Clara Sullivan, my maternal grandmother, was left a widow after only eight years of marriage. That was only one in a series of tragedies/disappointments. She was passed over as church organist in her late teens. Frank drank like most Irishmen. She lived in relative poverty for the first fifty years of her life. The fact that her father died when she was 14, while significant, was not a tragedy, because both she and her mother, Eva, could not tolerate Lou Noe's uncontrolled temper outbursts and general surly and mean behavior.
A while after Frank died in 1920, Clara dated other men, probably for a period of about twenty years. My mother tells me that once, in response to a question about why she never remarried, she said, "I never found anyone that I cared about as much as Frank." The album of her photos which mom preserved bears witness to her dating life.
One of her early steady beaus was one "Gitter" Lemon. Gitter must have been a dandy of sorts. I have two excellent pictures of him, and they do say as much as a thousand words. I talked to my mom about this, and she said, "He was a fop, a real dude. He liked women, and mom was one of his girl friends. His hair was wavy and red. He was an Irishmanso Irish that there was shamrocks growing out of his ears.
Gitter worked for an automobile dealer, Mr. Lawrence down at the corner of Second and Greene Streets. He was top sailsman for a while. When the new cars came out, Mr. Lawrence, Gitter and a couple other salesmen used to go to Detroit on the train and drive the new cars back. Mom thinks that this one was a Chrysler 1928 that had been previously owned. You could buy a new Chrysler in those days for $800 or $900 dollars. When the crash came in 1929, Lawrence went bankrupt. He had had a lovely home on Washington Street, but lost it and ended up killing himself. The family also lost a son in World War II on D-Day.
Mom repeats the story of how Gitter and Clara broke up. "She was stoopin' over to take a chicken out of the oven, and Gitter goosed her. Clara turned around, and she slapped him red in the face. She told him, 'Don't you ever do that again. My daughter's right here.' He said, 'She knows what's goin' on.' Then he went to his room, got his things and left. He said, "Well, I'm leavin.' as he walked out. After that he went over to Washington, D.C, because he had a daughter ther. Wound up in nut house."
Another picture is marked "Newell's Run, July 12, 1931. Dodge." Mom says they went on a weenie roast. They took Newport Pike from Marietta to lower Newport, where they picked up a county road over to Rt. 26. From left to right, Louie Schultheiss and Marie Gibbs, Adam Mendenhall and Clara Sullivan, and Lorene Sullivan and her date, Carl Mercer." She said that Adam Mendenhall was a bachelor who went places with Clara, and that they were just friends.
Mom remembered something that happened that day. They were just "actin' a fool" after the roast, and she was standing on top of a big boulder. She said, "I could just slide down, instead of walking down," and she did. Unfortunately, the vine growing on the rock was poison ivy. The next day she was covered with blisters. Her grandma, Eva Noe, went down to Uncle Blll Richardson's Drugs, bought some sugar of lead, and mixed it with lard. She spread it on Lorene and covered her with tea towels. In a day or two, Lorene was better.
Mom once again repeated the story of how grandma cured her of "yellow jaundice," as they called hepatitis in those days. She was "yellow as butter." Dr. McCowan was called, but couldn't do much. Eva went to Cogswell's Grove, found a mulberry tree, exposed the root, and took shavings of about half the bark. She put back the dirt with moss, and the tree lived. She washed the shavings in water, soaked them in Peach Brandy for a day, then gave half teaspoons of it to Lorene. Dr. MCCowan came back to Marietta after years of absence. He asked neighbor, Mr. Stewart, "How did that little girl ever get?" He replied, "She's standing right there!" To which McCowan replied, "I didn't think she was going to live. She's a better doctor than I am."
Besides these two "boyfriends, Gitter Lemon and Adam Mendenhall, there was "Edd" Curtis, who mom says was interested in Clara much more than she was interested in him. There are two pictures of Edd in the album. This one shows him rowing Clara, on the left, and Georgia O'Niell, on the right, during the 1937 flood. The view is down Putnam Street looking east from Front Street toward Marietta College.