An Interview With...
Mildred Connor LaGue
Wife and Mother
Where did your parents come from, what did they do and what do you remember most about them?
My father, John Connor, was born in Ireland. My mother, Catherine Redmond, was born in Glasgow, Scotland. My mother was a house wife and she was very pious and holy. She was also very strict with us children. She worked hard to take care of our large family. My father was a butcher and he was very soft spoken, sweet and kind. He too was a hardworking person.
Where were you born and how many children were in your family? What were your favorite activities as a child?
I was born at home in Lowell, Massachusetts with a doctor assisting. All seven other children were born with a midwife assisting. The doctor told my Mother she should not have any more children after me. I was the baby of the family. All my brothers and sisters had middle names but I didn't. I always figured they sort of ran out of names.
My sister, Gertrude, and I were very close. We sang harmony together. She was the shy one. I sort of took charge which pleased her. When we got our chores and homework done, we got to go out and play - Hide and Seek, Hop Scotch, jump rope, tag, etc.
When I was small, we lived upstairs in a tenement house in Lowell, Massachusetts. We were there until I was thirteen. Then we moved to a better side of town. My parents bought a home. It was quite lovely… pear trees in the back yard, bedrooms upstairs.
Mother would take us to the beach on the street car. She would pack a lunch and we could go in the water with our skirts pinned up. We never owned a bathing suit in those days. The only long trip we took was when my father died. He was killed in an auto accident. He was a pedestrian and he was hit by a car. He had a fractured skull and did not regain consciousness. It was such a shock to all of us, especially my Mother. We had to take her to Oregon from Massachusetts. I was seventeen. That was a big trip but a very sad one. My older sister lived there and the doctor said that was what we had to do for Mother. She came out of it fine eventually.
Did you speak any other language besides English in your home?
No, except my Mother's cute Scotch brogue and my father's slight Irish lilt. He could put it on when he wanted to.
What do you remember about your school years? What did you want to be when you grew up?
I loved school. I had many friends there. We always walked to school. I read everything I could get my hands on. I didn't have any particular favorite books or stories. Sorry to say, I only had two years of secondary school. I always wanted to perform – singing, dancing, etc. I did not get much of a chance except when we had company – playing the piano and imitating people. I was always picked to play a part when something was going on at school. I sang the soprano part at graduation from the ninth grade. That was very special.
What did you and your family use for transportation when you were growing up?
We used our good strong legs most of the time. Once in a while, we rode the street car.
What songs and dances were popular?
The songs my folks sang - Old Mill Stream, For Me and My Gal – I remember I played that one on the piano from the music. I usually made up by ear what I played.
As a teenager, how did you get along with your parents?
We sort of had to do as we were told. I got a little cockey when I was 18. I decided I would stop turning my checks over to my mother. Then the big fight started: I would have to pay board or move out. We all started to pay board at that time. I never did move out until I got married.
Did your family have enough money? Was it ever a concern for you?
I'm sure it was not too easy for them. The older ones went to work as soon as they were old enough, and went to night school to keep up with their education. By the time I went to work, I paid my mother board and room. Before that, the other children always gave Mother what they made. My mother knew how to save money.
What holidays did you celebrate when you were a child?
We only celebrated Christmas, Easter and St. Patrick's Day. Christmas, as I remember, we had no stockings, but of course we sang Christmas Carols. When we had company, we always got to go into the parlor with the good furniture, piano, and our best behavior of course. We usually didn't celebrate birthdays but always a verbal "Happy Birthday". I only had one birthday party – for my thirteenth birthday. My mother gave me a gold locket and a chain. I gave it to my granddaughter Cindy when she was 12. I had a party with a few boys and girls. The girls brought personal items and the boys each brought a cup and saucer. I saved them all my life and now my granddaughter Michelle has them.
I think the best gift I ever got was a collie puppy, from my brother Tom, when I was sixteen. All I ever seemed to give was my love – I did not have much else to give.
My mother made scratch scones on top of the coal stove lids – they were great. She also made great mince pies and homemade bread. Wow! Good!!
What honors or educational degrees have you earned?
No educational degrees, but I have earned the honor of being a Mother... three times.
What is your earliest memory, going back as far as you can?
I remember when I went to school, kindergarten. I fell up the steps and got a bloody nose. The teacher carried me around in her arms for a long time, boy, did I love that!
How did you meet your husband?
We met at a church group dance… Yes- across a crowded room! My brother belonged to the Club, and when Chester Joseph LaGue asked me to dance, I had to get permission from my brother. We were new in town.
Chet and I were both 18 when we met. When we were courting, we went to very nice places. He was very attentive, polite, charming, good looking. This was great for me because we did not know too many people. We went dancing very often – we won a prize for a waltz at a church picnic but that was after we were married.
When we married, I wore a white long dress. I had it made by a dressmaker. Satin back crepe was the material. I also wore a long white veil with orange blossom headdress. We did not send out invitations. I paid for most everything myself. It was a small crowd, because it was a Tuesday. The only people from work that could come were those who had the day off.
What are your favorite pastimes or hobbies?
Playing the piano – crocheting afghans. I have made so many. I love to do this. I used to love bowling in a league.
Have you ever met anyone famous?
Yes, quite a few: Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, Jean Harlow, Dick Powell, Shirley Temple and her mother, Dinah Shore, Joey Brown, Bill Robinson, Lawrence Welk, Archbishop Manning at our 50th Wedding Anniversary, Dennis Day and Carol Channing.
In times of trouble, who or what has helped you pull through?
My faith in God – prayer is so important to me. St. Anthony, St. Jude. Blessed Mother and many more who help me.
[Mildred "Nana" LaGue is the grandmother of Imagiverse co-founder Michelle Mock. She passed away, at the age of 97, a few months before Imagiverse was launched but was very supportive of the project as it was being developed. This interview was done several years before she passed and she would undoubtedly be "pleased as punch" to see her words on-line. Her favorite saying: "Love Ya! ok?" We love you too, Nana! Ok?]
- 6 August 2005
6 August 2005
© 2005 - Imagiverse Educational Consortium