Mom's Haley Family Memories, part 8: Their Sister Helen
did you get a chance to chat and "collect" memories about your sister, our Aunt
Helen? What did you guys come up with?
I kept forgetting to ask
Winnie if she ever remembered Helen (their sister) getting her thyroid
checked. She doesn't think so and I don't think so either.
She was always thin and never put any weight on until near her menopause years,
then only for a short time (so she may well have had a hyperthyroid, like mine was). She was a good sister and I loved her dearly.
cousin Brian is Aunt Helen’s oldest son and an air force retiree same as me. He
now works in the Washington D.C. area. I asked him if he’d also like to get
involved with this “Haley family story” effort particularly concerning his late
mother’s part of “the story” as narrated by his Aunt Mary (my mom). He readily expressed interest and wrote my mother
to that effect. She responded to his questions about his mother, her sister:
On Wed, May 21, 2014 at
6:32 PM, Mary Spear wrote:
First of all Brian, I
know who you are and have thought of you often. Whenever we have any family get-togethers
we all hope to see you and Melinda there. Kevin had a Haley Family picnic
at Laurie at his home on Freeland Road last August. The Kehoe family
cousins came too. It was great fun seeing everyone.
|Aunt Helen is sitting in the middle w the long dress|
Mary, my mom, is 2nd fm the left top
Cute lil Aunt Win is seated on ground middle
I was four years old
when your Mom was born at home in the small town of New Toronto, Ontario. My Father was born in Canada but his
father Patrick Albert Haley was born in Buffalo New York and never
took Canadian citizenship. So Dad, your grandfather, was always
an American. He came over to Flint to live with his aunt and work
here. That is where he met Mom. After they married in
1930 at the height of The Depression they went to Canada where
there were a few more opportunities for work. They stayed there for
until 1940. Four of us were born there—Bill, then me, Pat, and
Our Mom was expecting
Uncle Mike and he was born about a month after we arrived back in the
states. Your Mom was 2 1/2 years old when we came
over. We moved to Midland, when your Mom was 4. My Dad
was always trying to better his job. Winnie was born in Midland. We
only lived in each city for 1 or 2 years. Finally we moved to
Saginaw and Uncle Jim was born there. Six years later Uncle Joe
came along in 1950.
Your Mom attended 12 years of
school at Saint Mary's. She took secretarial classes there and
got a job on the West Side of Saginaw just over the bridge from Downtown Saginaw doing
office work. I think she worked there till she married your
Dad. I'll try to get with your Aunt Winnie for more stories.
She was going to sit down and write what she remembers about Helen.
I married the year your Mom graduated from High School and left
90 days later for Japan so I missed a lot of your Mom's early adult life until
we retired in 1971. I will try to write more later as memories occur.
Love Aunt Mary
|Late 1950s with Uncle Art & Aunt Eleanor's "crew"|
Aunt Helen is top left next to sister Winnie
following is by Aunt Winnie by way of my mother in reply to my Cousin Brian
Kennedy’s request for information on his mother, their sister Helen. My mother
was a bit older than her sister Helen, so Aunt Winnie graciously provides the
following memories of her older sister Helen as well as what it was like in the
Haley household back in the day. If you are a Haley or interested in Haley life
in the 40s and 50s then the following is very powerful stuff indeed.
|Aunt Helen (L) in her early 20s visited us|
in Maine 1960.
My sister Mary Kay (M) and Mom
Aunt Winnie: Hi
Brian! Hmmmm - so much about our childhood growing up! This could take a while!
I was too young to
remember your mom's younger years as she was four years older than me; but with your mom on down, we went to Emerson School; that was a block away
from our home of 20 years, 1308 Merrill Street, Saginaw, Michigan. Our next door
neighbors, the Ruckert's, were very much a part of our lives. Kathleen Ruckert
was your mom's age and they were very close friends. Many hours of fun were
spent on the Haley porch in the spring and hot summer months. The Frank Lagalo
Family along with Grandpa Tony lived across the street on Weadock.
Tony owned the Ice Cream Parlor and later one of his sons started Tony's Restaurant.
Years later there were many Tony's Italian Restaurants in Saginaw. The Bay City
"Grandpa Tony's” is still going strong. They were all well known for their
Italian Steak Sandwiches and thick milk shakes
|Aunt Helen (L) 20 yrs old Oct '58|
Aunt LaLa with her brother George
and Dan, who was a year younger, and your mom would play jacks on the porch for
hours. On many evening we recited The Rosary. There was roller skating, Hide-and-Seek
and Kick-the-Can. As Uncle Mike and I got older we joined in on all the fun.
The family had a wooden wagon and we would take turns getting in the wagon
where we would be covered with a blanket and then have to figure out where we
were going. We would do the same thing in the car when we would go with dad on
errands. We would kneel on floor - cover our eyes and try to guess what street
we were on. In the winter we would play outside for hours making angels in the
snow, building forts. Your mom loved to ice skate - many weekends and Friday
evenings were spent ice skating at Hoyt Park on Washington Avenue. Overall,
unless people knew your mom she was very shy. She also had a very good friend,
Janet Leachman, throughout her years at Saint Mary's.
Helen did a lot of
babysitting in the neighborhood for the McMaster's, Fournier's, the Piliofsifis
families and the Tom Slade Family. We all went to Saint Mary’s grade school
and high school which was next to St Mary Cathedral Church. Your mom was one of
the only granddaughter's that was unable to wear Grandma Kehoe's First
Communion veil as our cousin Mary Lou made hers on the same day, and they lived
in Flint. So your mom was the only daughter in our family having her own veil.
The Dominican Sisters taught at St Mary’s and your mom found some
subjects very hard. I remember her studying diligently every evening. But she
did excel in typing and bookkeeping, so after graduating from high school she worked
several jobs. I remember Schaubel New's and Garber Buick with Great Lakes
Express being her last office job. She had to go on maternity leave I believe
in her 6th month of pregnancy with you. She then was a stay-at-home mom while
you children were growing up; although I believe she did babysit for a family
over on Michigan Road for a couple of years.
The Haley Family was a singing family. We all had our jobs to do, so many
evenings when doing dishes, we sang to pass the time more pleasantly. And oh
how we dreaded Saturdays! Grandma Haley (my mother) would bake all day long for our daily
desserts - cakes, cookies, pies and butter tarts (that Dad would count to make
sure we didn't have any more then we were supposed to!). It would take us hours
to finish dishes due to all the baking utensils that accumulated. Even so,
poor mom would be baking again on Wednesday's as there would be no sweets left.
|The Haley Family was a singing family.|
Your mom was very
thrifty and so goodhearted, always with money put away. I remember both Aunt
Mary, in nurses training, and I, in 7/8 grade borrowing her clothes when we had
something special going on. When I was
in high school she was always there to buy my cheer leading outfits if I didn't have enough of my own babysitting money to pay for them.
|When this was taken Aunt Helen (holding towel) was just 18 years old|
This was just a month after my mother's wedding
definitely cleaning day. There were no such things as electric vacuum cleaners
until the early fifties. Wet news papers were put down on the area rugs, pulled
up and then swept with a broom. Washing was done in a huge kitchen with
wringer washer and twin tubs. In winter your Aunt Mary and your mom would
take the wet clothes upstairs and hang them in the attic. I also remember we
would sometimes have sock mending time. Mom would give us either a light bulb
or a wooden bulb that we would put the sock on and weave the heavy duty darning
thread through the holes making the sock's wearable for a few more months. The
family always teased Helen about her red hair and a temper to match it at
times; but she was a very loving and caring person. I have so many fond
memories of your mom.
We didn't have TV until
I believe the fall of 1956 but my mom and dad would be invited next door on Sunday Evenings to watch the Ed Sullivan Show. Before TV came along our evenings were
filled with sitting around the radio listening to shows like The Lone Ranger,
Sky King, Ozzie and Harriet, and Father Knows Best. We would argue over what
show we were going to listen to. Of course there was also The Rosary broadcast
during Lent and The Bishop Sheen Hour that we listened to on Sunday evenings.
Every morning Grandma Haley would have the Breakfast Club on and of course in
the evenings Dad would listen to the hockey and baseball games and any other
sports that he could tune in.
|My mom & dad's wedding Feb 1956|
18 year old Aunt Helen is 2nd from the right
Aunt Winnie is 15 on the right
Whenever Grandma and
Grandpa and our aunt and uncles came in from Flint, we kids would be upstairs
taking turns looking down through the vents watching them play cards and
listening to all the fun they were having.
During many a supper
time your mom, Uncle Mike and myself would find ourselves sitting in the closet
because we would be giggling at the table, and when we couldn't stop, Dad would
tell us to go into the closet until we could behave. We would come back and sit down, look at each
other and start laughing all over again. So right back to the closet we went.
Uncle Art Haley lived
with us when he got out of the army (at the end of WWII). He was just like a kid also, chasing Uncle
Bill and Uncle Mike through the house and jumping off the stairway landing into
the breakfast room. All that craziness would only take place when Dad was out
on the road making his sales rounds. He would come home on weekends. Mom was a
saint to put up with all the shenanigans and racket every evening.
|The entire Haley Family.|
Aunt Helen 22 is next to my mom, 3rd from left
When it was time for bed
Mom would sit in her rocking chair up in the hallway with all of us kids at her
knees saying our evening prayers. After tucking us into bed she would rock
there until we were all asleep. What a wonderful example she was to all of us.
Mom was 48 years of age when Joe was born. At that time in 1950 Bill was 18,
Mary 16, your mom 12, Mike 10, myself 8, and Jim 6.
As a family we never
went on vacations. In the hot summer months during the polio epidemic, if the
weather was hot we were not allowed to go outside from 12 noon until 4 in the
afternoon. I remember having to take salt pills during that time. I only remember
one summer going on a picnic at Ojibway Island when I was about 8 years old.
We also went to Flint occasionally to see Grandma and Grandpa Kehoe, but
on a few occasions, if the seven of us children were too rambunctious, Dad
would turn around and go back home. So our Mom, because of us, wasn't able to visit with her parents. (Funny what we remember growing up!) Poor Mom, and she
|Aunt Helen (top center) is 24 during this photo|
taken during our visit to Michigan
But we had a wonderful
childhood growing up, no different than our neighbors at the time. We were poor
but we didn't know it or dwell on it. Dad always made sure there was a roof
over our head and food on the table. We were raised in the 30's through the 50's
when most of the families that were our neighbors were going through the same
Our Christmases were
magical. We never saw the Christmas tree until Christmas morning. The stockings
were full of oranges, apples, and walnuts (no coal so we must have been pretty
good!). We usually got one toy or game and Aunt LaLa and Grandma would send a
huge box full of clothes. Dad would go
out with Mom on Christmas Eve to get one gift for each one of us. Mother would
knit mitten's etc. She also made a lot of our clothes, even our winter
|The Haley "girls!"|
Aunts Winnie, Helen and my mom with Grandma Haley
I think all 4 have been drinking!
Probably sometime in the early 70s
We moved to 637 South
12th Street in summer of 1956. Your mom met a new friend Pat LeRoux whom
she became very good friends with. Helen loved to dance. She and Pat spent many
weekends dancing at the Falcon's Club, also at the Four Aces and The Red Horse.
I believe that is where she met your Dad. I also knew your dad when I was in
high school at Holy Rosary; he and your Uncle Jim used to chum around in our
neighborhood at one of my friend’s from Holy Rosary high school. It’s a small
world; he ended up meeting your mom and the rest is history.
|Aunt Helen foreground next to Uncle Jerry|
Feel free to share this
with Mark - Theresa and Karen. I hope this gives you an idea of what our
childhood was like and how much your mom meant to all of us in the Haley
Aunt Helen’s passing was hard to bear. It took
place over about a dozen years. At only 50 years old, Alzheimer’s began
to conquer her body starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was horrible
for her of course but it was also tough on all those who loved her, her family
and close friends. The pain of her passing is still so strong, even until now,
that I was not able to get anyone to reminisce about her final years. I will
say though that she did not go down easy. She fought for life as hard as anyone
can, right up until the bitter end. So, I will make this epilogue of her final
years, months and days a spare one; although if anyone wants to add anything I
will certainly do so.
|Most of the extended Haley Family in the late 1960s|
I look to be about 10 years old in this wearing striped shirt front right standing
Aunt Helen (Center) holding both hands of one of her brood, probably my cousin Brian
As you were! I was able
to contact two of my cousins, make that three of them, just now on Facebook, Aunt Helen’s kids Brian,
Theresa and Karen, who gave me their input on their mom's difficult demise.
Theresa was particularly forthcoming:
Brian: My mother was
born in May 1938 and passed 16 August 2001, same death date as Elvis, only 24
years later and only a few weeks before Sep 11th. That would make her just over
63 when she died. You are correct Phil that she started showing signs of the
disease in the early 90s. My first experience was on leave from the Air Force
in 93 when she didn't know exactly who I was except that I was a relative.
Karen: She was
misdiagnosed for 4 years and finally officially diagnosed in 1991. She was 50 when she got it and 63 when she
Theresa: My mom's
misdiagnosis was” healthy woman going through menopause.” Back then they didn't know what they know now
with the progression. The meds even now just slow it down and cannot cure it.
She progressed through her stages very quickly because she was a lot younger when
Phil: Oh, i didn't
realize that’s how it worked... So, younger onset means quicker progression?
Theresa: Yes, she progressed very quickly.
Phil: Ah, you mean she
kind of lost herself very quickly? Because she lasted a long time, more than 12
Phil: I had only a few
months left before retirement when she finally died. I remember she could no
longer accept a feeding tube at the end.
That was a heartbreaking thing to contemplate, to finally go that way.
Theresa: Yes! It was
very hard! She was on a feeding tube for 3 years. She was young and we loved
her, so we did what we thought best.
Phil: I personally would never
question such a thing. You did it
exactly correct. Always “err” on the side of life!
Theresa: Alzheimer's is such a horrific disease. We
lost our mom and then lost her again when she died! It was the hardest thing.
When we knew that she only had days left, that’s when I found out that I was
pregnant with Trevor, my youngest. I was so stressed and so scared because it
took us so long to get pregnant again after having a miscarriage. I miss my mom everyday!
But we, her kids, are so close!
Phil: Were you already
close when this happened? Did it make you closer?
Theresa: It made us closer.
Phil: So, you could say THAT
was your mom’s final gift to her family.
Theresa: My sister and I
are 4 years apart. We fought growing up, like sisters do!
We are best
Phil: Reading that I
have to say that I’m touched. I hope you will allow me to include our
conversation here as a fitting end to my mom's Haley Memoirs on your mom, my
All the Haley Siblings
Uncles Mike, Bill, Jim & Joe
Aunt Helen, my mom & Aunt Winnie
Helen Haley Kennedy, born in May of 1938 left
this earth at the age of 63 in 2001. She is missed. She is loved. May God bless
her and rest her soul.
Mom's Haley Family Memories, part 7: Pat, her little brother
The next child in the Haley Family was my
brother, Patrick Charles. He was born in 1936, in
May. He was a cute little guy with blond hair and a round chubby
face. My first remembrance of him is when I was four years
old. My Mom had me watch him outdoors and take him for walks in his
stroller, actually quite a job for a little 4 year old.
being outdoors and we would walk to the park (which was quite near). I remember
keeping him out quite long as he enjoyed it too. He had a
diaper accident and I didn't realize it and just kept on walking. He
had wet himself and in those days we didn't have plastic pants or disposables;
so the poor little guy got pretty sodden I guess. Anyway when we
got home Mom was upset with me that I didn't bring him home
sooner. I felt bad about it and didn't want to have her mad at
Not too long after that he became quite ill and as a child, nothing
was really told to me except that he was quite ill. My sister Helen
had been born by this time and that is probably why I was given so much responsibility.
Anyway he had to go to the Children's Charity Hospital in Toronto.
My Dad was the only one who could go visit him as Mom was caring for tiny
Helen. The only transportation they had was by
streetcar. It was quite a lengthy trip from New Toronto (a
suburb of Toronto along Lake Ontario). Poor Dad hated the trip and
then hated to leave that darling little boy to come home.
there at age two of a kidney disease and an infection in his spinal column—nephrosis
and spinal Meningitis. It was all so sad for our
family. I thought for years that if I had just brought him home
sooner he wouldn't have gotten that infection and died.
It was so
traumatic for my dad; he couldn't go to the hospital to visit anyone after
that. I remember that Pat's toy teddy bear and his small blanket
were stored on a shelf and we weren't allowed to play with it as it was a sweet
remembrance of him. You will find his picture taken in New
Toronto with Bill and me. He has a white snow suit on.
I just remembered more about
Pat. We were so poor we couldn't afford to have his funeral at a
funeral home so we had him laid out in his little casket in our front living
room. Bill was only 6 years old and he thought that Pat was just
laying there sleeping. He went over to the casket and took Pat's hands and
pulled him up to nearly sitting saying, “Come on Pat, get up and
let's play." My folks just about keeled over and I remember them
coming over at a rush.
Poor Bill, he didn't understand. Kids weren't really told much in those
days. It's much better today telling children what is going
on. I guess they thought they were protecting us. I on
the other hand was a listener and sat near the adults listening and learning.
Mom's Haley Family Memories, part 6: her big brother, OUR Uncle Bill
|Baby Uncle Bill|
Uncle Bill was the eldest of you and your siblings. What are
some of your first memories of your big brother?
Mom’s big brother, “Uncle
My first memories of my brother Bill?
I guess it’s when my Dad was taking him for a haircut when we lived in New
Toronto and I wanted to go with them. I was three years old. (1937) Dad said “No," but I must have been a headstrong little gal because I
started to follow them, thinking I knew the way they walked. But I DIDN’T know
and I got lost. A kind lady saw me cross the busy highway to
Toronto a couple of times and figured I was lost and she took me in and called
the police to let them know. I had messed up my clothes and she cleaned me
up. By the time my frantic Dad arrived I was really worried that I was in deep
trouble. But he was so glad that I was okay that I didn't get
punished. But I NEVER wandered off alone again!
This story is so darn cute! Remember how I disappeared in 1961 when I was 4? We were living in Maine, it was winter and I had crawled into the neighbor’s doghouse and just fell asleep for several hours. It was cold out and the dog was warm! Your story reminds me of that.
|Trailer park in East Holden Maine|
Our trailer after a blizzard, 1961
|Back yard of our trailer 1961|
MK and I sitting in a duck boat
(I remember that VERY well. It was a scary event when we lost you that day. It was while we were still living in the trailer park at Holden Maine. It was very chilly outside. You kids always played near the trailer with all the other neighbor kids. Gene was home from work and I was cooking supper. I called you in to come in for supper, but you didn't answer. We searched all over, even looking in the dumpsters and down at the lake. Finally one of the guys saw you crawling out of the neighbor's dog house where you had fallen asleep hugging the dog. We were so happy to find you. I remember you couldn't see why everyone was so upset. We sure were happy to finally move into base housing where it was much safer.)
So what was Uncle Bill like as a kid? How did you guys get along?
Bill and I were never
very close, just the usual brother sister relationship. He found
school a bit hard and so my Mother gave him a lot of attention with
homework. I never minded that as I liked school and did okay on my
own. He always wanted to please the folks I
think. He was always saying, “I'm just like my Dad!"
He always had a lot of respect for Dad. He tried football when he
went to Saginaw High but quit school in the 10th grade, or at least I
believe when he turned 16.
When he got drafted, how did everyone react? How is it he ended up working for Kroger his whole life?
He went to work for Kroger’s at that time
and worked there all his working life except when he was drafted into the Army
in 1953 and sent to Korea during the war. He was a big help to Mom
and Dad financially and they really missed that while he was gone. I
on the other hand was in nurses training and couldn't help them at all; they
were still raising five more children.
|My mother is bottom left,|
Her sister Helen in the middle sitting on lap
Uncle Bill back right
Why did he never get married?
I asked Bill once why he never married and he said, “I can't
handle all that responsibility" I guess he had quite a few
girl friends but I never met them, but, he found other outlets to keep busy with. He is and always had been very
active in the Knights of Columbus and that is mainly most of his social
So that is about it. Right now he is trying to
stay well enough to have surgery on his left eye. The doctor hopes to fill the
hole in the retina so his vision will improve. Hopefully that will
take place on October 8th. So keep him in your prayers.
|The entire Haley family|
died years after you provided that last comment regarding his eye
procedure. Could you talk about his battle to recover from his years of not
paying much attention to his cardiovascular health and his final passing?
Uncle Bill got busy exercising I was busy taking care of your dad who needed
care for longer than most people were aware of. I do know that Bill did try to
walk and ride his stationary bike to regain his strength but his breathing was
a problem for quite a while. Win (Mom’s
did a lot for him then. After he couldn't see well enough to drive he finally
gave it up and she took him to his doctor appointments. About the time Gene
died he was already using O2 but not out in public. It seemed like it
progressed very fast after that.
|A WHOLE lot of Haley's in one place|
Uncle Bill in the back next to Uncle Jim
Aunt Helen & Aunt Winnie top left
Uncle Art & Aunt Eleanor and LOTS of cousins
And lets not forget Grandpa n Grandma Haley center left
finally passed away on February 28, 2010. He was 77 years
old. He died sitting on his couch with his 02 (oxygen)
running. Evidently he must have had a heart attack; he had his
emergency bracelet on and didn't even hit it. He had COPD and
emphysema, coronary bradycardia, and coronary artery disease.
He’d had a
stroke about 20 years before he died. That is when he quit smoking, too
late though as the lung damage had already been done. His death certificate also says he
had Type 2 diabetes. He never told Winnie or I about this
diagnosis and he certainly didn't watch his diet, probably because he didn't
want us watching what he ate.
|Uncle Bill all the way in the back in the kitchen w a beer|
Lots of Haley's in the house on 12th Street, Saginaw
This is the house that I remember
His vision remained very impaired, macular
holes in both eyes finally to the point that he couldn't drive
anymore. He drove much longer than he really should have. I had
called him from Florida around 7 pm and he said he was doing
fine. He didn't seem distressed then. Gail called him a little
later and asked if there was anything she could do for him. He told
her, "No, I'm okay." After Mass on Sunday morning Vana
stopped at his apartment, (where he had moved after selling his house to Gail) and
found him dead, still sitting on the couch.
|Uncle Mike, Aunt LaLa n Uncle Bill|
good times down in the basement,
the scene of MANY great parties!
You know Mom, that's the first I'd heard those details on
Uncle Bill's passing. It seems that he didn't want to trouble anyone too much
with his physical problems. I can respect that. A lot of folks end their days
whining and moaning. Like a lot of folks who were born in the 30’s and 40’s, he
“undid” himself almost unknowingly, though a lifetime of smoking, poor diet and
a lack of consistent exercise.
My OWN memories of him in stream of consciousness style: early
60s in the house on 12th Street, Uncle Bill coming and going, Kevin and I
sleeping up in "the top floor barracks room" with all the other
"Haley boys (our uncles)." Uncle Bill coming home at odd hours due to
his job at Kroger’s (not to mention he WAS a bachelor!), trudging up the stairs
and staggering around down by his single bed by the stairway; the sound of his coin
change falling out of his pockets onto the floor when he took his pants off for
sleep, coins rolling all over the place. (Later I’d crawl around on the wooden
slat floor and retrieve them under the beds. How many beds WERE there up there?
At least 8 or 9 single beds I think).
Uncle Bill (and he wasn't the ONLY one!) crossly telling Grandma,
"MA! Get off my back!" when she'd ask him to do something he didn't
want to, like getting up for work or having a bite to eat.
|Uncle Mike, Uncle Bill. Uncle Keith Spear (my dad's brother)|
Another Haley basement party, this one in the mid 60s
And then years
later, when we moved in with them for that year in Birch Run on Oak Street,
Uncle Bill would come home from work, have dinner and then fall asleep on the
recliner, usually with a lit cigarette in his hand, sometimes with more than an
inch of ash waiting to fall.
I spent a LOT of time in that house over the years
because my paper route papers were delivered there and during that time Uncle
Bill made it WAY too easy for me to mess with him because he was always
sleeping in the living room. I’d take a cigarette out of his open pack,
carefully remove a half inch of tobacco put in some dirt and dust and then
repack the tip with tobacco to make the cig look normal. I’d wake him up
knowing that he’d reach right away for one and I’d watch him with a huge smirk
on my face waiting for that moment when the fire would reach the dirt. I never
got tired of watching his reaction when the cigarette would sputter and stink.
He NEVER caught on. Shame on me! (God help me, recalling it as I type this I’m
laughing RIGHT NOW!)
|Uncle Joe's 1st wife, Aunt Genie; then Uncle Joe and Uncle Bill|
Early 70s at a restaurant
And Uncle Bill’s snore! He'd snore so loud that it would
rattle Grandma's china. And you ARE right. I clearly remember him saying many
times how much like his dad he was. When I became a know-it-all young teenager
sometimes he'd have something to say and I must have given him a “you dumb ass
look” because he'd look at me and chuckle, "You think I'm full of it,
don't you, you young PUP!"
More than anything else, Uncle Bill is the
reason I never took up smoking. In early 1972 I stole a pack of his cigs and
smoked two or three of them in that storage closet in Grandma's garage. The
next morning I woke up with THE worst flu I've ever had. It was so bad that I
couldn't go to school for three days. In my mind I associated it with those
cigarettes I'd copped from Uncle Bill. Just the idea of smoking a cigarette
after that turned my stomach.
All in all though,
Uncle Bill was a good feller. I remember that laugh he did; it was like he
was surprised. It was a HEH! And that was usually it UNLESS he REALLY found
something to be funny. I never saw him laugh more than when he was with Uncle
Jim and another one or two of his brothers and Uncle Jim "let one go"
inside his snowmobile suit, practically choking himself to death on his
own flatulence. Uncle Bill laughed so hard, turned so red, that I thought
he was going to pass out. To me, THAT was WAY funnier than what Uncle Jim did.
I REALLY miss Uncle Bill, ....a lot.
Uncles Mike, Bill, Jim and Joe
Aunt Helen, My mom Mary and Aunt Winnie
Mom's Haley Family Memories, part 5: Grampa Charlie & Grandma Haley
What kind of dad was Grandpa Charlie? Was he a disciplinarian?
My Dad was a good
guy and we all dearly loved him. He of course was a man of his era,
always the boss of the house. It was always his way or no way, very
strict with all seven of us; although we used to tease Joe that Dad
spoiled him. He was 45 when Joe came along and probably too
tired to argue about things by that time. He was very strict with
Bill and me. When we didn't do what we were supposed to he gave out the
punishments (restricted to the house etc). Then he would leave to
visit with his friend Mickey McGovern and leave Mom to fend off our
He loved to follow the
boys’ sports and always belonged to the Athletic Association at Saint
Mary's. He was a pretty good Hockey Player in Toronto and skated
with the semi pro team there. His picture in uniform with the team always hung
on the dining room wall for all to see. (Where IS that picture?)
Days later… First of all I want to tell you we think we have found my dad’s
hockey pic, the one I told you about that used to hang in the dining room.
Uncle Bill gave it to Mike and he gave it to Michael Sean. I just
talked to Nan who just returned from up north with her friends. She isn't sure
that Mike took it when he moved so she will look for it. We hope to have
some good copies made and get it to you.
|Hockey Player Grandpa Charlie in his late teens|
I wish I could
remember that photo when it was on the dining room wall, but I don’t recall it
at all, too young I guess. Michael Shawn was kind enough to scan it into
Facebook and Kevin sent it to me attached to an email. I also posted it into my
Flickr photos. Mom, can you provide some more details on the photo?
Let's see if I can put the time element together
for that pic. He probably was between 18 and 20 and yes it was a semi pro team
in Toronto. He quit school after 12 years, never graduating. Primary school was
13 years in Canada then. In about 1925 he came to the states probably around 20
years old, not long after that photo was taken. He married Mom when he was 25
in 1930. The picture was never up when they lived on 12th Street; it was always
in our dining room on Merrill Street. I think Joe said it was stored in the
basement on 12th Street, so you wouldn't have seen it.
|Great Grandma n Grampa Haley w little Grandpa Charlie|
His hockey background
made him a wonderful skater. He taught us all to skate and we loved it. Central
Junior (across the street) had a rink in front of our house so we were pretty
close to the ice, and he took us to Hoyt Park quite often. He would
skate around enjoying the ice and would stop to watch the young hockey
enthusiasts and quite often would join in their game. We would hear them
remark, "Look at that old guy go!" He was probably in his mid
to late 30's at that time, young by our standards now.
He held a variety of
jobs but the last years of his life he was an auto parts salesman. He
really liked that job, called on lots of stores all over the Thumb Area and
around Saginaw and outlying towns. His great love was being a member
of the UTC (United Commercial Travelers). He made many friends and enjoyed
calling on the stores and shooting the breeze with the owners. He met
Grandpa Spear through that job selling parts to the State Highway Department
where Grandpa worked. Once he found out that your Dad was the son of Ray
Spear that’s when it became alright for me to date him. Dad was always
very strict with who I was allowed to have as my friends.
|1961: Phil, MK, brand new Kevin|
About a year before Granda died
My dad was so very proud of his first
grandchildren. You and Mary Kay and Kevin were the only three he was to
know as he died so young, just 57 years old. He bought you a beautiful
trike and I remember at the time that he really couldn't afford it but he
wanted you to have it. Today he probably would have had a bypass or
pacemaker and would have lived at least into his 70's but it was not to
|Grandpa & Grandma Haley|
55 and 58 years old
his life style as far as what he did to affect his health? Back in the day
diet, smoking and exercise was not much on the cultural radar like it is these
days. Also, some of your stories lead me to believe that he did not manage his
stress level very well.
Actually he did most of all the wrong things. He smoked camel
cigarettes for years, but at least he did change to filtered when I was in high
school. I never thought that he overreacted to things but I guess you are
right, he did get upset easily. Mom was much more laid back. They
say that opposites attract and they were very opposite.
|Grandpa turned in his chair|
Grandma behind him
The piano is to the left behind her
of your mom, MY grandma, Winifred Haley, I think this would be a good place to talk about
her. She was a good buddy to me from the time dad retired from the air force
and we moved to Michigan right up to mid 1975 when I shipped out to the
Francis, Mary and Winifred Kehoe
Grandma Haley's parents
Mary (Scott) & William Kehoe
Your Grandmother, Winifred Catherine Kehoe Haley was born in
Chicago, February 2, 1902. I'm not sure when they moved
to Flint, Michigan, but I believe it was when she was quite
young. Her four
siblings Charles, Mary, Frances, and Margaret were all
born in Flint. I don't know why they moved to Chicago as I
believe both their families were from Wisconsin. I only recall
them talking about the house on 2nd street one street off Detroit Street. I
remember them saying that they had a horse and buggy lodged in a stable across
the street that Grandma Kehoe used to drive; but when they got a
car she never learned to drive that. They were only about 2 or
3 blocks from Saint Michael’s Church and school, so she walked there
for Mass and classes. I started school in Toronto and then finished the
1st grade at Saint Mike's.
|Top left, the same little girls above|
Francis, Mary, Winifred, Margaret
Parents Mary & William Kehoe
Their 50th anniversary
But I digress from Grandma’s story. Grandma
Winifred found school a little hard so her parents sent her to high school
at a private school in Monroe, at Saint Mary's, where she graduated in
1920. The other three girls graduated from Saint Michael's in
Flint. She got a job in the office at the Buick Plant and worked there
till she married my Dad.
She met him through mutual friends who all
ran around together. Dad's best friend, Miles Martin, worked at his
Dad's funeral home and he and my Dad and their buddies would take the hearse
and pick up the demised to prepare them for the funeral. (Doesn’t
that sound like fun? Ha! Ha!) Mom
knew Miles and he introduced them.
They married in 1930 and soon after the
honeymoon they went to Toronto as there were jobs there. They stayed there
for nearly 10 years, coming back (to Flint) in September 1940 where Uncle Mike
was born on December 25, 1940. They lived there probably a year before
moving to Midland, every time always to find a little better
job. Winnie was born in Midland, June 14, 1942.
A year later we moved to Saginaw and they stayed in the home on Merrill Street until
around 1958 when they bought the house on 12th Street. After
her marriage my Mom was a homemaker for the rest of her life.
|Winifred Haley and her brother and sisters|
Charles, Mary, Frances,Winifred n Margaret
Grandma Haley had a pronounced hump in her back that got
worse as she aged. You or Grandma used to say that it was from bad posture
while she was doing secretarial work during her working years. I believed you
guys for years but later I began to realize that that couldn't be true, that
she must have had some sort of congenital condition, like scoliosis or
No she didn't have scoliosis. I truly
believe it was bad posture.
Her back condition was just so pronounced that I have a hard
time accepting that sitting in a slumped fashion could possibly have caused it,
at least not without some other underlying problem. I found this online, a site
explaining why some women develop what’s called a “dowager’s hump.” Tell me
what you think. “If you have
Osteoporosis of the spine, your vertebrae can fracture. This can
cause Kyphosis or a Spinal hump.”
That explains the back
problem very well. That also is why as we age we start shrinking in height. We
all get osteoporosis, seems like it is more prevalent in women. But I do see it
in men also.
(I've actually already written a personal tribute to my Grandma Haley a few years back. Here's the link: "My Time Machine, My Grandma"
|Grandma Haley 78 years old|
Aunt Nan and Aunt Winnie seated behind her