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Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Story - Mary Elizabeth Rohman McGuire - Part 1

My father actually spent quite a bit of time with his grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Rohman McGuire.  She apparently did not really like him though.  That may sound like a rather unkind remark but it is rather telling about the family dynamic in the household in which he grew up in.  While I do think that he grew up in a very loving, Irish Catholic New Yorker, middle class family who lived in the suburbs of New York City out on Long Island, the members liked to laugh, crack jokes, and even pull some practical jokes, sometimes at the expense of others.  I suppose it was a way to express themselves and their personalities.   My father might have also had a bit more energy than the rest of the kids in the family.

Imagine sitting around a dining room table with two witty parents, two comedic older brothers, a somewhat reserved sister, and the grandmother who visited frequently and stayed for a while.  My dad was rather stuck in the middle.  The reason why I bring my father up is because of his interaction with Mary, his grandmother.  Mary shook like a leaf apparently.  My dad would pick up his glass at the table and mimic her by shaking his too.  Now, that did not go over very well.   He would say that his older brothers put him up to it.  Do I believe that?  Probably, but which brother put him up to it is something that we may never know.  I wish that I could have been a fly on the wall at that dinner table!

It seems extremely likely to me that Mary suffered from Parkinson's Disease or something like it in her older years.   By the time my father was born, she was 67 years old.  By the time my father was mimicking her shaking, she was probably into her 70s.  Mary ultimately passed away of colon cancer which so dominantly runs through that part of my family line from Mary to her son/my grandfather, Frank, and to her grandson/my father who passed away in 2004.

Mary Elizabeth Rohman was born at 240 Delancy Street, Manhattan, New York on 20 Nov. 1878 to Joseph and Frances Rohman.  It is not really clear what Frances' given maiden name was as I've seen it transcribed all sort of ways.  To me it looks like a German name that starts with an "L".  Mary lived a pretty long life.  She passed away on 25 Dec. 1956 in New York.  Based on what I know, Mary spent her older years living with her adult children - Marion, Cecilia, John, and Frank.

On September 4, 1903, Mary married Francis Joseph McGuire in Manhattan.  He did not turn out to be the best husband.  Frank seems to have stuck around until after 1910 and even until all of his children had been born.  By his 1917-18 WWI Draft Registration, he lists his father, Charles McGuire, as the nearest relative at 528 Hudson Street, Manhattan.  That's where he indicates he is living too.  What is odd about this is that he did not list his wife.  Every other registration that I've looked at indicates the person's wife if the man was married.  Frank did not list Mary.

So what happened between Frank and Mary?  Well, the rumor and comment that was always made was that Frank had a drinking problem and took off to the "high seas". Talk about a rift in the family.  This was a big one.  I wonder if this was why my grandfather was never very connected to his McGuire side of the family except to his own siblings.

In 1910, Mary and Frank were living with their two living young sons, Frank and John, at 105 Christopher Street, Manhattan, New York.  Their first son, Charles, had passed away at age 3 in 1908.  I can see where other McGuire Family is living nearby on Hudson Street.  This is no surprise as they lived in Greenwich Village, a mecca for Irish Catholics.  Oh....but....Mary was not Irish.

To be continued........

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