They were born eleven days and far apart. One in Chicago. The other in a postage stamp sized town in southern Illinois.
City boy meets country girl.
She was born on April 10th, he on April 21st.
They were children of immigrants. His father was a butcher. He came from Sicily to Brooklyn and entered the immigrant pipeline to Chicago. He worked and saved until he could open his own shop.
When he got cancer, he decided to go home to see his family. The war broke out and he was refused reentry back into the United States. He died and is buried in the small village he was born in. Weeks later, a letter arrived informing his family he would be allowed back into the United States.
Her father worked in the coal mines and did other jobs men in rural communities do. They had a small subsistence farm. During prohibition he, like many others, made beer, wine, and booze. He had nine children to feed and clothe.
The family opened a "restaurant" in their home serving food and liquor. After prohibition, the family moved to St. Louis where he opened a tavern.
Times were tough, yet the families prevailed.
There are a few stories how the city boy and country girl met. The only constants are mutual friends and relatives living in both places.
They married and lived in Chicago. They worked hard.
He went off to war. She worked in a factory producing communications equipment for the war effort. After the war, he became a butcher, like his father. When the children came, she stayed home.
They bought a home, like many did back then. It was their pride and joy. The house was their piece of the American dream.
He eventually opened his own butcher shop. A few years later supermarkets put him and others out of business. He went to work loading trucks. She went back to the factory.
There were good times and hard times. The couple had a work ethic. Hard work was the key to a successful life. Though neither had much formal education, they were intelligent, literate, and well read.
They had friends from all walks of life. Wealthy people, professionals, working people, and some who were less fortunate. Poor was not word used in the home.
They did not go out much. Social events were weddings, wakes, and holiday feasts. When they were not working they were puttering around the house. Cleaning, making improvements, making repairs, painting, planting, and the usual household chores.
They never asked for much. A roof over their heads, food on the table, clothes on the family's back, and the hope their children would do better than they did.
Life went on. The kids grew up. They retired.
Like many families, tragedy struck. He became a quadriplegic due to a drunk driver. She took care of him at home until he passed.
She lived on in that house until she was convinced she could not live alone anymore. She was 96 when she died.
His name was Vincent. Her name was Angeline.
I called them mom and dad.
They were born 100 years ago this month.
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