I’m told I look and act a lot like my aunt Sally. We all called her Auntie. I miss her so much sometimes it hurts.
Auntie was born January 30, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. In the 1940 census, she was aged 6 living at 2431 Bennett in Dearborn, Michigan. Her parents were Charles and Helen (Oakes) Wilson. Her brother, Charles, was 4. My mother Mary was born in 1942. She went to high school at Dearborn High School, when it was located at Mason and Garrison Streets. She graduated in 1952.
She secretly married Melvin Jones on July 4, 1960. Then, on July 16, she served as my mother’s maid of honor, still keeping the secret!
It must have been hard, this interracial marriage in 1960. She loved him so much and after Uncle Melvin’s death in 1995 she kind of drifted away until she had to be placed in a nursing home because of dementia.
This is how I will remember her, long hair (which Melvin loved and she never cut until he died), rosy cheeks, loving arms. Oh dear, I’m about to cry writing this.
John Alfred Wilson was born March 25, 1905 in Pittsburg Township, Ontario in Frontenac County. He was the fourth child and third son of John and Mary (Thompson) Wilson. In 1911, Jack was aged 6 and living with his parents John (37) and Mary (38), his brothers Hugh (9), Cecil (8), Charles (4 – my grandpa), William (3), his sisters Marjorie (5), Theresa (1), and his grandmother Mary (Gibson) Wilson (74). He is listed as Swedish because his grandfather, John Wilson, came to Canada from Sweden.
In 1921, Jack was 16 and living with his parents John (47) and Mary (49), his brothers Cecil (18), Charles (14), William (12), his sisters Marjorie (15), Theresa (11), and his grandmother Mary Wilson (84).
At age 24, in April 1929, Jack passed through Detroit on his way to Dearborn to join his brother Hugh who was living on Park Street. In the 1930 census, Hugh was rooming on Park Street and was a salesman at a creamery. My grandfather Charles had arrived in 1928 and in 1930 was living on Columbia Street in Dearborn and was a truck driver at a creamery. Jack, in the 1930 census, was employed as a crane operator at a foundry. He was living with Fred and Mary Curtis on W. Lafayette in Detroit.
On September 2, 1930, Jack married Bessie Winnifred Eastwood (her mother’s maiden name was Curtis). In the 1940 census taken on April 11th, Jack and Winnie were living on Military Street in Detroit and he was a crane operator at a brass factory. According to this census, Jack had completed 8th grade while Winnie had completed 2 years of high school. In 1935, they had been living in the same place.
On April 29, 1940, Jack’s mother died at the farm in Pittsburg Township. On May 16, 1940, Winnie gave birth to a son in Detroit. The family moved back to Canada soon after to run the farm. On September 23, 1945, they had a daughter. According to William J. Patterson’s Lilacs and Limestone: An Illustrated History of Pittsburgh Township, 1787-1987, Jack won Farmer of the Year in 1963 from the Frontenac Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Jack died June 11, 1987 and Winnie died in February 2001.
Melvin Jones was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 5, 1926 to Charles and Marjorie (Saunders) Jones. His parents had been married in Mississippi and moved around between Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit. Melvin was the third of eight children.
In a letter from Marjorie’s mother, Emma Saunders, dated December 15, 1929 from Vicksburg, Mississippi, Emma says, “Your uncle Clarence and my cousin Joe Reed has killed a many cat. Your papa says all boys will kill cats.” Emma then tells a story about what her sister Grace once did to a cat. She concludes that section with, “So I guess that is where Melvin got killing cats.” Yikes! What kind of boy kills cats at the age of 3?
Anyway, in 1930, the family, including Charles, Marjorie, little Marjorie, Melvin, Earl and Gwendolyn lived on Milford Avenue in Detroit and Charles was a real estate agent. In the 1940 census, the family lived in Chicago on South Park Avenue. Four more children had been born to Charles and Marjorie (Donald, Adelbert, Jacquelyn, and Vaughan).
Melvin married and had a daughter. He and his wife divorced. Melvin and my Aunt Sally Wilson married on July 4, 1960. Sally kept the marriage hidden from her family until after my parents’ own wedding on July 16, 1960, in which Sally was the maid of honor (see page header; Sally is to the right of the bride, my mother Mary).
Uncle Melvin worked at the Chrysler Tank Plant in Detroit and was very active in the UAW Region 1B. He and Aunt Sally took many trips to the conventions around the country.
After retirement, Uncle Melvin and Aunt Sally moved from Detroit to Williamston, Michigan. He died July 15, 1995. Aunt Sally died July 9, 2009.
A special place to my family has always been my Great-Grandfather’s farm in Pittsburgh Township, Ontario. I just found out from Wikipedia that Pittsburgh is a former township and became part of Kingston in 1998. The farm was located on R.R. 2 near the Howe Island Ferry Road/Joyceville Road. In the last few years, I’ve learned through Google Maps that the farmhouse, barn and outbuildings were torn down.
I did a post in 2008 about an architectural survey done about the farmhouse, formerly the Robert Way house. Find that post here.
The Wilson family owned the farm since 1903. The first two children, Annie Maude and Hugh, were born on Howe Island. But the rest of the children were born on the farm, including my grandfather Charles in 1907.
After it ceased being a working farm in the 1960s, it was a place for family reunions, family vacations and a place to get away from it all. It was located right on the St. Lawrence River. The photo above is from the 1950s, I believe.
Here is an interesting article titled “Caesar LaMonaca: A Remembrance of the Bayfront Park Band Shell Concerts, 1929-1977” about the bandshell with what looks like the photograph that this postcard is based on.
This is the obituary of my Great-Grandmother who sent my mother all those postcards in 1959. She died June 6, 1971 at the age of 79. The three great-grandchildren mentioned in the obituary are my three brothers.
Mallard’s Bar in Dearborn, Michigan was a bar frequented by my grandparents and great-grandparents. Mom remembers going with her parents and playing games and eating hamburgers. Grandpa Thompson used to get drunk and walk home (about a mile away on Bennet Street). Myrtle V. Mallard was the wife of the owner, William L. Mallard. According to the 1948 Polk’s Dearborn City Directory, Mallard’s was listed as a Beer Garden at 2247 S. Telegraph Rd. William Mallard also owned a gas station at 2245 S. Telegraph Rd. William and his wife Myrtle lived at 40140 Michigan Ave. in Wayne, Michigan.