made helped, it didn't make too big an impact on their financial situation. Mollie & Margie drove from New Jersey to Rhode Island a few times each year, to pick up my mom, and bring her to stay with them. Mom had to watch for them to pull up outside, as the Wilson sisters would not set foot in my grandmother's home — one simply did not step into an Irish Catholic woman's house. My mom loved her grandparents, and was fond of her Aunt Margie, but Aunt Molly was the ruler of the Wilson home, by force of her personality. She had strict rules, and didn't allow for much fun. They offered to take my mom, to let her live with them in Jersey, so she'd have consistent meals, nice clothes, go to a good school. the catch: she'd have to give up her Catholicism. Going to live in Jersey would also mean she'd be away from her family and cousins (whom she thought of as her brothers and sister). As mom tells it, it was having to give up going to the Catholic church and school that she found so comforting. So she refused. She chose to stay in RI with her family.

A post shared by John Francis Nooney (@john_francis_nooney) on

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