Chapter XIII - Children Grow as do Dreams
My daughter Colette had become engaged, and at the end of 1938 she married.
Irma, Helen and Edward were still in high school. The two girls were very active in school activities. They worked on the school newspaper and were members of the dramatic club. Upon graduation Irma received the debating award and Helen the Thespian award, a dramatic award. I was very proud of their achievements.
Irma was to attend college and Helen still had one more year of high school. Irma decided to attend Montclair State Teacher's College and applied for the entrance examination. She had to write an essay on her life. She came to me and said she hadn't done anything worth writing about. She didn't know what to write. I said, "You have lived, haven't you?"
"Yes," she answered, "but I haven't done anything."
I gave her some suggestions. "You lived in Florham Park, you worked at the road stand, skated on ice in the basement and moved to Irvington where you went to a new school. Write about things you have done and the friends you have made. You have enough material to write a book."
Her essay was accepted as excellent and she passed the entrance examination, which permitted her to enroll in the school. The question now was money. I wasn't working. My husband's and Tony's salaries were just enough to live on.
Nicola suggested that Irma should get a job and not go to college. I still remembered Miss Wood's words, "Your daughters should go to college. They are intelligent and could do more than just settle for any kind of work."
If Irma were to go to college it meant I should get a job and pitch in. I applied for another job in the same line of work as I had done before and I was accepted. Luck would have it that I was able to earn enough money for the first semester. It amounted to $100.00 tuition plus $50.00 for books, $10.00 for the registration fee and $5.00 for a gym suit.
My work was seasonal and, although I did not lose my job, my work was ended.
Irma found a part-time job working Wednesday night and all day Saturday. She was able to pay for transportation and incidentals.
I went back to work when work resumed. I liked the extra money that I earned and I began to dream again about a place of our own. I have to give my children a lot of credit for the cooperation and work assistance they gave me in our constructive years. High school was divided into two sessions because of the large enrollment. That meant one or two of the older children would be home half the day. This included Lee who was now in high school. The two younger ones were in grammar school. The older children helped clean, iron and fix lunch for the two younger ones. That made it possible for me to work.
When Marie, my youngest, began kindergarten I felt lost and empty with no more young ones to care for. That intensified the desire to go back to work.
Also, I wanted a better living standard for my family. My children's cooperation made it easier for me to continue working.
Helen had no trouble entering Montclair State Teacher's College since she had maintained an average of 93 for the four years in high school.
Tony was progressing nicely in his carpenter's work and had gotten raises. He was making $20.00 a week when his chance arose. A new type of garage door was being introduced in the construction industry. They were called overhead doors.
Tony's employer sent two of his most experienced men to do a job. After two days they were unable to figure out how to do the job. My son asked his boss if he could have a chance at it. The boss was uncertain because he still considered Tony an apprentice. Tony noticed his boss's hesitation and said, "I feel I can do it. Give me Nicky to help me."
Nicky also was young and new at the game of construction. The employer decided he didn't have much to lose and gave the boys a chance. In half a day the two boys had the garage door up. After this job the boss recognized that the boys were worth more and raised their salary to $40.00 a week.
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