One of the kindest things…

Memories from Mary Anne Zeitler

Mom’s second child, Robert Warren Zeitler (Buddy), was born in 1939. Her doctor wasn’t available for the delivery so another doctor came to the house. He announced that Buddy was still-born, saying he was a “blue baby”. He wrapped the baby in a blanket and placed him on a bench in the closed- in back porch. Shortly after, Mom’s doctor arrived, saw the baby on the bench and resuscitated him. This was written up in the paper with the headline “Local Doctor Saves Infant”.

When Buddy was nearly a year old he developed pneumonia. The doctor told Dad to drive to Butler to pick up a prescription for Sulfa, a new drug that had just been released to treat pneumonia. In the meantime Mom was to give Buddy a “mustard bath” to help bring down the fever. While she was doing this, and Dad was driving to Butler, Buddy died. Mom dried him off, dressed him, wrapped him in a blanket and held him as Dad drove them to the funeral home in East Brady. The day of the funeral , Mom came home to find that the neighbors had come into the house and packed up all of Buddy’s things – clothes, crib, baby toys, etc.- and stored them in the attic so she didn’t have to do that. She said it was one of the kindest things anyone had ever done for her.

Never stop going to the library…

Memories from Mary Anne Zeitler

Mom was shopping in Butler and jay-walked at the main intersection where there was a police officer standing in the middle directing traffic. He blew his whistle at her. Mom said, “I hope you choke on that God-damn whistle”.  He then wrote her up and she had to pay a fine. She often told this story and laughed every time!

As John wrote in the biography, Mom was very concerned about our education. She loved to play Scrabble and would set up the game on the kitchen table and play with us as kids as she ironed. I remember the plastic laundry basket filled with dampened and rolled clothes and how she would stop ironing when it was her turn. She wanted us to always spell words correctly and would make up spelling games. I remember her offering a quarter to the first one of the four us who spelled “squirrel” correctly. Den won!

Mom read to us long before the importance of reading to children was confirmed. She would sit on the step into our room and read a chapter every night to Dennis and me. I remember her reading Heidi, The Little Prince, etc.  She had an old book of poetry she read to us, too. Her favorite was “Abou Ben Adhem” and we memorized it and would recite it to each other. She also made certain I had a library card when I was very young and I walked to the library every week. I remember reading  “Little Black Sambo” (now banned, but my favorite and read repeatedly because it was about pancakes!) while she was reading whatever new book I would bring home for her. Once I returned my books late – library was open very limited hours – and I had to pay a 50 cent fine. Dad said I couldn’t go to the library anymore because I couldn’t remember to return my books. Mom said, “Don’t you EVER stop going to the library!”….and I’m still going! Thanks, Mom!

Anna Marie (Hile) Zeitler – A short biography by John Zeitler

Anna Marie Hile was born December 3, 1916 to Warren (1866-1953) and Theresa Rettig Hile (1887-1962) in East Brady, Pa. Her maternal grandparents were August (b 1847) and Barbara Rush Rettig (b. 1847 in Pa). August was born near Hamburg Germany and came to the USA accompanied only by his brother, also a teenager. August landed in NYC and enlisted in the army. At the end of the Civil War he got a job laying railroad track in Western Pa where he met Barbara. Theresa was the fourth of their six children. AM’s paternal grandparents were Simon (1831-1912) and Rachel Layton Hile (1843-1918). Simon was shot in the hand in the Civil war. Warren was the third of nine children.
Warren tended the draft animals that hauled coal out of the mine. He played the fiddle (hence the nickname “Cloggy”. He wore starched white shirts. Theresa raised the children, baked, cleaned and took in laundry. They never spoke after their last child was born though they shared a house and she cooked and cleaned for him. AM was sixth of  eight children. Her sibs were:
  1. Merrill (1903-1975) Married Mary Kelly and had Nat and Mary Theresa
  2. Agnes (1905-1966) married Paddy McLaughlin and had Paddy and Terry
  3. Frances (Hank)(b. 1907) married Cora Sayers, then Nellie Wilson with whom he had Elizabeth (Bunny), Tom and Chris, and then Phyllis Snow with whom he had Tim
  4. Rosalie(1911-1995)  who married Guy Bish and had Jeri, then Ray Peck with whom she had  Tim and Ginny
  5. James (1913-1951) never married. Bomber gunner in WW II.  Died in auto accident
  6. Anna Marie
  7. Elizabeth (Bessie)  (1919-1943) Never married. Died in Bicycle accident
  8. Aldine (1930-2015) Married Tom Lipinski
Guy Bish, Rhody’s husband, introduced George and AM. They eloped to West Virginia in October of 1936. They rented a farm in West Sunbury and George worked in the Annadale limestone mine. Mike was born in 1937, then Robert (Buddy) in 1939. Buddy died within a year. John was born in 1940. They lived there six years until George took a job at Koppers and got drafted. AM moved to an apartment in East Brady which was overrun with mice. So she moved to the apartment above Pete Henry’s garage for a year or so till George got home. They then bought an old McClain house on E. First St.  for $4500. The house needed considerable repair and updating. They worked on it the rest of AM’s life. The coal stove in the living room was replaced with a coal furnace in the basement. The kitchen was redone. New water system was put in. A new room and bath were added. House was scraped, painted and reroofed. AM made a wonderful home from that old house. Mary Anne was born in 1946, Dennis in 1948, Joseph in 1950, and Andrew in 1954. AM took pride in her appearance and kept herself trim and attractive.
AM life was taken up caring for her husband, kids and house. Yet she managed to keep up various friendships with family and other women. She seldom went anywhere with friends. They came to her, or they talked on the phone. She didn’t socialize with George because George’s friends were either workmates or dog enthusiasts. She was never accepted by George’s family so her visits there were short and formal.
She did have a job at the school correcting papers. She liked to read and encouraged her kids to read. She was almost obsessed with having her kids get a college education and get out of town.
She was a good baker; bread, cakes and cookies being her specialties. She was a meat and potatoes kind of cook. Always lots of nutritious food. Nothing fancy.
AM was not overtly religious though she did attend Mass regularly and saw to it that the kids attended catechism, etc. She encouraged some of them to be altar servers.
When she was diagnosed with breast cancer about age 46 she underwent extensive surgeries and brutal radiation as the cancer would go into remission then appear somewhere else. She had some good years after the diagnosis and traveled to visit her kids.
She died  at her home of 30 years in 1976 at age 60.

Creative Problem Solving

Memories from Mary Anne Zeitler, Anna Marie’s daughter

I remember Mom’s creative problem solving. When I was in fourth grade I was sick and missed school a few days. The day I returned the teacher said all the children had made puppets and would be performing a Thanksgiving puppet show that afternoon.I would not be able to participate because I didn’t have a puppet. When I went home for lunch I told mom. While I ate a bowl of tomato soup (all of 10 minutes) Mom took an old sock, scraps of material, buttons and a paper napkin and make the best Pilgrim puppet ever.

When I was in 7th grade I still went home for lunch every day. One day we were told to bring a “brown bag lunch” the next day for a special student meeting during lunch.  That morning I was packing my lunch but we had no brown lunch bags – all we had to put a lunch in was an old plastic bread bag. ..which just wouldn’t do.  Mom took a 5lb. bag of sugar, dumped the sugar in a bowl, turned the bag inside out and I had a brown lunch bag! I never open a bag of sugar that I don’t wonder how Mom ever thought to do that!

Al and Sadie Murray were celebrating their wedding anniversary and Mom offered to make them a cake for the occasion. Mom took the plain round mirror off the living room wall, made a three tiered cake for on it and then decorated the cake with flowers from the garden. It was beautiful and I got to carry it down the street to Murray’s. How proud I was to deliver that cake!

Sunmaid Raisins ‘Don’t Bake Out’

A cooking show on KDKA TV ran a contest for Sunmaid raisins about 1954. Whoever wrote the best short essay about their raisins won.
Mom wrote on a postcard “I like Sunmaid raisins because they don’t bake out”. Mom, Dad and I appeared on the show to accept first prize. The chef that day made sweet potato pie and watched me eat it. I thought it was terrible.
Mom won a fox stole, a year’s supply of laundry detergent, a set of luggage, an all expense paid weekend trip to NYC for two, etc. Since Mom was eight months pregnant Dad and I flew to NYC, stayed at the New Yorker Hotel, took various sight-seeing tours and had a grand time.
-John