Sunday, July 26, 2009


July 26, 1918 was my fathers birthday. He grew up during the Great Depression. When he was about four years ago his father died, he, his brother and his mother had to fend for themselves.

picturesbyclaudia 260 picturesbyclaudia 273

He looks serious even in this picture. I figure he looks to be about 3 or 4 months old. He is propped up in the picture, so that means he is unable to sit up by himself.

I do not think he remembered anything about his father. What he did say is the only thing he did right in his eyes was insist that Gertrude O’Rourke Dowd named him Thomas after his father and grandfather. Gertrude wanted to name him Malcolm. I like Thomas better myself.

His father died when he had fallen down a flight of steps, and I believe alcohol was involved in the death. My father did not drink and refused to have it in our house.

My father always would fight with his brother Richard.picturesbyclaudia 265

Richard Dowdpicturesbyclaudia 272

Thomas Dowd

After his fathers death Gertrude moved the family back to her parents home and had to go to work. She worked in the Westinghouse Electric Plant in East Pittsburgh PA. She had said her job was a “winder”, so I am surmising that she was winding the coils for the motors that they made.

My grandmother was only in her late twenties and I suppose she wanted to go out and her father Patrick O’Rourke was strict and told her to stay at home with her children. Gertrude told a story of how one evening she wanted to go to a dance. So, she climbed out on the porch roof and threw down her coat, which landed on her fathers head. She said she got beaten for this escapade and did not go to the dance.

Both my father and grandmother said Patrick was “mean.” This is a picture of Thomas in the yard of his grandparents.picturesbyclaudia 269

Gertrude held back my father from going to school so he and his brother Richard could start together. That would put my dad at about the age of 7 or 8 when he started to school. They would walk uphill to St Williams Catholic School in East Pittsburgh PA.

She made Thomas responsible to Richard and they would fight because my dad was punctual and Richard would lollygag. One dad he did not wait and went on while Richard was dallying as usual. Dad made it to school and a while later Richard arrived and went to the back of the classroom and hit

my dad on his head. The Sister told Gertrude that “Thomas has the patience of a saint.”

It is hard to believe today that Thomas or any child of that age would have the responsibility of someone two years younger. They would have CYS investigating and call it child neglect and child abuse.

To be continued.

picturesbyclaudia 274

My dad and grandfather.


  1. I'm sorry for your loss... I love how you share the unvarnished truth in this story about your Dad. I lost my Dad 4 years ago and struggle a little about what to share sometimes. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I loved this entry you made! Your dad grew up much like my mama and daddy and as matter of fact, myself.
    thanks for this reminder...
    God bless,