As a result of drinking bootlegged alcohol during Prohibition my father, at age 19, became totally blind. Two of his buddies died. He was sent to and graduated from Batavia School for the Blind where he learned a variety of skills—reading braille, typing, playing guitar, piano-tuning, dialing a rotary phone—even though we didn’t get telephone service on the Cattaraugus Reservation until the mid-1950s. My Mom was skeptical of modern conveniences, so my Dad always dialed the rotary phone for her.
My Dad worked at the Buffalo Goodwill Industries. One skill he learned at BSB that kept food on the table for nine mouths to feed was caning. People from all over Western New York brought beautiful, one-of-a-kind, antique chairs to our home for him to work on. This was in addition to his full time job at Goodwill. Five days a week he boarded the Greyhound bus to make the 80 mile roundtrip between Gowanda and Buffalo.
My parents were exceptionally resourceful, hard-working, and creative. The blankets in our home were nondescript-utilitarian, rather than fine or decorative. I suspect that they were purchased at the Goodwill, brought home, washed and hung to dry on the clothesline.
I recall one blanket in particular. It was wool and well worn. My Mom loved the deep vibrant maroon color so they brought it home. After washing the blanket, my Mom tore it into 1” wide strips and constructed a most beautiful oval braided rug. My sisters—Marjorie and Joanne—and I enjoyed many hours sitting on that wool braided rug and making and playing paper dolls cut from Sears and Roebuck catalogues. My sister Joanne even took the paper dolls swimming in an 8” cake pan at which time the paper dolls disintegrated into mush!!
Good times. Good laughs. Good memories!