But let’s go way back to the early part of the 20th century. My great-grandparents, Edward Yates and Lillian (nee Archer-pictured) had four children who lived past infancy: Gert, Ed, Ernie and Deana. Edward died by 1920. Gert fell in love with a guy named Clarence Williams, got married, and had a child, Gertie (my mom, who I’ll refer to as Trudy, because that’s what she later called herself.) Well, Lillian didn’t approve of Clarence, a baseball player in the Negro Leagues, for reasons not clear to me, and apparently drove him away. So my mother was raised by her grandmother, her mother and Aunt Deana. The primary male role model for her was Ed, since Ernie had gotten married and started raising a family. Lillian died c 1937, but by then the damage to Gert and Clarence’s relationship had been done, I gather.
Ed fought in World War II and everyone was proud of him. I remember seeing his picture in uniform on a mirror in the house Gert and Deana shared when I was growing up. But just as my grandmother stopped talking to another relative when he started having children with a woman without the benefit of matrimony, so too did she pretty much disown her brother Ed when he started living with this woman named Edna in the mid-1960s. And I suppose that was her right, though I found it sad. And peculiar too, since she wasn’t really that much of a religious person; I can tally on one hand the number of times she went to church while I was growing up.
What I found more painful, though, is that Gert requested/demanded that Trudy, who was an adult, to have nothing to do with Ed either, and she capitulated to that. I know that, except in passing – they lived only four blocks away – I never saw them.
Then, in 1970, we got a call to rush to the hospital; Ed was dying. We got there after he passed away; he was the first dead person I had ever seen not in a casket. My burning recollection is of Gert and Edna crying on each other’s shoulders at Ed’s funeral. Edna died within a couple years of Ed.
Want to read an uplifting tale of an Ed and Edna? Go HERE.