This is an ongoing series of Monday posts to transcribe an audio cassette tape my Grandmother, Bertha Louise (Roberts) Wilkinson (1897 – 1990), made in the 1970s. She was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, and came to America with her family in 1915 via 1915. She describes her childhood, immigration, and youth in the previous transcriptions of this audio tape. In this last part of the tape Bertha describes her marriage, in Beverly, Massachusetts, and her three sons. The story ends suddenly, as if she just ran out of tape. I’m sure that she would have kept going if the tape allowed, Grammy loved to talk and tell stories!
“I married Don and his people were very nice to us. And when we got married we just had a quiet family wedding. I still kept on working for a while. And of course we were married on a Thanksgiving Day 1926. I think the date was November 25th, 1926. I remember that day was quite hectic but we had the family, and an Episcopalian minister married us. We went to Boston for just a couple of days. My sister stayed with my mother and then I kept on working. Oh, when we went away for our honeymoon Don's sister tried to pull away his suitcase for him. And he kept hanging on to it and he got a black eye from the door banging into his eye. So he had a black eye on our honeymoon and people joked about that but he really didn't feel a bit good. And Don's cousin gave us tickets to see "The Student Prince" and then we went to the "Miracle" while we were in Boston.
So then time went along and I wanted a baby in the worst way and my mother couldn't understand why I would want a baby when she was so sick. But finally I did get pregnant and I kept on working just the same and I worked really longer than I thought because I didn't expect my baby to com until the latter part of January. He came New Year's Day 1927. We were going to a party at Don's aunt's the night before but I landed in the hospital. My baby was the first baby born in Beverly that year. But they didn't do anything about it then. But I saw him born and my doctor... I thought he was ... It was just wonderful. Don saw him born, too. He stayed in the room with me and so when the baby was born he looked just like he had a haircut. He had auburn colored hair. It was so pretty. But he cried an awful lot. I think it perhaps was because of the sadness I had in my home. I tried to keep going and it was sad. Anyway, I loved my baby and we went over to... before he was born I went over to Don's people because I was exhaused and my mother went over to my sister's house and my mother passed away over there. And my baby was six weeks old when my mother died. I took the baby over there to show her the baby and then she was buried from the house on Dearborn Avenue. My baby....
Then I had a pregnancy and I had a miscarriage and then I named my first baby Robert Munroe and my second baby Richard Albert. He was born May the 9th, 1934. He lives in Long Beach California. Then I had my youngest son John Warren Wilkinson. He was born January the 3rd, 1932. No, Richard was born in 32 and Jack was born in 34. January the 3rd.
So I enjoyed my children very much and my husband didn't make too much money and we went through the Depression and of course he worked on short time for quite a while. But, we didn't… we managed and I did some things to help out. We boarded some children for a while. And then I had a young lady live with me for a long time, about eight years. And she was like a daughter or a younger sister. I had a little boy live with me for four years. So I did things to help out. And I did quite a bit of babysitting, too, when the children got older. Then when the children got older I went to work at the General Electric. Because there was a war going on and I had to go in as a matron, and I worked as a matron for a while and then I got transfered down to the sheet metal department. I worked there on the night shift. It wasn't too easy though because I would work from eleven to seven in the morning. I got a ride bck and forth but it wasn't too good for me healthwise and I was sick after a while. I had my veins stripped in my legs and …... they were stripped. And I had to walk as soon as I could after they were stripped. So I went back to work soon after that and my boss let me go to the tool department and do errands for him so I could walk. But my legs have been pretty bad. I had them stripped twice and then...
I will have to tell you about coming to this country… All the things that I have said up to this point were all in this country of course. I became a citizen and married my husband. He was a citizen of this country and had my children and now they went to high school. The high school was very near where we lived. And when my oldest boy graduated, he wanted to get in the service. His eyes were quite bad but he did finally get into the infantry but he got into the paratroopers. Of course, he went to Japan and while he was on the way there they transferred him to the paratroopers medical corps. He was in Japan. The war was over then but really, I think he enjoyed his stay over there in Japan. He should have, he really should have studied to be a doctor because while he was in high school he would go to the hospital as an orderly with another boy. And, but, he didn't want to study hard enough for that. He had a high IQ but he really didn't care too much about being indoors and when he first went to school he used to ask if he could stand near the window 'cause he was outdoors so much before he went there.
Then my second son, he went... After he finished high school he went to Northeastern College for a while. Oh, he went into the service and he was in Japan. But he was in the intelligence and he was in Kyoto, a beautiful place. It used to be the capital city. He would write, send tapes to us about the life over there and we would sent tapes back and he would write. He used to write beautiful letters telling all about the life in Japan. Some of his companions were just helling around with the girls but he wrote these letters and said for me to send his music. He had studied the piano. He started when he was about 8 years old and he wanted his music. They had told him at the hotel in Kyoto that he could play whenever he wanted to. He said he wanted to be as good as the girl he married. He came home, but he wanted, too, before he went to Japan, he and some of his companions thought they would like to go to UCLA. Richard was interested in studying foreign languages so when he came home after a while he was really... was undecided about what to do. He really wanted to come back to California. He had an opportunity to chauffeur two elderly ladies. He came earlier than he intended and he was homesick though for quite a while. But he worked for a year, then he went to City College and then he went to state university and he's been teaching a long time. He teaches junior high. He also teaches piano and while he was here he got interested in the Mormon Church. We didn't know what it was all about and he wanted to be married to this girl, Louanne Miller. She was in the church. And he studied it and finally decided to join. Then he told us about it. The missionaries came to explain things to us. And we knew we couldn't see him married unless we were members. But we did come the following year for a month. And so we studied the church, too..." End of tape
Donald and Bertha, My grandparents
In the 1970s, as I remembered them!
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo