I was born on a Saturday on Academy Hill, Derby, Connecticut. I am told that "Saturday's Child Must Work For A Living." I think I have done my share of work. My parents were both thirty years old when I was born. I was their first child. My brother, Robert J. Carson, was born in Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, Connecticut. My very first recollection is going with my father to see my brother in the hospital. Years later I described the room to my mother and she said that I had remembered it correctly. I also remember walking with my mother as she pushed the baby carriage. There was almost four years difference between my brother and I so we were not really companionable as children.
After Bob married, his wife and my mother had what you might call a very poor rapport and since my mother lived with us I did not see much of my brother. We were in Key Colony Beach, Florida at the time and Mary, his wife, did call us every now and then. One day after Christmas I flew to Miami to get a plane for Hartford, but
the Hartford airport was snowed in. I went back home and two days later flew to Connecticut. My childhood really wasn't exciting. My dad took us to the circus almost every year. My mother did not go with us. At that time the Barnum and Bailey Circus winter quarters were in Bridgeport, the city in which I was raised. One day either a lion or a tiger got loose, I don't remember which, and we did not have to go to school. When I was maybe three or four years old I spent Easter weekend at my Grandma Tiffany's in Derby, Connecticut. Uncle Roland was not married at that time and lived home with Grandma and Grandpa.
Easter morning Uncle Roland carried me out in the yard in my pajamas to an apple tree where the Easter bunny had left a basket for me. I loved to go to Grandma's house. She had a well, and in the summer time she would put food down the well. She did all her cooking on a big black wood stove. I thought she was the best cook in the world. She had gas lights with mantles similar to Coleman mantles today. As a little child I was fascinated with the outhouse. To a city kid this was really something. Uncle Roland and Aunt Lilian were married when I was about seven or eight years old. I remember I had a new white dress, which had lace inserts in it for the
wedding. My brother and I were cautioned to be very careful and not spill anything on ourselves. We were real excited and thrilled when Grandma Tiffany spilled ice cream down the front of her dress. Aunt Lilian and Uncle Roland moved to New Haven. Uncle Roland worked for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. On weekends I sometimes went to visit them. After their son, Richard. who is fourteen years younger than I, was born I would push him in the carriage. Later they moved to Quincy, Massachusetts, and when I was in High School I went on the train to visit them. That was a big deal. We attended the First Baptist Church in Bridgeport most of the time we lived there. However, at one time my father sang in a quartet at the Olivet Congregational Church so during that time we went there to church. My father sang semi-professionally and my mother graduated from Yale School of Music. I can remember my mother playing the piano. She and my dad sang together. My father also belonged to the Manufacturers' Chorus in Bridgeport.
When I was quite young it was apparent that I could not carry a tune. I imagine I was a great disappointment to my parents in that respect. Anyway they gave me piano lessons for about three years. I never really enjoyed playing nor did it help me sing. I still cannot carry a tune nor can I hear the chord changes. When I was nine years old I met Judy Larson, who became my best friend. We still keep in touch. When we were in high school almost every Saturday afternoon I would walk down to St. Patrick's Church with Marie. I would sit in the pew while she went to confession. Then we would walk the long way home so that we could walk by Marie's "boyfriend's" house. At that time the Catholic Church was much stricter than it is today. I wanted Marie to be my maid of honor when I was married, but she could not be in a wedding ceremony that was not performed by a priest. My mother was a "WASP," White, Anglo Saxon Protestant, and for years her beliefs were instilled in me. Looking back I cannot blame her for her beliefs for she was a product of her time, just as all of us are products of our time. As time went on, however, I became more tolerant of race and creed and can truly say today a person's race, creed or nationality does not influence how I feel about that person. I always wanted a dog or a cat, but my mother would not let us have one.
Each Spring the butcher's cat had kittens. At that time we had meat markets, which sold only meat, and grocery stores, which did not sell meat. The meat markets had sawdust on the floor. Each Spring the butcher would give me a kitten and each time I would have to bring it back. I always said when I had my own home I would have lots of cats and dogs, which we did have. Almost every Friday night when I was growing up Dad would take my mother, brother and me to the movies downtown. There was the feature picture, a newsreel, a cartoon and some vaudeville acts. Saturday afternoon when we were in grammar school the kids in the neighborhood would walk down to the Rialto Theatre. Admission was a dime. We saw a feature program, a cartoon and a serial. My folks took my brother and me on many picnics. Mother would pack a lunch and we would go to Seaside Park or Beardsley Park. Once in awhile we would go to Putnam Park where we would play in what we thought were caves. About once a year we would go to the Bedford Gardens. I do not remember just where they were located, but were in the Fairfield area. Quite often I would bring Marie and Bob brought one of
his friends. I remember one particular time. It was a Friday and at that time Catholics did not eat meat on Friday. Bob's guest was a little Jewish boy. Mother made ham sandwiches for the picnic and did not realize what she had done until it was time to eat. Both the kids ate the ham sandwiches. Both our parents truly loved both my brother and me. I was a Girl Scout and went to camp for four years. Camp probably was the most important thing in my life at that time. Some of us older campers had a Pioneer Unit. We cooked our own meals, and now I cannot remember what else we did, but it was a big deal. Scouting did a lot to broaden my horizons. For a short time after I was married and not working I worked with a Girl Scout Troop in Bridgeport.
A number of years later when June was a Girl Scout she went to the same camp I had attended, Camp Trefoil. One of the big events of my childhood was our trip to Buffalo to see my mother's brother, Ernest Meyers and his wife, Ruth, and their children, Betty and Dorothy. It was a trip of four hundred miles. On our way to Buffalo we stopped at Schenectady, N. Y. to see my mother's aunt, Jennie Meyers. Her husband and my mother's father were brothers.
I don't remember much about our visit in Buffalo, but we did see Niagara Falls. On the way home we spent one night in Rochester, N. Y. Two hundred miles a day was a good distance. When I was growing up, my mother's Aunt Annie Meyers visited us often. Aunt Annie never married. She would read to my brother and me. She
also would play games with us. We called her ''Nannie" which was a contraction of Aunt Annie. She lived in New Haven and shared an apartment with a Mrs. Adams. Both ladies had their own bedrooms and sitting rooms, but shared the kitchen. Each cooked her own meals.
After the stock market crash in 1929 the country settled into "The Great Depression." At that time there was no unemployment compensation. There were many suicides. Men would stop at the house and ask for food. My father would always prepare them a sandwich, a piece of cake or pie and something to drink. As I remember this would happen about once a week. When I was in high school I went to a settlement house in the poorer section of the city once a week. I supervised children's games for a couple of hours. The poverty under which these children lived impressed and bothered me. It was my first exposure to real poverty. During my high school years I spent several weekends at my Aunt Jill's. She had a friend who had a daughter my age, and we went roller skating on a Saturday night. This was Dorothy Ruth, who later would become one of my closest friends. Our
Senior trip in high school was to West Point. It was a day trip. The only thing I remember in any detail is that Marie, who was supposed to wear her glasses all the time, put the glasses in her purse and sat on them. They broke. After graduating from Central High School in Bridgeport I went to Booth and Baylis Business School also in Bridgeport. After graduating from there I found a job in the office of Mountain Grove Cemetery of all places. At that time we were most fortunate to find work of any kind. Both P.T. Barnum, the circus man, and Tom Thumb, the midget, were buried there. However, after I was married I was fired, for married women were not expected to work in those days. During the Presidential campaign of 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Bridgeport.
There was a big parade in his honor. You must remember that we did not have television at that time and to see a real live president was a big thrill, even if he was not the man one wanted to be elected, or re-elected. After high school when I was working I used to go evenings to the Bassick Junior High School gym to an exercise class. My favorite thing was trying to do tricks on the "horse." Also, at this time I played quite a bit of tennis. I never was very good but had a lot of fun. May 3, 1935, my father died of lung cancer at the age of forty-eight. At this time my brother went to live with my dad's sister, Terri, and her husband Jeremy. He stayed with Aunt Jill and for about a year, as I remember it. For a period of time he also lived at Grandma Tiffany's. He also was at a C.C.C. camp, for we were deep into the depression and there was no work. About a month after my Dad died, friends of my mother's invited her and me to spend a weekend with them in Ansonia. I really did not want to go. but those days were different from today's days. At that time I would not think of not doing what my mother wanted. even though I was eighteen years old, so our friends came down to Bridgeport and took us to Ansonia. We did not have a car. While we were visiting Mr. Moore, our host, said that he would like us to see some iris. I was thoroughly disgusted. Who wanted to see iris?
To go back a few years my brother went to a Boy Scout Camp in Derby. My dad and I went to see him and met Bill at that time. After we left, Bill asked Bob if I had a boyfriend and Bob said "yes" so he never pursued the friendship. When we went to see the iris, we both remembered having met before and the next Saturday night he came to see me. To cut a long story short, we got married subsequently and then life did become exciting. We spent our honeymoon in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We rented a little cabin complete with fireplace in which we built a fire each evening. Cabins were the forerunners of motels. Each cabin was a unit by itself. We spent a week there and needless to say we had a wonderful time.