Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Deans in Cincinnati: The Clifton Years

Private Raymond C. Dean, 1942-43

Norbert Frank Dean, in the Navy,  1941-45
where he got his dancing girl and serpent tattoos

New Deal for the Deans

In the 1940 Census, Frank and Clara are living at 1455 Columbia Parkway, which is confusing, because their address on Gladstone Avenue was also 1455.  On further research, these two addresses are one and the same.  Part of Gladstone became Columbia Parkway.  People who live there now still think it’s confusing.  This is the first census where Grandma, Frank, and all five children live together. 

My Dad, Raymond, at age 20, is working in a retail bookstore as a stock clerk, a position he’s held for four weeks.  For the period March 24-30, he worked 44 hours, and his “salary” shows $40, and it’s unclear if this is total earnings received for the four weeks or just the period of March 24-30.  His status is PW, meaning public work.  For the question of how long he had been unemployed, he reports “0”

Uncle Norb, now 18, is a laborer for the “CCC Reforestation Project—The Civilian Conservation Corps, one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to put the unemployed to work.  Norb had been unemployed for 56 weeks and has worked, at the time of the census, 26 weeks.  His salary is $180, again not clear the length of the pay period.  Norb is classified as GW—Government Work, as is his father Frank.

Frank’s government placement is “watchman” for the WPA, “Works Project Administration,” the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, which employed millions of unskilled workers for construction of public buildings and roads.  Nearly every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed by the agency.  Frank had been out of work for 82 weeks and has worked 40 weeks.  His salary is $570. 

Close to Clifton--The War Years

My father left for the army in August 1942, one month before I was born, and the Cincinnati Directory for that year lists Frank and Clara residing at 1 West Hollister, close to Clifton Heights, but more Corryville.  Frank is a sheet metal worker for K&BM Company.  Norbert is listed at the same address as a “soldier,” when in fact he was in the navy. 

#1 West Hollister Street, Present Day 
Then, on the next page, there is a separate listing for Raymond, my father, also at 1 West Hollister.  He works as a carpenter. The directory was received in the Copyright Office in January 1942, so Dad was living at #1 Hollister Street when he entered the army.  My mother was eight months pregnant, but her name is not listed on the census.  Usually only those working were listed.  Grandma is listed along with Frank, “Frank & Clara Dean.” 

My maternal grandmother, in Morrow, Ohio, was dying of breast cancer during this time, and my mother stayed at the home and took care of her.  She may have been staying in Morrow then.  My grandmother, Cecile Leeds Jones, died in September 1943, only weeks short of my first birthday.

December 7, 1941, America entered the war, and the U.S. enlisted more than 10 million men and women into the military. 

By the end of the war, more than 12 million American soldiers had joined or were drafted into the military. Widespread rationing occurred. For example, families were given coupons to purchase sugar based on the size of their families. They could not buy more than their coupons would allow. However, rationing covered more than just food - it also included goods such as shoes and gasoline.
Some items were just not available in America. Silk stockings made in Japan were not available - they were replaced by the new synthetic nylon stockings. No automobiles were produced from February 1943 until the end of the war to move the manufacturing to war specific items.
My Father was released from the Army on April 7, 1943, with an honorable medical discharge.  Apparently the long-term effects from the chorea’s neurological disease.  I was seven months old when he came home.  In the 1944 Williams Cincinnati Directory, my parents and I live at 2212 Fulton Avenue, and Dad works at Wright Aero Corporation.
2212 Fulton Avenue, where my parents lived, in one side of
the duplex in 1944, when I was two years old

2223 Clifton Avenue, Next to the Prosit Saloon

Grandma and Frank had moved to 2223 Clifton Avenue by the 1944 city directory.  Frank works as a  meterman.

Before the next directory, Frank would be living somewhere else, and with someone else. 

Clifton Avenue is where my father threw my grandfather down the stairs and out on the street.  The scene of “The Big Fight.” 

The people I remember most in the upstairs apartment on Clifton were my two aunts, Dorothy and Clara, my Grandma, and Uncle Frank, dubbed “Junior” by my grandmother.  I have no memory of my paternal grandfather until years later when he visited us on Sander Street shortly before he died.

All of my life I pictured my father as a teenage boy having to make his dad leave whatever home they lived in.  I remember Grandma saying that my Dad “threw his father down the steps,” and I of course pictured this taking place at the attic apartment on McMillan Street because I spent more time there with Grandma than on Clifton Avenue. 

I now know Frank was tossed out of the 2223 Clifton Avenue apartment and can picture this happening.  I know now that the apartment was on the first and second floor, not just the second floor.  That means he must have been in an upstairs bedroom when Grandma told my Dad to “make him leave.” 

Uncle Norb, according to the 1944 directory,  is listed “USN,” United States Navy, living at “223” Clifton Avenue, which I’m sure was a typo and should have been 2223, the same address as his mother.  I don’t remember Uncle Norb at the Clifton Avenue apartment,  because he was in the navy.  His enlistment date was December 13, 1941, and release date October 10, 1945. 

In 1945, I found Grandma listed in the directory as a “finisher” for the Sperti Company, still at 2223 Clifton Avenue.  Sperti is the company that made sunlamps.  My father owned one, which he may have bought at an employee discount by way of his mother.  He used that sunlamp a lot for his severe eczema and several times had me lay under it for toothaches or monthly cramps. 

In that directory for 1945,  Aunt Dot, is listed as a bookkeeper at the 5th/3rd Union Trust Co., and Aunt Clara is a clerk for the W.A. Merrill Company.  Both of them were living with their mother in the Clifton Avenue apartment. 

Grandma, Aunt Dot, Aunt Clara, and a friend
in the side yard of 2223 Clifton Avenue

Grandfather Frank is listed in the 1945 directory.  He is still a meterman, but his address has changed.  He now lives with Helen Dean, at 1405 Republic Street, in Over-the-Rhine.  

Grandma never divorced her husband.because of her Catholic faith, but Helen’s daughter, Louise, who I happened to find online, said her father, my grandfather, received something from the State of Ohio allowing the marriage. 

Grandma always told me Frank was guilty of bigamy.  She explained to me that the Catholic Church did not allow divorce, once married you were always married until your spouse died.  She told me my grandfather had broken the law by marrying another woman when he was still married to her.  I believedher of course and I never knew anyone else besides me whose grandfather was married to two wives.  But then I never asked any of my friends either.

In 1949, the Cincinnati Directory shows Raymond Dean at 2223 Clifton Avenue along with three other tenants occupying the other apartments in the building.  Grandma had already moved to 226 West McMillan, Apartment #3. 

I was seven in 1949 and started school at St. George after having only attended part of the school year in Morrow at my grandfather’s home.  I don’t remember now if I started at St. George while we lived there in the first-floor apartment on Clifton or if we’d already moved to Hollister Street.

The 1951 directory shows Clara Dean and Frank E. Dean, “Uncle Junior,” living there in the attic apartment.  Junior, age 20, is listed as a stockman. 

Once I discovered Uncle Junior was in fact living there in Grandma’s attic apartment, I remembered him there.  He was still eating Wheaties in the mornings out of his big bowl and teasing me, still reminding me about Susie the Gorilla at the zoo sharing my birthday and how much alike we looked.  Then he’d mess up my hair.  He still tried to mess up my hair on my wedding day.

From 2223 Clifton Avenue, we moved back to my Grandpa’s Morrow Farm, in an upstairs two-room apartment, a kitchen and a bedroom.  We stayed there until about 1948.  We show up next in the 1951 Cincinnati Directory on Sander Street, walking distance to Grandma’s apartment.  From St. George School, it was an easy walk down Calhoun Street to Hughes Corner and then up three flights of steps, and by then I was allowed to walk there by myself.

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