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A snowbound woman agrees to share a room with a strange man.
At the time the picture was taken, Emma was a 23 year old secretary and mom was a 23 year old bookkeeper.
The company was Western Foundry. The name was a misnomer. The company had been started as a foundry but was now much more. It had grown to be a complete metal fabrication company in its own right. They handled the whole process from the original designs, through the blue printing, pattern construction, molding, and final machining, and were now also into welding fabrication.
The US government had slowly started to modernize the military and in its first baby steps in that direction, Western Foundry had been the recipient of several fat government contracts.
Harley by virtue of his father's skills and knowledge was a 28 year old job supervisor and dad also worked in the foundry. He was 23 years old, but Harley had seen something in dad and had started to teach him all of the skills needed to be the complete tool and die man.
Turning the page in the album I beheld mom and Emma holding me in their arms at the foundry picnic in July of 1938 with dad standing proudly next to mom and Harley standing next to dad with his arm on dad's shoulder. I was three weeks old in that old fading photo.
There were many pictures of me as I grew from a baby into a crumb cruncher and entered my toddler years. Mom always said that I was a trial when I first learned to crawl. She spent most waking moments trying to corral me, and when I began to take my first toddling steps it only got worse.
According to mom a ritual had developed between Emma and Harley. Each day they would leave the house in the evening, Harley would pull his pen knife out of his watch pocket, cut a daisy from the hundreds growing along the sidewalk and around the porch as a border, and present it to Emma with a soft kiss. Then they'd walk up to the candy store and soda fountain on the corner, buy some fudge, chocolate, or in the Summer, ice cream cones, carry them across the street to the park, and sit and slowly devour them, all the while holding hands. It seemed that they were always holding hands.
During the week dad would ride to work with Harley in his brand new Ford sedan.
On Sundays all of us would walk across the street and cross through the park to attend church services at Trinity Church.
I can faintly remember the service on 7 December, 1941 because there was no service. The minister bade us all to return home to listen to a speech by President Roosevelt. It was then we all learned that the country was at war.
Dad's Irish was up!
Turning the page, I beheld dad standing in front of the house in his Marine Corps Dress Blue Uniform following Boot Camp at MCRD in San Diego.
Dad had been so mad the morning after the announcement by the president, he got on a bus, rode down to the Marine recruiter, and joined up. Mom always said that one look at his face when he came home and she knew that any argument was useless.
I was standing next to dad in the photo, dressed in a smaller uniform just like dad's, that mom and Emma had somehow cobbled together. Mama had her arm around dad's waist with a proud, brave, but worried smile on her face.
Rising from the sofa I moved to the shadowbox next to the fireplace. Harley had built it out of teak wood. In the box was the tricornered flag presented to mom at dad's memorial service, immediately under it his Corporal Chevron, a Purple Heart Medal with a bronze star, a Silver Star Medal, and an Expert Marksmanship Medal. At the bottom of the box, framed yellowing pages told the story: A Western Union Telegram informing us dad had been wounded in action, the citation announcing to the world that Cpl. Francis Xavier O'Riley had been awarded the Silver Star for his uncommon bravery in combat, and the final and most disturbing; the Western Union Telegram which struck fear in homes all across this great country: "The president regrets to inform you . . ."
Harley hadn't wanted to put the two telegrams in the box