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 Category:  Family Non-Fiction
  Posted: October 8, 2020      Views: 62

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Retired property insurance underwriter
Have too many cats. kind and sweet husband
HS in 1964
graduated from college in 1999 with a BS degree. (no it did not take me 30 years to get through college) I went 7 years in night school.

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Winnie's life
"Winnie" by Mary Vigasin

Agnus got hit by a bus. It was because of this that Nana came to live with us.

First, a little more about Agnus. She was a friend of Nana's and came each day to take care of us for six months after Ma died. I do not remember too much about her except she was a large woman. The only significant memory of Agnus, besides being hit by a bus, was that she would toss our favorite belongings away. If we were careless and left anything lying around, Agnus would toss it out. It was not a matter of just tossing it in the trash, the housing project back then had incinerators. The smoke bellowing out of the incinerator could be my brother's baseball cards or my coloring books and crayons.

So, when Agnus went to win at bingo in Revere Beach, she lost to the bus.

Truthfully, I barely knew who Nana was. I only had met her once that I know of. Dad brought me to the boarding house where she was a cook and housekeeper. My only remembrance of the visit is seeing Nana in a baking apron and the elaborate staircase in the brownstone on Beacon Hill, Boston.

Nana came to the apartment the following week, suitcase in hand, and would live with us for the next 20 years.

It took me the next 20 years to learn more about the woman known as Winnie.

Winnie was born in Fogo Island, Newfoundland and taught in a one room schoolhouse when she was 15. Her favorite pastime was reciting poetry which she would do often. It appears this was common entertainment in Fogo. These poems were not from the Romantic Poets, but folksy Newfoundland poems. Years later, when I met her nephew, he too would often recite the same poems.

She came to the United States from Montreal, Canada after she lost her young husband to an accident and a baby to diphtheria. According to her nephew, she did not have the funds to bury either one and was given a plot by family members. She, now a widow, had five children to raise. She arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts with five children in tow to find work.
Life in the States was not easy for Winnie as four of the children had to quit school in the 8th grade to support the family. She had one son who was a paranoid/schizophrenic and her youngest was killed in action during WWII.

Still having to help support a household, Winnie worked as a bookkeeper up to the age of 78.

Dad's favorite Winnie story was when he and his brothers were sitting in a bar and had not returned home for dinner and Winnie walked into the bar. Without saying a word, she placed an alarm clock on the table and walked out. Dad and his brothers got the message that they had to leave the bar immediately.
They were not the only ones who got the message, as half the bar suddenly cleared out as other men also got up to go home to mothers or wives.

Winnie, on entering our household had her handful with four children, and at that time she was 68 years old. First, there was 14-year-old Rose, who declared that since my mother did not like you, I do not like you either. John, the only boy, became an altar boy. Years later, he would say he eventually became the oldest altar "boy" at 18 because she would not let him quit.

She took charge of the younger girls, my sister Cathy and myself at that time 7 and 8 years old.
Every night, Nana would make us recite the Rosary. Cathy and I would rush to bed and pretend we were asleep.
However, Nana knew our game and would make us get out of bed and kneel to say the Rosary. After kneeling for 5 minutes, I would start moving by lying across the bed while kneeling or shift from one knee to another. I think also this was the first time I became a bullamaroo to her. My sister Cathy would pinch me or make faces to make me laugh. Nana would catch me and chastise me for not taking the Rosary seriously. Cathy then would put on such an angelic face; I expected a halo would appear over her head. Of course, then Cathy became Nana's favorite for her piety.

Having lived in Montreal, Winnie spoke fluent French. Nana tried to teach me; however, I really could not catch on. She might as well have been speaking a foreign language.


Author Notes
My earlier writing referred to the name, my Nana (Winnie) would call me a Bullamaroo.
From what I could gather that it was not an endearing name.
this is an actual picture of Nana (Winnie) I belief it was for her 85 birthday. The people pictured with her is her niece Winnie and her husband Bud.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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