My Mother grew up in rural Pennsylvania south of a little town called New Hope along the Delaware River. She
lived in a home that was built by her father's family, who were Quakers and fine craftsmen.
The original Hall homestead was 9 acres and not as landscaped as this current shot of it.
She was a smart woman and not much for home baking and that sort of thing. Having graduated high school at 16, she was sent to live with her widowed Aunt in Philadelphia, where she might enjoy more “possibilities.” She started at Temple University where she performed in HMS Pinafore, but the pull of work and having money to spend was strong, so she started working full time. Her clothes were very stylish and of a quality you rarely find today. I know because I played dress up in some of them!
Eventually she was chosen from the secretarial pool at WCAU TV Channel 10 in Philadelphia to work for the president of the company, Leon Levy. While working for him, she met a cast of people who were quite influential in radio and the entertainment business like Bill Paley and his wife, Babe; Frank Sinatra and his children , Frank and Nancy; Peggy Lee; and she got to act in an old show “Day in Court.”.
1622 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA – The Golden Age of Radio
Now you may wonder why they chose her to work for the president of the company. She was very bright, talented, self possessed and here's a picture of Marian when she was at my Grandparents home for the weekend.
She was 5'10″ with naturally wavy hair and with a good eye for clothing detail. I was and am still proud of her style and beauty.
Here she is with my brother Spence and me in 1956, still looking every bit the glamorous woman she was.
Three more years passed and along came my younger sister Carol who took after Marian in height and personality. (But she doesn't sing!)
Mom stayed at home with us until I was 10, when we moved from Philadelphia to central New Jersey. She didn't have the great support group of friends that we had in Philadelphia, so she had to get back out into the world of adults, working for “Welcome Wagon” in NJ in the late 60's.
She was happy again, meeting people and using her considerable charm to do her job. That job led her to a career in real estate in which she was skilled and successful immediately. Our home life was improved financially and we took several vacations a year as a family. Mom and Dad bought an investment house to help fund retirement, which was yet 11 years off for my Father.
Disaster struck when my Dad had a silent heart attack that took him away while we were on vacation in 1969. Only 49 years old and a widow, my Mother kept working in real estate and became a broker, opening her own office in Hunterdon County, NJ where we moved after I finished high school. She bought us a bigger home, contracted to have a built-in pool in our yard, and kept going. We had a place to come home to and some sense of permanence and security. I have to hand it to her, because that is not an easy thing to do, but she managed it with grace and never complained or looked back.
I am reading a book called Strong Mothers, Strong Sons by Meg Meeker, MD. In the book, Dr. Meeker says that to a son, Mother is his home. Well, it's the same for daughters. As long as she was well, I had a sense of home near her, though I had been off on my own since age 19. When my new husband Ted and I wanted to build a home, he needed an extra $10,000 and my mother quickly gave it to him, no questions asked, when his own family did not. He repaid it in a few years.
A few years after Dad passed away, my Grandmother died. My Grandad came to live with us. But there were numerous older relatives,and she was there for each of them. The shock of my Dad's passing and the burden of carrying a family alone told physically on my Mom as years passed. She was the person who cared for many of her aged relatives. It was little things at first, but after awhile, it became more pronounced to the family members. Already living away from home, I did what I could, but each time I saw her I knew that life had changed. She developed Alzheimer's and I became her guardian. My husband and I built an addition onto our house where I hoped she would come to live but she said no, still having moments of clarity and saying, ” I wouldn't do that to you.” Her own Grandmother had suffered from a wasting disease, and I suspect that it was the same thing.
Though the disease took away most of who she was, time softens the memories. Now I recall the good things, the good times, and her strength, which keeps me going when I need a lift. We never thanked you enough for all you did for us. xx