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July 9, 2009 - Michael Palmer
Thanks very much to all of you who expressed your sympathy, sent cards and flowers. It was very appreciated and a comfort to myself and my family.
My mom was a very nice person and had many friends but no enemies. She would have been the first to tell you that the sun will rise up the next morning and life will move on for all of us. She would never allow me to chronicle her life in print while she was alive, but now I feel it is time to tell her tale in tribute to a life well lead.
Alice May Visintainer was born in a small community of European immigrants known as Maple Grove. Her father was Anthony "Tony" and had came to this country following WWI from his native Austria to be a cheese maker. His poor command of the English language forced him to change careers and become a coal miner. The mules in the mine spoke many languages fluently so there was no problem communicating there.
Tony married Ida Mae Gibelin, known to all of her friends as "Edith" and they had three children, Alice, Robert and Joyce. The family grew up during the great depression, which they survived due to the help of their many friends in the close knit community. Alice would tell us stories from those days, some were happy and some were sad, but that is life.
Mom was a sort of Tom Boy growing up. She played baseball, roller skated,went swimming in the local pond and took little note of the economic woes that surrounded her. there is a photo of her in a pair of bib overhauls with a cap cocked on top of her long black hair. She played in a group of kids that resemble the cast of Our Gang or known to the younger generation as Little Rascals.
There were many vagrants that traveled the trains from the nearby railroad and some would stop by the houses and beg for food. If there was a handout to be had there, they would mark an X on the back of an outbuilding facing the tracks for other hobos. She said Grandma was always checking and scrubbing off the marks.
There were relatives that were bootleggers and often people seeking illegal booze during prohibition would mistakenly knock on the door of their home at all hours of the day and night. Mom said these characters looked the part of gangsters and grandma Edith would grab her children with one hand and a small .22 caliber rifle with the other before answering the door. Mom always said "It was a little frightening," because grandpa worked third shift in the mine to make extra money and the four were there alone at night.
In typical parent tales of education, Mom described the daily walk to school, sometimes walking along the railroad tracks during floods just to get to classes, which were located, as all school buildings of the time - on a hill - lending to the uphill both ways myth.
Edith died in 1942, when my mother was a sophomore in high school. Her brother was just a year younger, but her sister was just 8 years old at the time. Mom inherited the job of raising Joyce, but never complained. She kept house, cooked meals, washed clothes and still managed to be the Valedictorian of her graduating class in 1944. She received a scholarship medal from Ohio Governor John William Bricker.
She continued caring for her dad, brother and sister until they left home. She worked as a bank teller days and as a waitress in the local truck stop at night. That is where she met a blue eyed farm boy that drove milk truck named William Palmer. They dated and grandpa Tony liked the new beau, he used to let him drink his home made wine and fall asleep on the couch. The two were married on October 30, 1958.
The wedding almost was cancelled, there was an Asian Flu epidemic at the time and Dad had a fever of 102 the day of the wedding. In addition, he had broken his leg the week before and it was in a cast up to the knee. Several of the members of the bridal party also were sick with the flu. To further complicate matters a man named Bill Palmer had robbed a gas station in a nearby community and there was an all point bulletin out to detain a William Palmer. So the drive out of town to the honeymoon cottage in the Smokey Mountains was almost postponed.
The trip went well despite the illness, injury and manhunt and they returned to raise their family.
Next Blog - Wedded Bliss with the four curtain climbers.
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Alice at 5 Years Old