The Canadian Graltons
The Canadian Graltons
A John Gralton Senior had a son John Gralton Junior and he was born about 1826 in the Parish of Creeve County Roscommon Ireland. John Gralton Junior first married Sarah Horan 19 April 1853 in St. Mary's Cathedral Kingston Canada. She was the daughter of William Horan and Catherine O'Brien.
The children of John & Sara:
John Gralton 02/10/1855 Kingston Ont. Canada
Sarah Gralton 07/10/1857 Kingston Ont. Canada 05/01/1913
William Gralton 17/07/1859 Kingston Ont. Canada 29/07/1859
He later married Mary Egan 27 May 1862 in St. Mary's Cathedral Kingston Canada. Mary's father was Michael Egan and his wife was Bridger Finn .
John died 12 March 1897 Kingston Ontario Canada and is buried St. Mary's Cemetery, Kingston. His occupation was Huckster/Grocer and Labourer.
Mary Egan was born about 1838 in Ireland and died 5 September 1868 in Kingston and is also buried in St. Mary's Cemetery Kingston.
John and Mary's children include: -
Joseph Patrick (Joe) Gratton 17/03/1863 Kingston 24/03/1942
Michael Gralton 27/09/1864 Kingston 26/02/1913
Peter Gralton 04/09/1867 Kingston 23/07/1868
It is not known exactly what was the connection between John Gralton Senior who died prior to 19 April 1853 and our Cornelius Gralton who died about 1848. I would guess they may have been brothers.
Henry Gralton was born about 1828 and John Gralton Junior was born about 1826.
THE GRATTONS OF 75 QUEEN STREET, KINGSTON, ONT.
by - - Diane Gratton, 1999
Where did my name "GRATTON" originate?
Growing up in Montreal (where I was born and still live) the name was considered French Canadian. Although I knew our ancestry was not French, but rather Irish, I knew nothing of our history. My Dad, Michael J. Gratton, born in Kingston, Ont. could offer no information. I remember him saying of his Dad, my grandfather Joseph P. Gratton (baptised Patrick Joseph Gralton) - that if a person could be born without parents, that was his father. Apparently my grandfather never spoke of his family. On the other hand my Dad said of his Mother, Mary Nobes, that she probably had a relative in every city in the country. During my research of records in Kingston, I'm of the opinion that she was related to nearly every family in the city of Kingston - related through her father John Nobes and his family - and her mother Ann Hagarty Regan - there were many Hagartys and through Ann's first husband, many Regans. My Dad had no cousins on his Dad's side (none of my grandfather's siblings married) - but he had dozens on his Mother's side.
The history I have put together is rather impersonal. It is based mainly on records I have found, and conclusions I have drawn - rather than on history passed down to me by my elders. For information regarding my first cousins (Grattons) and their families, I am dependent on what facts they have passed on to me.
My research developed from a single newspaper photo that appeared in the Kingston Whig Standard on the occasion of my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary ( which I attended as an 8 year old) in 1938. I initially started this work in the early 1980's - and have worked in spurts - some work periods and long periods of rest. By the time I started there were only two of my Dad's siblings still living and they could provide me with no information. These two have long since passed on. I am now the eldest living of the Grattons.
Our great-grandfather John Gralton's marriage record in 1853 in Kingston indicates he was the son of John Gralton and Sarah Farrell from Ireland, Co. Roscommon, Parish of Creeve.
Who was this man - John Gralton (approx.1826 to March 12, 1897)? No one really knows. The first Canadian record of him was his first wedding in 1853, when he was approximately 26 years of age. When did he arrive in Kingston??? Why??? and How??? These are unanswered questions. Did he come alone or were there others?. -- all unanswered questions. As is the question whether or not he had siblings and family left in Ireland when he emigrated.
I have uncovered two other Grattans at that time from Amherst Island (near Kingston), Irish Catholic farmers, one Daniel about 4 years older than John, and Alexander about 9 years older. Examining the 1871 census records for Amherst Island I have found their families, Alexander with wife and 5 children; Daniel with wife and 3 children - plus an older lady with the surname Grattan - who possibly was his mother. Her first name was Agnes which is not a name that figured in the family of John Gralton. I can only assume they were not his immediate family. (In the 1871 census my great-grandfather's name was also spelled Grattan).
I have found in the book by Edward MacLysaght "Surnames of Ireland" the name GRALTON with the following entry: "The prevalence of this name in Counties Leitrim and Roscommon but nowhere else, indicates that it's origin is some indigenous Irish surname beginning with Mag-R, but if that is so I have yet to trace this. I do not find GRALTON as an English toponymic".
An article from the new London Gazeteer, 1826 - indicates that at that time, Roscommon, a county of Connaught, was bounded on the East by Longford and Westmeath, South by Galway, West by Mayo, North by Sligo and North East by Leitrim.
The county was 50 English miles long and 37 miles broad. It was flat open country, in some places sprinkled with rocks, in many interrupted by bogs and but little diversified by hills. The river Shannon divides it from Longford and Westmeath, and the river Suck from Galway. It had excellent pastures. The population in 1826 was given as 207,777.
>From readings I understand that due to the Great Famine of the 1840's and the resulting deaths & emigration, the population of Roscommon was reduced by over 30 percent.
I have searched the Griffiths Valuation Records of 1856 and 1857. Between 1848 and 1864, all of the land of Ireland was surveyed for the purpose of establishing rates of local taxes to be paid by each landholder or leaseholder. For County Roscommon the survey was conducted in 1857/58, and for County Leitrim the survey was conducted in 1856. These records were similar to a census. By this time my great-grandfather had long since left Ireland.
From what I have found Roscommon had only three GRALTONs on record, a James, a Laurence and a Patrick. Leitrim about a dozen and a half. I did not find the name in the adjacent counties of Longford or Sligo. Certainly the name was not a common one. I did not find the surname GRATTON and found only one occurrence of GRATTAN in Roscommon and one in Leitrim.
The Griffiths Valuation did not list any Graltons in the Parish of Creeve - but rather in the Parishes of Aughrim and Killukin - which from looking at parish maps are quite closeby. They are in the north-east part of County Roscommon - and the Graltons I have found in County Leitrim (to the east of Roscommon) are in Parishes on the south- western side of that county - which might indicate a very small pocket for the name - and possibly relationships of the families. I have additional research to do into this topic.
Great-grandfather John married twice - both times in Kingston - and had six children, two surviving children from each marriage. His two wives both died with the birth of their third child. One of his sons, Joe (my grandfather) was the only one who married and had children.
I have seen birth and death records of my Grandfather, his brother Michael and his half sister Sarah (my Dad referred to her as Aunt Sadie). There was another son of John (oldest by the first wife) who survived infancy. I have found his birth record - and a 1871 census record when he was 15 years old - but beyond that I have found no further records of him.
A question about my great-grandfather John Gralton that eludes me - is that at the time of his death my Dad was about 5-1/2 and his brother John was nearly 8 and according to the Kingston registers they lived on the same street, just about opposite their grandfather. They knew nothing about him - why not? I don't expect they would remember much - but at least that they had a grandfather. According to my Dad it was as if John Gralton had never existed. My Dad didn't even know his grandfather's name.
I am the oldest female grandchild of Joe and Mary Gratton. I had only one older male cousin Johnny (who passed away in 1994) and he knew no more about the family tree than I did. Thus in my research I have been completely on my own.
My initial search started at St. Mary's Cathedral in Kingston where my Grand-parents were married (according to the 1938 newspaper clipping). I didn't know what I was looking for - but I really hit a windfall. Two generations of Grattons had been born and lived in Kingston, all my Dad's siblings and both his parents and their siblings.
I was 16 when my Grandmother died in 1946.. We had always visited Kingston a few times a year and she visited us in Montreal frequently so I knew her quite well. I do not remember having long conversations with her as she was very deaf and it was difficult to converse. As a child I remember her once telling me something was "wrong" with the way our surname was spelled. My research has revealed many spellings -
GRALTON, GRATTON, GRATTAN, GRAUTON, GRALDON, GRANTON, GRATTEAU.
The name as it exists presently is GRATTON. All my generation were born and baptized with this spelling. In my Dad's generation, with the exception of Uncle Joe GRATTON, all their birth and baptismal records have the name spelled as GRATTAN, Throughout their lives they used the spelling GRATTON. All the other spellings I found occurred in my grandfather's and great-grandfather's generations. From all I've found I feel quite sure the original name was GRALTON. I have also uncovered in an 1871 census record that my great-grandfather John Gralton was unable to write - which might account for the confusion with the name. But despite his inability to write, education of his children seems to have been a high priority, (as it has often been with many Irish families) as it was for my grandfather who in turn passed this on to his children. The result is that all my first-cousins with the surname Gratton completed university or equivalent education as have also their children..
Scanning church records and graveyard monuments has provided some interesting observations. I say observations as I have no way to verify my findings and interpretations. One interesting item, but not related to our family, was the church records in Kingston for the year 1847 - there was a heavy influx to Kingston of Irish immigrants - and the records for June, July and August for that year show 38 pages of recorded deaths, some by individual name, others merely as groups - a very sad time in history.
Grandpa Gratton's family lived on Wellington St. in Kingston from 1881 to 1897 - and Grandma Gratton's family (the Nobes) lived on the other side of Wellington St. from 1867 to 1896. Grandpa was 24 and Grandma was 21 when they married. I assume they met as neighbours.
After they married they lived for a few years on Union St and on Queen St. - and in 1895 they moved back to a house on Wellington St. After the death of Grandpa's father they moved into his house. Around 1909 their address was given as 222 Wellington St. at the corner of Queen St. This is the address of a corner store which figured in the family for some years. Above the store is an apartment with the address of 73 Queen St. The Joseph Grattons are listed in registers as having had the address of either 222 Wellington or 73 Queen for the years between 1909 and 1912.
In 1912-13 they built the house at 75 Queen St. which is the one I knew as my grandparents Gratton's home. It belonged to the family until the early 1950's when it was sold by my Aunt Elizabeth after both my grandparents had died and all the other members of the family had married and had long since left Kingston. John and Mike came to Montreal. Jim, Wilf, Mary and later, Elizabeth chose Toronto. Joe lived in a number of towns in Ontario (Woodstock, London and others towns) and in his later years he returned to Kingston. His wife Helen was a Kingstonian and her family were still there. The youngest Albert took up residence in Cornwall.
I remember the house at 75 Queen St. very well. It was two houses from the corner of Wellington. It was a red brick house set back several feet from the sidewalk and had a large veranda and a small front lawn. It was the only house on the street with a veranda - the rest were flat-fronted. In the rear of the house was a yard with a high wooden fence. I don't think the yard was ever used - the ground was overgrown with tall grass and wild hollyhocks On the groundfloor there was a large double parlor, living and dining room - and a large kitchen across the back of the house. The second floor had five bedrooms and a bathroom. Then there was an attic with two large rooms. It was a really interesting house for a young visitor as I often was. Grandma had the large bedroom in the front and it was very bright. Grandpa's room was on the side of the house and the door was always closed. On the few times the door was opened for some reason or other I just remember the room being dark - I don't think I was ever inside. My cousin Johnny used to talk about a large roll-top desk in the room which fascinated him.
Another fascination was the staircase that led from the first to the second floor. Actually there were two staircases. The first was from the front hall, the other was from the kitchen. They came from opposite directions and met at a small landing and then turned 90 degrees and shared the last few stairs to the second floor. The back stairs from the kitchen were never used but rather served to store groceries and miscellaneous.There was a curtain blocking off the stairs at the small landing. My cousin Carolyn remembers playing on the stairs when one of the neighbor boys ran right through the curtain. I understand that a few persons not realizing what was behind this actually leaned against it and had the misfortune of falling down the stairs and landing on top of the groceries. To my knowledge no one was ever injured.
After my Grandpa died in 1942 (I was 12) Grandma and Aunt Elizabeth were the only family left at 75 Queen. Grandma was in failing health the last few years of her life. They rented a few rooms to supplement their income.
My very last visit to the house was in the fall of 1949 or 1950 shortly before it was sold. My Grandmother had passed away and Elizabeth was living there alone. She still had some rooms rented. I was in Kingston for a McGill-Queen's football game. I tried to reach Elizabeth by phone but she wasn't home. I was with another gal and after the game we had a few hours to spare before the evening dance and then we were taking a late train back to Montreal. We decided to walk down to 75 Queen. The lights were on. No one answered when we rang the bell. The front door was unlocked - so in we went. I recognized lots of furniture on the ground floor - it felt like home - so we sat for a while in the living room and then we availed ourselves of the washroom. There was a new bathroom on the ground floor- and I did notice lots of unfamiliar articles in the kitchen and bathroom.
We left the house after freshening up and took off for the dance. After returning to Montreal I found out that the house had been somewhat renovated and that the entire
first floor had been rented out. Elizabeth was living on the second floor. We had spent a few hours in someone else's home. Never heard whether or not they ever realized that they had had innocent uninvited strangers in their quarters.
There was a grocery store at 222 Wellington with an apartment above (73 Queen) which was associated with the Grattons for many years and no one seems to know whence it came. Looking through Kingston Registers I think it must have originally belonged to Grandma Gratton's maternal grandmother (Ann Manning Hagerty) and was passed down to her mother (Anne Hagerty Regan Nobes) and then eventually to Grandma Gratton herself.
The registers indicate the following for that address:
1855 - Mrs Ann (Manning) Haggerty - Grocer
1857 - same - Grocer, Wagon Maker
1865 - Mrs Anne (Hagerty) Regan - Grocer
1909-12 - Mrs. Joseph Gratton - Grocer
Some years it appears to have been run by others -
1857-83 - Mrs. Julia Dunn - Grocer
1884-92 - Alice McCummiskey - Grocer and Confection
1894 there appeared to be two grocers -
one at 222 W - (Dunn) and one at 220 W - (McCummiskey) 1895-97 - T. Dunn
1898-1907 - Julia (widow of T. Dunn)
1912-13 - James E. Hutchison
I did not follow it beyond this date.
I remember this corner store when I was a child - but it no longer belonged to the Grattons. At that time I seem to remember it as a tinsmith or an electroplating shop.
As a youngster I played on Queen St. and had friends there, Kally and Frankie Norris, Anna and Ethel Cloran from up Queen near Bagot. We never ventured very far away - back and forth between houses, or over to the Grocery/Candy store "Harkness" on the far side of Wellington and Queen.
On one of the other corners was a soda-biscuit factory, Carruthers. On another corner was a gasoline station with a Brewers Retail Outlet behind it. The fourth corner was the store at 222 Wellington.
The Brewers Retail provided some amusement particularly on Fridays and Saturdays. Many customers would come in from the countryside with their trucks to pickup their large quantities of provisions for the coming week or more. There would belots of people and lots of hustle and bustle.
Queen St. was on the route to Barrifield the army post. During the war early 40s, one would see many soldiers walking along the street. On the odd occasion of an early morning one might find a soldier sleeping on one of the lawns because he had not made it back to the barracks the night before - possibly a few brews too many.
I know I never walked down Wellington St. where the Grattons had lived in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was probably during the 1990's during my research that I learned that they had lived on this street. No one ever mentioned it when I was young.
I have since driven down the street. The original houses with even numbers are still there, those with odd numbers have been demolished. The houses still standing are two-storied grey stone buildings, flat fronted, plain but very presentable and in good condition from outward appearances.
75 Queen since being sold about 1950 has had several owners. It was at one time a Turkish bath - and is presently a tailor repair shop. The large front veranda has been removed and the red brick fascade has been painted over.
Harkness grocery, Carruthers soda-biscuit factory and the Brewers Retail are no longer. 222 Wellington is still a store - much more upscale - I think an antique shop.
I have fond memories of Grandma Gratton (all my cousins called her Momma and my Grandpa Gratton they called Poppa - I think I was the only one to call them Grandma and Grandpa). She visited us many times in Montreal. I think she had a really soft spot for my Dad. She was a small lady and as I mentioned previously very deaf. She looked quite fragile and I always considered her an "old" lady. She had that appearance compared to my Granny Myles (my Mom 's mother) - who, although the same age, dressed and looked much younger. I seem to remember her always offering a helping hand to Grandma Gratton. Grandma was a really sharp lady. I was told she taught school before she married - and she was mentally alert even in her later years when she was in failing health. She had many friends who would come to the house when we visited Kingston and also would invite us to their homes. She loved to play cards and was always organizing a card game. She would always manage to find something in the house as a prize for the winner. She usually uncovered some "treasure" from a brown wooden linen cupboard that stood in the hall at the top of the stairs - maybe a cake of soap or a bottle of eau de cologne - which she would wrap and give to the winner with pleasure.
She was also very handy with her hands and could sew, knit and crochet. She made several patchwork quilts for the older granchildren. My cousin Carolyn and I each had one, sort of old fashioned dolls in profile with long shirts and bonnets. I seem to remember seeing another one she made of either cats or dogs but I don't remember to whom it belonged. As a youngster I remember receiving hand knitted doll clothes - maybe a little sweater and bonnet or a pair of booties with a penny or a nickle in each bootie. For many years I had a tiny (4 - 5 inches) celluloid doll which she had dressed with a cape and hood made from cotton wool and she had sewed fine red ribbon all around the edges. I still have a small (about 1-1/2 to 2 inches diameter) woven Indian basket which she gave me. She lined it with a blue, yellow and pink crocheted liner and there probably was a nickle or a dime in it. Other favorite gifts at Christmas or birthdays from her would be hard candy sticks or a cake of soap with a decal that would not wash away.
She was also a very good cook and what I remember most was the bread she made and particularly the little individual bread rolls.
She loved a picnic - and was always ready to pack a lunch to go to Picton or Jones Falls or Gananoque - or even to MacDonald Park in Kingston on Lake Ontario. She always packed a picnic for us when we were returning to Montreal - in the 1930's and early 1940's before the advent of the 401 - the trip back to Montreal (about 175 miles) was probably at least 5+ hours. My Dad used to tell the story of my Mother on one occasion driving back in 4-1/4 hours which was just completely unheard-of at that time.
I attended Grandma's funeral going to Kingston by train with Aunt Marie and Uncle John. My Dad was in the hospital and very sick and was unable to attend. My Mom was only able to tell him about her demise the night before the funeral and she then took the night train to Kingston - and we both returned to Montreal within hours after the funeral.
I must have spent more time with my Grandma than with my Grandpa - as I do not remember him as well. He was quite severe in appearance and I do not remember him smiling very often. My cousin Carolyn remembers him as a gentle man - he used to visit her home in Toronto when she was young. I do remember him going for long walks. He had worked for the James Richardson Grain Company his whole life from about the age of 15 - and was the supervisor of the Grain Elevator for many years. Even until almost the end he would go down to the elevator - it was his second home - and that was probably where he went on his walks. He apparently was a moody man - and although I am sure he loved all his children, apparently he had some he favored above the others - my Dad Mike was one of the favored as were Mary and also Joe - I have heard John and Elizabeth and Ab were less favored and Wilf and Jim had the temperaments to stand on their own. My Mom told me that Grandpa died in 1942 of kidney failure, euremia poisoning. I do not remember attending his funeral - but I do know that my Mom and Dad were in Kingston when he died.
Grandma and Grandpa are buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Kingston in a plot belonging to Grandma's mother (Anne Hagarty Regan Nobes). Their names have never been engraved on the monument which has the large letters REGAN.
If you look at the birthdates of Grandma and Grandpa's children you will notice some interesting points. When Albert was born, Joe was 3, Elizabeth 5, Mary 7 - then Wilf was 13 - and Jim was 17, Mike 20 and John 22. They covered a number of years. It was almost like two families with Uncle Wilf in between. I think there were years when they were all at home.
I am friendly with Gladys Devereux in Plattsburgh, N.Y. whom I see a few times each summer. Her mother (Martha Nobes Lappan) and Grandma Gratton (Mary Nobes Gratton) were first cousins and they were very close. Martha often visted Mary in Kingston with her children and Mary often visited Martha in Schenectady, N.Y. Gladys . is about the same age as Aunt Elizabeth and visiting Kingston became friendly with the younger members of the family and knew Uncle Wilf very well during his years at medical school - a friendship that lasted until he passed away. She also became very friendly with Wilf's children, Elizabeth and Barbara particularly during their skating years, and Barbara remains friendly with her to this day.
I know that my Mom and Dad were well acquainted with Gladys' older sister and her husband, Florence Lappan Carty and Bill Carty, who lived in Pittsfield, Mass. Florence was at least 15 years older than Gladys, more my Dad's age.
Gladys has told me a number of stories about her visits to Kingston as a youngster. One thing that seems to stand out in her memory was the house was always open to friends and there was a lot of music in the house - my Dad and Elizabeth played the piano - and Wilf, Mary and Albert sang and Albert was also handy on the drums. Uncle John was not musically inclined and I do not know whether Uncle Joe was or not.
Nothing seemed to disturb Grandma Gratton, the more the merrier. Apparently Florence liked to visit and bring along a couple of girlfriends because of her male cousins, John, Mike and Jim.
There were other cousins of my Dad's who visited Montreal when I was growing up - a George Powell from Vancouver - I don't know where he fits in but it must have been through the Nobes side as Gladys also knew him. Then there were Gormleys from Chicago - these may have been related to Grandma Gratton's sister Ann Nobes Byrne who lived in Chicago - or through Grandma's mother Anne Hagarty Regan Nobes on the Regan (her first husband) side. I am not too sure where all these people fitted in but I do know they were cousins of my Dad. Gladys and her first husband Ronald Fuller lived in Plattsburgh where he managed a hotel and we often stopped by to visit them, as they would visit us when they were in Montreal.
MY DAD, MIKE GRATTON (1891-1957) AND HIS BROTHER, JOHN (1889-1955)
by Diane Gratton 1999
John and Mike were the eldest of a family of eight, 6 boys and 2 girls, the youngest being 22 years younger than John. They were the two oldest grandchildren of a Potato Famine immigrant to Canada, John Gralton, Parish of Creeve, Roscommon, Ireland. They knew nothing about their grandfather, not even his name ( I found his name during my research). Other than an unmarried aunt and uncle they knew of no other Gralton/Gratton relatives either in North America or Ireland. They knew they were Irish but ancestry did not seem important to them.
John Henry (John) and Michael Joseph (Mike) were born in Kingston, Ont. two years apart and died in Montreal, Que. two years apart at the ages of 65/66. They played sports together in their youth, they spent their working years in the same company, and for many years they lived on the same street in Montreal. They both retired from work due to illnesses. Although many aspects of their lives mirrored one another, they had very individual personalities - they epitomized brotherly love - but could they ever argue and call each other names - but I'm sure they never went to bed without making up and kind words - although I really believe they never apologized. They were the ultimate in brothers and really loved one another.
I was 25 when Uncle John died and 27 when my Dad passed away and at that stage of my life was not particularly interested in family history. I almost felt it was too personal to ask questions. I know very little of their early life other than hilarious stories they told about their school years at Regiopolis College (all boys) in Kingston and some of the characters there, both teachers and students - the Gallaghers, the Sullivans, the Oldfins, the MacNamaras, etc. - mostly descendants of Irish Potato Famine immigrants. They could tell the stories over and over and laugh as if it was the first time telling the tale. In their teens they were both hockey players and apparently fairly good. They were 19 and 21 when playing for the Kingston Frontenacs the team won the OHA (Ontario Hockey Association ) junior championship. The OHA was a forerunner of the NHL (National Hockey League). I still have my Dad's gold watch which was presented to the team members by the Citizens of Kingston. Uncle John's watch still exists with his grandson. I don't know how long they played hockey but their love of sports never left them.
Uncle John served in the Canadian Army during World War I. I don't know how long and in what capacity, but I do know he went overseas. My Dad did not serve.
My Dad joined the firm of James Richardson's & Son, grain merchants, about 1911, in Kingston and spent his entire working career with them. I don't know when Uncle John joined the same company, probably after the war, but he spent the balance of his working years with them. Mike eventually became Export Sales Manager, and John was the Domestic Sales Manager. They both had to retire in their mid-40s due to illness.
Not sure when John came to Montreal (he came first) and it was a transfer from Richardsons that later brought Mike here. Daddy came to Montreal for a visit before moving permanently. John was staying with Kingston friends at a boarding house - which was common in those days for single men. Uncle John took Daddy off to a photographer's studio to see the picture of his landlady's daughter which was being exhibited in a window. Daddy admitted the girl of 13 was very pretty but why would he at the age of 25 be interested in a 13 year old? I don't know when he actually met her and started to date her but 12 years later he married the girl in the picture, my Mother, Celestine (Celly) Myles. I do know that my Mother had another boy friend from the age of 14 until at least a year before she married my Dad. I wish I knew more about their courtship - but I just never asked - probably thought it was too personal.
Mike and John played golf over the years and belonged to the same golf club. Apparently my Dad was fairly conservative on the course whereas Uncle John was very flamboyant - and used language not customary on golf courses of those days as well as throwing clubs and even breaking them. He had quite a temper.
At the time of my birth, Daddy and Uncle John lived a few blocks apart. The day I was born there was lots of snow (December 9) and in those days the streets were not well cleaned. As a matter of fact many people put their cars away for the winter as did my Dad. John was still running his car that winter - so when the call came for my Dad to go to the hospital (my Mom had already been there a couple of days) he rushed off to John's house for a ride. When he got there John handed him a snow-shovel - the car had to be dug out of deep snow. You can imagine the exchange of heated words as my Dad refused the shovel and rushed to get a taxi.
During World War II, 1945 to be precise, housing was very difficult to obtain. Uncle John owned a small cottage where he lived with his wife and son. We did not own but rented a six-room duplex. The building was sold and the new owner decided to move in - meaning we had to look for new quarters. My parents looked for a place for months and as moving day approached we still had not found a place to live. Uncle John offered us a room - two beds for my Mom and Dad and me - my Mom and I had to share one single width bed. But we were not allowed to bring along our little Pekinese dog Ching. Well we had no other choice but to accept the offer, feeling quite certain it would only be for a short time. All our furniture went off to storage and we three moved in - and we sneaked in our little dog. It was as if Ching knew he was unwanted, poor thing never made a noise or barked, spending most of his time under a bed and only coming out to eat or to be put in a canvas bag when it was time to take him out for a walk. We were there three weeks before Uncle John finally found out about the dog - and was fast to admit that if we could fool him for three weeks, he certainly was not about to have us get rid of Ching. Animals sure are smart.
The short period of time we lived in one room extended to a full year before we found a new duplex. Spending a year together with these brothers, both retired and at home all day, was quite something. Meals were particularly hectic. Uncle John sat at the head of the table and Daddy sat to his right. Uncle John had a slight stammer in his speech and when he would be asking to have food passed there was considerable confusion and he would usually end up pointing and laughing. His fingers were rather crooked so that caused more confusion. Mike - "For God's sake John what do you want?" John - "When I use my right finger I want butter, the left finger means bread" - or something along those lines. One day Daddy arrived at the table with a knife he had improvised; he had removed the short bone handle and replaced it with a wooden handle about 12-15 inches long. Mike "Now when you want food just point with your knife" - and believe me Uncle John always had the knife beside him - he sort of treasured it. We had lots of laughs at our meals.
When we found our new duplex, guess where it was - on the same street - John was at 840 Hartland and Mike was at 954. When we finally moved they missed being together and probably saw each other daily. One would walk to the other's house, they would visit and laugh and then argue and one would leave in a huff. If Daddy arrived back from Uncle John's after such a session, he would call him all kinds of names and promise he never wanted anything to do with such an impossible person - however, a few hours later, he'd say to my Mom he thought maybe he should go off and see John - off he'd go and come back with everything patched up. The same was true of Uncle John. These guys were great - but can you imagine living in the same house with them for a year? My Mom and my Aunt were very patient and tolerant - to the point when we did leave, Aunt Marie invited us back if we had any difficulties - these also were great ladies!!!
John and Mike developed serious health problems in their forties; Daddy had a severe heart problem and uncontrollable diabetes. Uncle John also had heart problems and diabetes, neither as serious as my Dad's - but he was prone to depression. My Dad on the other hand was a very positive person and very clear of mind and never troubled by depression. They were always available to each other when the needs arose.
One aspect of their lives that differed vastly was music. John was not musically inclined whereas Mike could make a piano talk - particularly with ragtime and fast music. In his early twenties in Kingston he sometimes filled-in for an absent piano player for silent movies. His theme was a Scott Joplin piece called "Maple Leaf Rag". At one time I also could play it quite well but over the years I have become lazy and negligent. I remember my Dad sitting at the piano for hours.
As a result of Mike and John's closeness, my cousin Johnny (John's son) six years my senior and an only child as am I, became very close - a friendship that grew as we got older and he became more like my brother and confidant - I could discuss almost anything with him and he was impartial in his advice. He never missed calling me on my birthday - December 9th - his was the 10th. How I have missed him since he passed away sudddenly at the age of 70.!!!! As an aside to the golf years of our fathers - many years after they both died, Johnny and I compared the clubs we were using - both sets had belonged to our Dads - the clubs were identical, only that Uncle John's were for a left-handed player and my Dad's were for a right-handed player - whereas the strange part of it was that my Dad was left-handed and John was right-handed.
My Dad took sick when I was only 5, so I always remember him at home. He had a great influence on my life and I was very close to him. He was unable to do for me what many of my friends' fathers did for them - but what I missed because he was physically unable to exert himself - he made up by providing me with intellectual stimulation - he was always around to help with my homework and to encourage me with school or work - he was always there to discuss whatever needed to be discussed. He taught me all kinds of values and how to handle money. He did his best to instill self-confidence in me and to impress upon me that one should always set goals. Reach for the moon and do your best, but if things didn't turn out exactly as you had hoped, accept what happens. I remember him as a selfless man, always positive with a great smile and laugh. He loved all his family dearly and I believe from what I've heard that he was the peace-maker among his siblings. He loved to party when he could, he was no saint and he too had a temper. I also remember Uncle John, hot of temper, but very kind and generous, a very devout Catholic and a great volunteer worker around the church and particularly around the baseball field with youngsters. Baseball was his passion. He also had a great love of family - and the sun rose and set on his only son, my cousin Johnny who also turned out to be a great person and gentle man.
I am proud to have been the apple of my father's eye, niece of John and cousin of Johnny. ---- P.S. I do have other first cousins on the Gratton side who are likewise great.
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