My Dear Father, Joseph
October 26, 1908 - October 20, 2004
My dad was born on October 26, 1908. His birth name was Mercier Bone, according to the 1920 census. His parents were Anna Cote and George Wilfred Baulne. Wilfred changed his name to Bone upon moving to Maine from Canada. My dad changed his name to Joseph Ernest Bohne at some point, for sure before he married my mother. He had four brothers and four sisters. They were, from oldest to youngest: William, Blanche, Beatrice (her mother named her Columbia), Mabel, (my father would be here), Donald, Juliette, Herbert, and Raymond. My father was born in Sanford, Maine but his parents moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts when he was very young. I think he met my mother through some friends or family members. My parents were married on June 29, 1935. They had 5 children.
My father told a story of living in one of the tenement houses in his youth in Lawrence and not having screens on the windows of the house. He said the flies came in during the summer months which made it very hard to sleep. He also said that his first pair of long pants were discarded from a painter. My father took those discarded pants and cleaned them with turpentine so he could have long pants and be like a grown man. He quit school in 7th grade (I think) and went to work at a very young age.
My father worked hard all his life. He worked in the mills in Massachusetts - the "sweat shops". I remember him working in a place where they made the plastic covering for car seats in the 1960s and 1970s [see below]. Sometimes he would bring home pieces of the vinyl and we would use it for various things. At one time I used a very large piece to cover my car to protect it from the elements.
He also built his own house in Methuen, Massachusetts on land that his mother gave to him. This is the house where I grew up (pictured above). He was building the house in the late 1940s, when my mother was pregnant with me, and when I was very young. It is a basic two story Massachusetts style house. The house is no longer in the family; it was sold in 2001. I hope the people who bought it enjoy using it. I won't put the address here for their privacy.
My mother told me that when I was about two years old my dad went to New Jersey to work for a week or two and that I used to look out the window calling for "daddy." I was also told, that when I was young, I would sit by him or on his lap and he would read children's books to me.
Many times on the weekends our family would go visit one relative or another or some of them would come to our house. Sometimes we would have cook-outs and my father would cook hot dogs and hamburgers over a grill and we would have a great time talking and/or playing outdoor games like baseball and croquet.
He loved watching the Boston Red Sox games on TV or listening to their games on the radio. He was an avid Red Sox fan. He also went to the games at Fenway Park on occasion and I went with him, along with other of my siblings, several times. He would always hope that they would win the world series. He would sometimes call them "The Bums" jokingly - but he loved them. It's sad to think that the Red Sox finally won the Pennant shortly after my Dad died and they won the World Series on the Day my dad would have turned 96 years old had he not died. On the plane ride out for his funeral I cried when I heard that they had won the pennant and the World Series and he missed it. I cried because he was gone of course.
One of my father's favorite shows on TV was the Lawrence Welk Show. Another one was The Ed Sullivan show. Both of my parents liked both of those shows. I would often watch both of them with my parents when I was young.
My father would always plant a garden every year. He would start the seeds sprouting in February in a south-facing window in the upstairs portion of our house. He would then put them in a little hot-house that he built outdoors, using bricks and an old house window (or two). Then he would plant them in the garden when the time was right. We had fresh corn on the cob, green beans, tomatoes, beets, carrots, strawberries and blueberries, among other things. He would can them himself so we could have them in the winter.
We had a pretty good sized piece of land. His mother gave him this piece of land in the 1940s, I guess. What I've heard from various family members, is he went to court and got the land for her from his father and then she gave it to him as a thank you. In the 60's or 1970's my father (with my mother) built another house to the west of our house and then he sold that house. Eventually he sold another piece of the land to my sister; I think that was in the 1980's (she sold that house in the 1990s). Then he sold the other two lots of land around the same time to someone who built two more houses. He had also owned some of the land on the other side of the street but he sold that when I was quite young. So the land he once owned now has at least 6 houses on it. No one in the family currently owns any of that land, including the house he built. That's too bad, in my opinion.
I remember my dad's mother living in a house on the piece of land across the street from the family home. I have a vague memory of going over there to watch TV when I was very young and sitting in a very large rocking chair. My father's mother died when I was about 8 years old. I also remember my father keeping chickens in a coop on that property across the street. And I remember a dog we once had (Jingles I think) whom my dad tried to keep fenced up but the dog would continually dig himself out of his fenced-in area. The house that my grandmother lived in burned down at some time, I think it was in the late 50s or early 60's. It was replaced with another house by whoever bought the land.
I remember when my father turned 64 in 1972. It was around the time the Beatles did that song "When I'm Sixty-four." I remember thinking that 64 was very old indeed. But my father went on to live another 32 years!
After I moved away from home I would call my parents and talk with my dad about his garden, the weather, the Red Sox, and other family members. In 2003 after my mother died I would call my dad and we would chat briefly on the phone. He would always say that he loved me and I always said that I loved him too. Yes, I do love him still and I will miss his voice on the phone and I will miss seeing him. I had known him all my life and now I won't see him any more.
I am adding this on March 5, 2010:
It was too painful for quite some time to write more about my dad.
I flew out to MA/NH after he passed on in October of 2004. I was sitting in the airplane with an empty seat between me and the other passenger. I saw the newspaper sitting there about the Red Sox winning the World Series. The man saw me looking and he asked if I wanted to read the paper, so I picked it up. I almost immediately started crying. I was crying that I would no longer be able to talk on the phone with my dad. I was crying that my dad had missed the Red Sox win the World Series. Like I said above he'd been waiting all his life for them to win. I was crying because I knew I was going to miss my dad. I guess that man was wondering why I was crying. He never asked and I never told him.
During his wake my two aunts - my mother's sisters - my aunt Rita and aunt Bertha - came up to me to say something to me and I just started crying on their shoulders and said something like, "They're both gone!" During the funeral service I saw my brother cry for the first time in my life. I loved my dad very much and hope he is happy where he is now. I will miss him terribly.
Added March 22, 2015 - My father worked at The Bolta Company (or Bolta Rubber) on 151 Canal Street in Lawrence Massachusetts. As far as I can remember he was working there when he retired when he turned 65. I was 22 and still living at my parent's home at the time. One of the things they made was car seat coverings and he'd bring home the end-rolls and we would use them for many useful purposes. As I also mention above, I remember having enough to cover my entire Chevy Belaire car in the winter using magnets to hold the cover in place.
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