Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (7) – 1926 – 1927

Mary E. Wilson

Mary has settled in to life in America and truly enjoys school. That is the one high point in her life.

NOVEMBER, 1926

I had to go back to school as I was only 15 and my brothers and I were ridiculed because of our accent and dress. My poor brothers got into a lot of fights.

Because my father had spent the “landing money”, my mother could not buy us new clothes for a while. She worked in the Stratfield Hotel in the cafeteria and my Uncle Arthur got my father a job as a painter, which he hated.

I loved my school and adored Miss Blood, my teacher, because she was so helpful and kind to me. I was not used to boys and girls being in the same class because in the past I had always attended schools for only girls, so I was very shy and insecure. I did make a nice friend, however, named Polly Griffin, who lived next door to us and she was the one who really helped me adjust to a new country. She was going into nurse’s training in Bridgeport Hospital and she begged me to go into training with her. I still had my old ambition to be a nurse and at that time you were paid a small amount of money plus books and uniforms but my Mother would not allow it.

MARCH, 1927

On my 16th birthday, my Mother took me out of school and brought me to the General Electric Company. They gave me a job on one condition …. I pin up my hair. My Mother also got a job at General Electric and we worked from 7 AM to 5 PM for 5 1/2 days at $.25 an hour.

So ended my childhood, of which I had virtually none at all, as it was taken from me at an early date. Responsibility had been forced upon me at a very young age. I had never learned how to play and I felt cheated and angry because I so wanted to be a nurse.

I had joined the Christian Advent Church with Polly and our Sunday school teacher was named Lena Hilt. She was so nice and friendly to me.

There was so much quarreling in our home between my Mother and Father that we were not a happy family. Mother was a very dominating woman and my father, a weak man.

I started going to night school to lose my English accent and get used to American money. I learned how to type and was fascinated with American history. I think I attended evening school all my unmarried years and I really loved it. I took a practical nursing course which was conducted by Dr. Sprague. I loved it and was so proud the day I graduated.

Tomorrow, the next segment in the life of Mary E Wilson, an English girl who came to America as a child but grew up to achieve “the American Dream”.

Next week I’ll begin a week of letters from 1941. Lad has come home from Venezuela and is working at Producto in Bridgeport, Dan is dealing with the Draft Board in Alaska and Bridgeport, Ced and Dick are both still in Alaska but are concerned about their own draft status. Dave keeps Grandpa company in the Old Homestead in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

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