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I was born Feb. 3, 1917 at 7th and Holland in Erie, Pa during a horrible blizzard. The house was on north-east corner, a flat, and we lived upstairs. The house is no longer there. I had a sister Jean who was 3 yrs. old at the time.
My parents made clothes for customers in shops they set up in the attic. My father was a tailor and my mother a dressmaker. She would make the long wool skirts and my father made the jackets for the Victorian women.
When I was 9 mo. old, the moved to East 6th and Wayne and my father went to work for Ewing and Forsythe on State St (9 or 10 hundred block). They were a men’s store selling haberdashery suits, etc. When I was 1 ˝ years old, they bought the house at 217 East 8th Street for $3,000. My mother’s Uncle John of Dunkirk, NY gave her $2,000 of her inheritance[ii] [to help them buy the house].
I was tutored by Mary Purtle, 5th grade teacher at Jones School[xi] at 7th and Holland until I entered 3rd grade.
1st – Miss Sheridan (NA)
2nd – Ellen Purtle (NA)
3rd – Miss Calabrese
4-1 Mrs. Lachensky
4-2 Mrs. Slocum (awful)
5-1 Miss Shannahan (English) We now rotated between four teachers
5-2 Mary Purtle (Math)
6-1 Miss Runser (Geography)
6-2 Miss Hecker (History)
Principal – Miss O’Day, sister of Dr. O’Day who delivered me.
[i] History is undated but estimated to have been written in the late 1980s to early 1990s
[ii] In the text box is a letter dated March 18, 1918 from John O’Brien to his niece, Jennie O’Brien Lynch about giving her the money to buy the house.
[iii] Hill-Mill Dairy container from an eBay auction
[iv] Trolleys operated in Erie by the Erie Electric Motor Company starting in 1891. The company reorganized with the Buffalo and Lake Erie Traction Company in 1906. The company folded in 1935 when Betty was 18 years old. The Waldameer Trolley would also serve as transit to Trinity Cemetery, where the Lynches and O’Briens are buried, on West 8th and Peninsula Drive. Information from “Greater Erie Trolleys” by Kenneth C. Springirth. Trolley photos from Helen Kaufman.
[vi] The Boston Store closed in 1979, the building is now apartments and office space
[vii] Pulakos Chocolates are still in business at 26th & Parade Streets
[viii] Kraus’ Department Store is still operating at 7th and Parade
[ix] Kitty in the corner is a classic children`s game. 4 to 6 players stand at corners of the playing area, one player in the middle. 2 players try to make eye contact, and then switch places, while the middle player tries to capture a corner. Source: improvencyclopedia[dot]com
[x] Photo of Betty and Eileen with chickens from Barry Gray’s Picasa web page
[xi] Jones School is now an office building. Photo from Google Street View