The Life and Times of Hermina Marcus
We graduated in June, 1941. It was tearful for most of us. We loved school and our teachers.
My mother was grateful when I gave her the $5.00 I had won for being outstanding in the commercial course. However, she remined me that now I had to find work, and work was scarce. I recall walking to Milford with friends who also had graduated. We applied at all the shoe factories but were always greeted with "sorry, no work."
Finally, we heard that the hat shop in Upton was hiring and I was hired. When I entered my room in the plant, I thought I was in Hell. Big roaring machines spit out fine sheets of lint or some kind of material. We had to catch this lint, place it on rollers and cut. We had to stand by the machines for eight hours. I did receive $16.00 per week.
Three weeks later, I was informed that Draper Corp. needed a clerk in the master mechanics office. Mr. Dennett, God bless his soul, recommended me. The next four years were delightful ones.
On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed. America had begun to mobilize. Our factory was transformed into an ammunition plant. Security was tight. Women left home and the life style in America was changed forever.
Most girls my age were romantically involved with someone in the service. I accepted an engagement ring. My fiancee was in the Navy Air Force. During the two years that we were engaged, we only spent two weeks together. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder.
In 1945, I returned the ring and joined the Cadet Corps. The war caused a grave shortage of nurses at home because so many nurses had enlisted in the service. Therefore, the government started this program and paid for our training. After three years, I graduated from Framingham Union Hospital. Again, I returned to Draper Corp. as an industrial nurse. When I visit Hopedale, I am deeply saddened by the dilapidated mill, once the pillar of our community, it is now an eyesore.
Bernie Marcus and I were married in April, 1949. We moved several times and finally bought our home on 24 Mendon St. We have three children; Patricia Ann, Mary Beth, and Bernard Joseph Jr. We also have four grandchildren; Michael Killingsworth, Danny Wolz and Christine Crone and they are all in college. Melissa Killingsworth is still in high school.
Bernie was self employed when we met, while I was a student. Eventually, he bought P&H Express Inc., a trucking business. Again, I typed and kept books. When the children were older, I returned to school. For several years, I took courses (part time) at Framingham State College. I majored in history and political science. I was in my forties, but I truly enjoyed campus life.
Both Bernie and I were afflicted with wanderlust. We took our frst trip to Europe in 1965. It seems that every spring or autumn, the urge to travel was overwhelming. We visited most of the countries in Europe and we discovered that every country had something special and something different to offer the tourist. Driving a little Fiat through Switzerland is an experience if a person has acrophobia and I had acrophobia. A cruise of the Greek Islands is especially memorable. In Istanbul, we visited their famous bazaar. I happened to admire a little brooch. I don't usually wear pins, so I really didn't want to purchase it. After umpteen glasses of tea and coffee, Bernie bought the brooch. We just couldn't get away. Israel was awe inspiring. It was like going back four thousand years and yet, parts were ultra modern. On the Golan Heights, we did see Russian tanks and trucks rusting in the sun, and Arab bunkers, facing the kibutz below.
We found Rome fascinating and returned several times. While dining in a little bistro, we met a Polish waiter. He introduced us to a Polish priest, who had been a prisoner in Auschwitz. The priest introduced us to his friend, a superior general in the Vatican. The superior general arranged a private audience for us with Pope Paul VI. We also had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. A private audience is quite awesome. I had intended to speak Polish, but I had difficulty expressing myself in English.
Italians drink wine with their meals. We also drank wine with our meals. Perhaps that is the reason why we volunteered to smuggle breviaries (Bibles and Prayer books) into Communist Poland. It was against the law to have any kind of religious literature at that time. I don't believe we realized the danger until we arrived in Warsaw. Poland was governed by Russia. We hired a guide and delivered the religious books. The provincial was expecting us and quickly dismissed us. We had difficulty finding our guide, who had parked two blocks away.
I believe that there is a class system all over the world. Communism is no exception. We were guests in the home of a lawyer and a woman doctor. Their apartment was elegant. The furniture was costly. The art was beautiful. They also had a maid. Eggs, meat and vegetables were plentiful.
In Poznan, we visited a friend, whome we had met. She was allotted a small room and had to share the kitchen and bathroom with three other families and, each day, she had to stand in line for milk, bread and meat. Restaurants served gourmet meals, including steak and red and black caviar. (Hate those salty fish eggs).
At that time, Poland was a shopping Mecca. The average pay was $20.00 per month. However, items were sometimes difficult to find. The State paid the clerks, whether or not they sold any merchandise.
Before we left Poland, we were informed that our girls had to leave two days earlier. Patty was 15 years of age and Mary Beth was fourteen. They offered no explanation. We were upset. Bernie tried to bribe the agents, but to no avail. We left two days later.
When we returned to the States, our Polish friends informed us that the government did not allow anyone to take gold, amber and furs out of the country. In Warsaw, our suitcases were not checked. We had arrived a bit late. We had gold, amber and two exquisite fur coats.
We moved to Florida in 1973. Bernie bought B.J.'s Place. I helped him some. I also started to take art lessons. In due time, I was asked to teach and was commissioned to paint quite a few pictures, including portraits.
We took many cruises and flew to Las Vegas three times. We were planning a trip to Biloxi and Alaska when we discovered that Bernie had lung cancer. He had the best of care. Patty had been an oncology nurse for over twenty years. He died at home on March 8, 1999, surrounded by his family.
The adjustment has been difficult. However, with time, I can now count my blessings and have periods of serenity and peace. I also have my memories. These are just moments in time. But, they are my moments in my time, and I will treasure them always.