Definitely not from the same day at all. Maybe some of the same people but several years earlier. Our grandmother May Gill was born in 1915 to John Coleman Rosecrans and Maude L. Rosecrans. May died at a very young age of only 44. She died suddenly and shockingly of a heart attack at home. There have been rumors flung about about her death being suspicious based on several “things told to me”.
In this months PTMYT (April 2014) another old mysterious Gill photo taken on Austin street in Westfield NJ. (probably). This photo had the same kind of look and feel of another old Gill photo mentioned in a previous BLOG POST.
1. The fiery relationship she had with her husband Fredrick, a Westfield NJ cop.
2. The decision by husband to have NO autopsy and a quick burial.
3. A suddenly new relationship by husband with a new woman only a few weeks after funeral.
So yeah, ha ha, secret family scandal. May Gill was poisoned by her cop husband. None of this has ever been proven. Nor will it ever be. I’m not exhuming the grave of the grandmother I never saw and I certainly don’t want to see what she looks like now. Rest in peace everyone involved.
One thing I really ponder on now, was that May had THREE brothers and SIX sisters! So that big family thing isn’t just a Hartman trend? So there were NINE aunts and uncles that we also never really met or saw. I might have been too young to remember even if I did meet them. Her three children, Joan, Fred and Carol told me Grandma Gill was a nice woman. That’s all I remember. Another story was that when she pooped, her kids would all go in the bathroom with her and she would tell stories. She was known as a very kind woman in her job at Westfield High School where she was a cook for nine years. Her death at 44 was so early that she only had two grandchildren when she passed away, Barb and Beverly. She would have been surprised if she hung around.So my curiosity remains at who is who in the top photo. At this point I’m going out on a limb to assume that most or all of them are her siblings.
Starting from left, John Rosecrans Jr, May Gill, sister, another brother (maybe Fredrick Rosecrans with wife OR another sister. Fred Gill Sr is next and he is holding a little baby Caroline our aunt. At the end the only thing I can say here is “Get a freaking room.”
Of course in the first row is Joan Gill (our mother) and Fred Gill Jr our uncle. He is wearing an official cap of some sort. This stirred up even more curiosity in me. I do know that we have a great uncle that was lost in a submarine during WWII. I am assuming this photo was taken around 1940-2. So there was a war going on when this was taken. That man in the middle appears to be wearing dress military uniform. So I am assuming that the cap our uncle Fred is playing with is actually from that guy in the center of the photo. I did a google image search on Navy caps used during World War 2. Not surprisingly something very similar came up. It might be an officers cap from Navy.
So is this the guy that was never found on a sunken submarine in WWII??? Sure enough I found a web site that listed every submarine and their crew member LOST during WWII. I actually clicked on every submarine and checked for the sir name Gill. I did find one- on January 24, 1942 the submarine USS S-26 went down BUT three men survived. The mans name TMC Joseph Mathew Gill was goggled and as it turns out he is from Alabama and not New Jersey.
The only other things I think of is that great uncle from the Navy was actually a Rosecrans and not a Gill. This is not the way I remember it being told to me. This WWII hero was definitely named GILL. OR maybe that is a fireman or policemen uniform. It is a fact that Mays father was indeed the Cheif of the Westfield NJ police force which is exactly how our grandfather Fredrick Gill got the job.
Yet another Rosecrans search, I found in the Westfield Leader newspaper (bottom left middle article) that Mays brother, Windsor was promoted to a Lieut. in the National Guard. But this was July 1927. (yet still possible, that might be a captains cap after 13+ years!)
So this is how it goes with web research on the amazing and still growing world wide web. I was just trying to find out some names. People that have long passed on. People that were “somehow” related to our mothers and fathers. This spark of a connection in life that electrifies our existence. Like I said, if I had this interest even before Carol or Joan died, I would have had all the answers and names and probably a few cool stories too.
vigil by the deep lagoons
cRazy Indian colors:
rich browns. If
landscapes could dream and poetry
the earth woul>dn’t be crippled with
leafy green disappointment. Gracious
shadows slowly unroll across the floor
the artist drinks a quart of fear
chanGes the oil
grows a salaD
builds a lego castle. Mops
the Kitchen floor with gasoline
lights a cigarette
calls the boss and gives
a ten year notice
There were many times we were visited by Mom or Dad with a stern warning to “Shut up and go to sleep!” and this warning usually required several revisits. We never took Mom seriously, she was a lightweight with discipline. But if the heavy footsteps of dad started coming up the stairs we were under the covers and pretending to sleep in seconds.
I recently wrote about lack of a total family photo together but this comes close. From Photos That Make You Think December 2006 a photo probably taken by Mom in the early eighties or closer to the last year in Whitman street.
I am grateful that our Christmas’s were magical. Mom and Dad made sure of that. I am sure that we too, as adults and parents have also made sure that we provided magical holidays for our children too. I know personally for me, there was no bigger day, no bigger anticipation then waking up Christmas morning. For most of my childhood I shared a bunk bed with my brother Gregory. I always slept on the top and he on the bottom. Although we couldn’t see each other, we talked, laughed and even sang songs long into the dark night.
Christmas time was the Sears “Wish Book” which made the rounds to everyone with a clean sheet of loose leaf paper and a pen. We would scribble our “wishes” and pass the book on. We were generously entitled to “One BIG thing and two SMALL things” and besides that, there were always extras thrown about under the tree. Dad and mom would be up all night Christmas eve assembling, arranging and trying their best to be quiet. I remember one Christmas arriving at the top of the stairs at probably 5AM and the sight below was absolutely amazing. There was not one open space. The entire living room was just covered with toys and games. It is one of those childhood visions that remain embedded in my memory.
In true holiday spirit, Mom carried on the expensive Christmas tradition after Dad died and we never really lost the “magic” A tip of the hat to Gene Kaufmann and Danny Braza for helping out in the hard work on Christmas eve’s long nights.
So looking back, I wonder about this “magic”. Was it pure materialism? Was it the TV shows, music and decorations (we always had a real tree) that smothered us for a month? Was it just being part of a huge family filled with hope and love? Was it all of the above? Did we lose focus, like most of the world on what the birth of Jesus Christ really means? As we get older we change. We become a little less selfish when we become parents. Always a source for inspiration, I read something on Facebook that many people agree with today: “I think that as you get older your Christmas list gets smaller and the things you really want for the holidays can’t be bought.”
two score and three years ago our father, full of determination and
curiosity gathered his young family into a green Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
and journeyed 200 miles southwest into the belly of American history,
the fields of Civil War death, the tourist traps the land of hotels and
cyan colored swimming pools. The fierce fighting for the window seats
as mom chain-smoked Viceroys with windows up, AC on, seatbelt s off,
FM radio tuned to rock classics of the day “Which Way Ya Going Billy?”
Poppy Family,”In the Summertime”by Mungo Jerry,”Hey There Lonely Girl”
by Eddie Holman, The Hollies with “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”
this station wagon featured speakers in the back seat panels, and
this was modern day coolness unheard of in the day. We breezed thru
Interstate 76 pass the Esso billboards and Roadside America invitations
Bushkill Falls, Crystal Cave, the Amish in Lancaster, covered bridges, and
the Hershey Factory. So it was, we as a family took our one and only
vacation and not everyone was invited and some invited guests didn’t
want to come! If you were clad in diapers than you stayed home
with Mrs. Askew. Beverly was lost in teenage phone world and requested
to be left alone forever. Against her will she was dragged into the
overcrowded station wagon and we endured the three hour struggle
into the sweet beauty of Pennsylvania’s mountains with our mighty V8
spectacular blue skies, puffy white clouds, fields of lazy cows and
a dreary mundane depression that forever lurks in these small towns.
Their shops, schools and slow walking slow talking locals with accents.
We stopped once for 36 cents a gallon gas as Apollo nine flew hundreds
of miles overhead and the Vietnam War raged on overseas.Just being in a
hotel is the vacation.Soda and candy vending machines.Running down
hallways screaming and taking the elevator up and then down, over and
over Dad sitting in the chair smoking a cigar, planning our days with
maps and brochures the TV blaring,nobody watching Jumping on the bed
suddenly,how many glass displays of dug up bullets, marble statues of
men on horses, riffles hanging on walls, hundreds of B&W photos
of dead men can one person view? This was an endless history class in
the hot Summer sun.It wasn’t my fault I was a kid with different ideas of
adventure and that by the third day of endless hundred year old history
I had enough and made it my point to say so. Somewhere in between
Little Round Top and Devils Den, my whining had warranted a beating
I was sent to the car crying On the way home this hungry family did
breakfast and dad ordered pancakes for all which finally came stacked
bigger than anything we had ever seen. Psychology won and just vision
had made us full. Dad paid the bill shaking his head at the biggest waste
of money and food and Brenda picked up her “underbrella” and we left
The longer drive home hypnotized sleep. Dad the accountant adds
expenses in his head. It wasn’t a vacation it was an education he later
said. And as we finally pulled into the concrete driveway I knew that
if I became a dad, my kids would be riding roller coasters on our
vacations.We would take luxury ships and planes to get there. Never
long lines, hot sun, ‘education’ or hours to get there but then if I did
would my future son ever write a memory poem such as this?
I’d like to bring you back again and see if you changed your mind about death. Brenda called “SHOTGUN!” as my sisters ran to my car. Beverly just smiled and elegantly squeezed her long lean body into the crowded back seat of my small Kia Reo.
“On my God, it’s been SO long!” she said.
Brenda popped into the front seat and was so excited she was just making noises.
“Put your seat belts on”, I said as I started the engine
I was a little surprised when they listened to me because I didn’t know what to expect. Death can do strange things to people, I thought.
I put the car in gear and they both squealed simultaneously.
“Stop and get cigarettes!” Beverly yelled from the back.
“Oh yeah, Georgie, do THAT!”, Brenda chimed in.
Oh what the hell, I thought I spent almost $17.00 for two packs.
“Holy crap!” Bev said. “They were three bucks last time I remember. John Karst used to always get them for me.”
So I drove and they smoked. We drove and we drove all around New Jersey. Carteret, Rahway, Linden and Perth Amboy. We stopped for Taylor ham and cheese at Burger Express drive-in, TWICE. I picked up Wise potato chips in Linden and Slim Jims at a Krausers along with more cigarettes. We drove past Bevs old haunts including Grandma Wilski’s house in Linden. We got out of the car on Whitman street and walked outside around the old abandoned house we used to live in. When I told Beverly that one of her Persian cats had already out-lived her by 13 years she blurted, “Nooooo Waaaay!”
Beverly then started to cry as she lit another cigarette but I just let that moment go by. There has to be a lot of emotion coming back from a “deep sleep” after so long. You realize that life doesn’t stop when you do, it’s just keeps going on and on and on.
With windows down to let out the smoke and the constant ramblings and memories of my sisters words, it soon started to get dark out. We are watching time pass but with no anxiety and no attempt to alter the past or present.
Brenda and Beverly asked me question after question. Before I could finish answering one, there was another or a round of laughter. Everything had changed and was “funny looking.”
“I thought there would be flying cars by now, Butch. Remember the Jetsons? Is that still on?”
I finally took my iPhone out of my coat pocket and to their amazement I showed them how it worked as we parked in Carteret Shopping Center for more Slim Jims. They fought over the phone but Brenda eventually won because there were photos of Becca and Brooke all over Facebook. Bev took a long deep drag on her cigarette and as smoke flowed out of her mouth she asked, “So everyone has one of these things?” pointing to the phone.
I told her technology was getting out of control and since she had been gone the longest, she was the most amazed by current life.
“Oh my God George. TAKE ME TO OHIO RIGHT NOW!” Brenda barked as she stared open-mouthed at the photos of her kids on my phone.
I took the navigator out of the glove compartment and plugged it into the dash. “Another phone thing?” Beverly asked?
“No, this thing will tell and show us how to get to Ohio.”
“Whatever!” Bev says shaking her head. “So mom died a year after me?, were people sad at my funeral?, who came?, I don’t remember the coma. did you tell Danny Braza??”
The questions went on and I answered the best that I could and sometimes I didn’t know or I lied. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t afraid. Any fear was totally overwhelmed by seeing them sitting in my car. They seemed young, healthy, full of vigor and curiosity. I think life is a good thing where they come from. A Gift. They seemed to have missed being here but they also had nothing to say about where they had been. “It’s such a wonderful place. I do miss it already.” was all I got out of Brenda at one point. But they were only interested in this moment. Driving around in my car. They both had a strange glow to them and their eyes were almost wild with excitement.
In front of us has we drove West on Interstate 80, the sun was blazing and clouds were turning into a molten lava of oranges and reds. When I pointed at the sunset in front of us and said “Look at that!” they seemed uninterested as if they had seen things much more beautiful while they were away. It was at this point I felt a small tug on my existence here with them. Something was happening. Something weird.
Brenda was showing Bev a photo of Brooke in a high school play when a tingling sensation in my arm shook me, I heard Brenda’s crazy laugh and looked over at the passenger seat and it was only my phone. My arm hurt. It hurt bad. I looked in the rear view mirror for Beverly and she was gone too. The fog was lifting. No, it can’t be. Was it? My arm is under my body and it is asleep. The fog is lifting quicker as the tingles in my arm stir me back into reality. No, no no. It was a dream? A DREAM??
“Look at that sunset sisters!” I yelled as I tried to get back to where I was. I didn’t want to leave. Now it feels like cob webs are all over me. My eyes are crusty. There is droll all over my chin. Oh my gosh. I was out of it. One of those rare deep sleeps. I remembered everything. My entire day driving with them. It seemed so real. I wanted to go back. We never got pizza. We never made it to Ohio.
…thru the pine trees of our camp site. It felt like we were a million miles from New Jersey but there we were right squat in the middle of it. In the middle of what seemed to be nowhere. You couldn’t hear the turnpike screaming here and we weren’t under a direct 747 plane route to Newark. The only sounds we heard here was the crackling of a fire, beers popping open and our dog barking in the wind. These were the days, my friend. I don’t remember who discovered this “hidden” dirt road to Farrington Lake (Stuff or Glenn?) but it was the greatest discovery since rubber-coated baseballs. We drifted here often to get away. To drink, to sleep in tents, to fish and to just basically be crazy kids. I have some great memories (at least what I hazily remember anyway) of coming here on windy Fall days or blazing Summers. Into the cool shade of pines. Swimming in the cold lake. Cooking off the fire. Drinking and laughing into the late hours of darkness. We were men (and dog) living off the land (ha ha) and surviving the wilderness (yeah right)
About this photo: courtesy of Bonnie Ludwig Matthias on Facebook. This is actually a photo of a photo and I loved it the second I saw it. Wish there were more photos of the Farrington Lake era.
-Perhaps it’s part of our basic nature to drift into believing that we have a handle on life. Perhaps we think we’re all so experienced that we have seen it all, know it all and that nothing that comes our way anymore is shocking. And then someone you love dies.
-My awkwardness is at an Olympic level. I stumble into most rooms looking for a corner to hide. Except at work. I’m a quiet T-Rex that can explode in hunger at any given time.
-Latest discoveries: I’m over-emotionally available, have a strange brain and like it. I enjoy taking part in life for the most part, don’t we all? If you think you have a “miserable” life just stay in touch with the news and if you can’t radiate one OUNCE of gratitude from that then you probably won’t get along with anyone and certainly not me. Children with cancer, especially RARE cancer is seemingly becoming an epidemic. Do you ever really wonder what is in our food and milk after humans and technology get their hands on it? Do you believe that at the turn of the century and the industrial revolution has anything to do with this? Back then it was “OK” to dump millions of tons of toxins in the rivers and oceans and air. Do you think all of that has just gone away? Do you think we have completely stopped dumping on Mother Earth?
-With large families being so rare these days, I’m always asked how my mother did it? You have to give her tons of credit but do you mention the drinking, shoplifting and total loss of control? Some people just aren’t cut out to be the disciplinarian. Being part of such a large family means you always have someone to play with, but privacy is scarce. We had more bunk beds then a submarine. It makes me sick of what becomes a reality TV show these days. Anything and everything. While some can be interesting and educational most of them and 90% of TV is just pure trash anyway. If they set up a few cameras in Whitman street during our peak, I’m not sure it would sell. Some of our neighbors were pretty interested in our life. I remember being watched with an odd eye a lot as a kid playing in the yard or cars driving by slow to take a gander at the bizarre Brady bunch after Ed and his kids moved in. There were always haters but there were some that loved us. Some that loved us so much, that they actually became family. We took in anybody. Mom was like that after dad died. Hey we have ten kids but Bevs boyfriend moved in and friends slept over for days upon days turning into weeks.
-It isn’t hard to learn how to breathe more properly Deep breathing can be very relaxing, it reduces stress and is a wonderful way to get in touch with our body and our very self.
-Nothing can make people feel they have a purpose in life, like having children.
I am worried about what I do not know. There is too much of that. I don’t live with my kids. What is really happening? What happened?
I knew when they were just so young, and there was never a pet dog and worse thing ever, when I pulled up in front of the house on Oct. 31 to pick them up, there were never any Halloween decorations.
Children without a real home, will always seek a real home. What is a real home? The definition can vary, but when sickness and phobias create an unhealthy environment, then you can be left with no warmth. Warmth in a home can consist of many wonderful things. -Paintings and photos hanging on the wall. -A crowded refrigerator full of food and healthy snacks. -A crowded refrigerator door filled with magnets memories and fun. -A functioning TV. -An internet connection and family computer. -A comfortable positive environment. -Never worrying about losing your home to financial ignorance. -A dog with a wagging tail or a purring cat. -Halloween decorations.
1. .Just sit & observe. You’ll learn a lot.
2. Before you get married, spend one year living together first.
3. The best things happen unexpectedly.
4. Never trust coffee that isn’t coffee flavored.
5. Go camping once a year.
6. Take a few deep breaths daily.
Almost dying from osteomyelitis at 2 years old.
Starting to drink at an early age.
Joining a colorful musical cult.
some most math subjects at school.
Hating my mother.
Almost being abandoned in California by my mother.
Having nine siblings.
Experimenting with life-crushing poverty.
Almost dying while trying to swim across Farrington Lake.
Going to an all-boys private Catholic HS.
Changing from beer to straight whiskey.
Learning stream-of-consciousness writing method.
Getting arrested and going to jail.
Getting dragged by my hair up a flight of stairs by an ex convict named John Dellaroba.
Working split shifts, night shifts and every minute of overtime ever offered to me.
Marrying an incoherent woman from another universe
Being an alter boy
Things I regret:
I’ve spent a lot of time in twelve step meetings the past thirty years and some of what I was “taught” has stuck. One of the things was, that, as long as you are drinking, drugging or acting out consistently and compulsively, you fail to grow emotionally. So in theory, if I began my journey to self destruction at age 15, and continued until I was 28, then I had the emotional development of a 15 yo at age 28. Ridiculous isn’t it? I always thought so until I encountered someone close to me with an insatiable thirst for the “poor me’s” Hey, I’d like to feel sorry for you if I could but maybe it’s time to move along. I’ve also learned my tolerance level in dealing with adult’s that have a child’s emotional growth level. ZERO.
So this is my bad. I pray for patience and enlightenment to help get along with every human being that crosses my path. Even my social media circle of robot friends and family.
I’ve also been learning about passive-aggressive behavior. This targets me generally. Why is it that the darkest side of human nature includes wanting bad things to happen to other people? Whether they deserve it or not, who am I to judge? Who am I to hate? This whole monster of human nature in trying to “out-do” our friends and family brings NOTHING but disgrace. No, it’s not easy for me to say. In everyone’s life tears were shed, harsh words were spoken, fear, dread, resentment, jealousy, frustration and rage comes and goes like clouds in the sky.
To be quite honest I stopped going to meetings. It was easy when you had no solid foot on the ground. When there was no real place to hang your hat. Or, that that place kept changing. It is only through the blessings of a good God that I found some real peace in my life. It is only through the generosity, love and kindness of Krysia that I can bury myself in blankets on a cold north east night and dream. It is through these warmhazy dreams that I can wake up in a home. In a home you can begin to take care of yourself. Go to a doctor (even if an overnight visit to the emergency room initiated it.) I can rejoin the ymca. I can begin learning and doing transcendental meditation. Joining the quite bizarre (but Catholic church related) Knights of Columbus. I can actually do things for myself that are healthy. Through it all, whenever I encounter a tough situation or a man-child, I find that I always bounce back on the life lessons I have learned in AA. As repetitious as those meetings can be, maybe it’s time to go back. I have absolutely no desire to go back to drinking and drugging yet something pulls me there. The friendship? The horrible coffee? The human tragedy? The repetitious steps and slogans? The service? Helping others? Maybe all of the above or can I even slide it into my scheduling, I don’t know.
Today I will dress in dark cloths and attend the viewing of a 16 year old girl that lost a gallant fight against some rare-crazy-aggressive cancer. I hardly knew this wonderful girl but it was so easy to join in with the entire community and help her. Something I witnessed which I shall never forget as long as I live (and live on in the afterlife) is hearing a young smart girl announce “We should start a fundraiser” and then see it develop, grow and snowball down the side of a mountain like a runaway train. Because of this selfless act I saw that people will bond together for another human. People are not greedy. People sincerely care. If you fall down there is a hand, EVEN many willing hands to help you get back up. My faith tells me the afterlife is real and that it’s not just some dark, void waiting room in the mountains of the universe. I have an advanced case of poets brain. I struggle with heaven and hell but I am overwhelmed with compassion for humanity. I’m redesigning myself at all times. I’m trying to think of others, even that fool that hung up on me. “Poor me. Poor me. Pour me another drink.”
The reason why they repeat so much in AA is because most alcoholics are so DAMN thick-headed, (and this IS and WAS me!) that it is only after something is heard several million times that it begins to sink into a train wreck of a chaotic alcoholic brain. Next step in the city of steps? Tearing off the leaches. Stay tuned!!