Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mrs Sullivan

In my childhood neighborhood of Shadyside(1950-60 and beyond), near the southwest corner of Ellsworth and College Avenues lived the Sullivan family. Irish immigrants. Mr and Mrs Sullivan had accents; Mrs Sullivan's Irish accent was very thick. Mr Sullivan's less so.
Our area of Pittsburgh was an unique mix of Republican & Democrat, rich, upper middle and mid middle class, lower middle class & a few poor people. It was an area of predominently white, long established, families. There was a sizeable bunch of university students and artists called, at the time in the 1950s, BEATNICS and ageing BOHEMIENS( late 1930s and 1940s hipsters) renting rooms and apartments and some whole houses from the traditional inhabitants. The neighborhood along Ellsworth Avenue from Spahr Street to the east and Sumerlea Street to the west was scattered with local bussinesses, one Kroger's supermarket, coffeeehouses and a few art galleries.
But this is about Mrs Sullivan. She was a slighjtly stout Irish woman in her late forties when i was 7-10 years old. She had a husband and 2 sons.teenagers, when I was under 10 years old. All VERY conservative and highly prejudiced, Mrs Sullivan, though was an angel!
She would always have ALL of the neighborhood children and teens in for soda, tea, popcorn, TV, Radio listening(drama & comedy were still big on the radio in those days)and such, no matter the race or class. In the winter she made killer hot cocoa, toddies, baked potatoe with cream cheese, Irish soups and dishes like tripe & Shibleens and in the summer she made us all kinds of Kool-Aid, dairy drinks(and malteds), hot dogs, corn on the cob, marshmallow, pocorn, ice cream, ice cream floats, milkshakes, etc.
A wonderful woman. Her husband would say, drunkenly in front of us, "Why do you have to let the niggerkids come in with the rest ?"
She would say that that is why she married him and followed him to the U.S., so that she could live in such a way! He would tell her she was a liberal Poliana and to "wise up", but she perservered in her path! Bless her!!!
Years later in the late 1960s I was a hippie, her sons, cast more in the likeness of their father, were conservatives and we went our separate ways.
She died around 1971. RIP, Mrs Sullivan!

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