27 July 2013
I’d like to thank the person who introduced Frank Arthur Miller to Wilhelmina Henrietta Goebel. Thank you, whoever you are. I’d like to thank Frank for proposing marriage to Wilhelmina. Thank you, Dad. I’d like to thank Wilhelmina for accepting Frank’s marriage proposal. Thank you, Mom. Without those three actions, neither my brother, Fred, nor I (and our families) would exist, so next time you think of us, say a word of thanks to “whoever”, to Frank and to Wilhelmina. Thank you.
20 July 2013
When the children were young, we recited this verse:
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy,
My grandfather, William Francis Miller, Sr., was called Fuzzy because he always had his hair trimmed close to the skin. (In his older years, his youngest son, Uncle Bill, would trim it for him.) He was born in Lyons, New York, the seventh of eight children, but spent most of his life in Batavia, where he raised his family. There were 10 children, 7 of whom grew to adulthood. His wife, Lennie, died from complications during childbirth of the 10th child, Thomas, who was stillborn; daughter Rachel died at 4 months from cholera; their first daughter, Violet, died in her first year, also. He was a lather, said to be the fastest in that area. Before plaster board, lath strips (about 1 inch by ¼ inch) were attached to the studs of a building to hold the plaster. The laths were spaced about 1/4 inch apart so the mason could force the plaster through the spaces, which allowed the plaster to stick to the wall. I can imagine it was difficult to keep the family together in those days while working throughout the county. His sister-in-law wanted to take some of the children but he refused. The family grew up relying on one another for support. In 1893, he was kicked in the leg by a horse; the break was not set properly and caused him to limp and use a cane. In 1905, he made the newspaper by defending his 16-year old daughter from the unwanted attentions of a stonemason; he was fined and his revolver confiscated. In his elder years, Fuzzy lived with his oldest daughter in Rochester, where he passed away at age 93.
11 July 2013
Joe Squeezer owned a bar on Lake Avenue, near where State Street ended and Lake Avenue began. He featured live music; the stand was in the middle of the bar, up so everyone could see. We were just old enough to be legal, drank 7 & 7 and smoked Raleigh cigarettes – you know, where there was a coupon in every pack you could save up to send for merchandise, but we never seemed to save up enough for the good stuff. When we walked in and saw the organ on the stand, we knew it was Doug Duke and it was gonna be a great set, with those sounds only Doug could coax out of the organ. Some jazz, some danceable stuff. Our dates didn’t like that we only wanted to watch and listen, so we tried to keep them occupied with stuff like who was that in the back room who didn’t want anyone to see who they were with, or who was the doll in the fur that just walked in and who was she with and all kinds of things like that. We were busy with the music. And sometimes it was a piano and Joe Mooney up from Florida for the summer. Joe was to the piano as Duke was to the organ. Pure rapture. Smokes and 7 & 7 and live music. Life couldn’t be any better than this! Afterwards, we’d head to Cutali’s, before he moved south, for spaghetti and meatballs and a glass of beer, just around the corner from Sibley’s. Rochester after dark, in the 50’s, was a great place to be and we made what of it we could.