They say that the G E Company whistle blew every morning at 7:00 am, in Lynn, Massachusetts!! Well, on Saturday, April 10, 1920, I, Rose Lillian. Sullivan, entered this world just as the 7:00 o’clock whistle blew, so I was told! Saturday’s child, “a child of work” or something like that! We (3), father Daniel J. Sullivan, mother Julia Ann (Hooper) Sullivan, and I lived in a 3-story tenement house at 9 W Neptune Street, West Lynn, Mass. It was near the back gate to the GE company.
I was a sickly child. The Dr. even stayed all night several times. Anyway, he finally told my parents that I needed to get out of West Lynn (W. Neptune Street) and away from the swampy area and into a more dry area of town. My parents went house hunting, and bought a 2-story house in East Lynn—35 Pacific Street.
I guess I was about 5 or 6 years old when I entered 1st grade at S. Patrick’s school in W Lynn. I loved the Sisters as they wore white gowns. I paid no attention to anything but “story time”. I would run home at recess time so I think they said I wasn’t ready for school!
After moving to East Lynn, I entered 1st grade at Aborne School. It was about 6 houses up from my home at 35 Pacific Street. My 1st grade teacher was young and pretty & I loved her and school then. My father took care of me on Saturdays while mom worked at Connelly’s Candy Store. I would get dressed up and we would take the streetcar down town on many Saturdays. We would go to F. W. Woolworth’s 5 & 10 cents store. Dad would spend hours (it seemed to me) picking over parts for his crystal radio sets. Then we would go and get a hotdog & a glass of root beer! I couldn’t wait to get this lunch. Next we walked around the corner to the Olympia Theater to see the vaudeville acts. I enjoyed that too! The movies, usually one of Charlie Chaplain’s were in black and white with no sound. I couldn’t read the subtitles, so I would walk the aisles back and forth until dad made me sit down again.
At the end of the summer of 1932 came fall, and that meant that I was moving on to Jr. High school. Another great school - Eastern Junior High School! I had to walk about a mile to Jr. High. There were 3 of us from Pacific Street in the same grade, so we walked along together. What a thrill it was for me to have a “home room” teacher and to go from class to class and to have different teachers for each subject! My homeroom teacher was a handsome young shop work teacher by the name of James Patrick O’Leary. Of course, all the girls were in love with him! I enjoyed all my classes and received good grades there, and graduated in the summer of 1935.
The next big step for me was High School, which for me was Lynn English High School. It was a fairly new high school with about 500 students graduating each year. The other high school was in W Lynn and they also had about 500 graduates each year. The same group of us kids kept on walking to High School. It was at least a mile each way. I took college courses as my mom and dad always said if I got good grades and wanted to, they would send me to college.
Yes, I had to study hard and did get the grades to enter Framingham State Teacher’s College - without taking an entrance test! While there, I had to live on campus and only came home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter breaks, and of course, summer vacation.
That first summer, I worked full time for 6 days a week for Woolworth’s 5c & 10c store for about $18 per week. The second summer, I took a job with AT&T. That was the year the dial telephone was replacing the good old telephone operator. It paid well and we were all college students doing that job. We had to go house to house to instruct people to listen for the dial tone and then dial the number of the person they were calling.
In my senior year, we had to do our “practical teaching”. I was assigned to a small country school and taught in the 7th and 8th grades. My classes included sewing and cooking classes 5 days / week. For my teaching time, I had to travel back and forth to the school by bus each day. The cooks at college kept my dinner warm for me for whenever I returned in the evening from my practice teaching. Then on December 7th the Japanese bombed our Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the nation was at war.
By the time my graduation rolled around in the summer of 1942, my sweetheart was in the Navy and could not make the ceremony. However, Ray was stationed in Boston, so we decided to get married before he was shipped out to Posts unknown. God was good to us, though, and he was assigned to South Weymouth Naval Air station where he worked in the air traffic control tower. From this station, blimps headed out to sea to patrol for German submarine U-Boats, which were sinking Allied merchant ships along the coast. We set our wedding date to August 9th, 1942.
In 1950, Ray, a reservist, was recalled to active duty and shipped out to Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, Hawaii. After a while, once Ray was settled there and could find housing for us, the three of us (son Ray and daughter Beverly joined me) headed out to join him. So we left our home in Wakefield, MA, and traveled by train on the “California Zephyr” to California. There we transferred to sea transportation and sailed off to Hawaii.
A year later, we returned to Wakefield, and Ray found a work in the US Post Office. We stayed in Wakefield until the summer of 1957, and we moved to St. Petersburg, FL, where Ray transferred to continue work with the Post Office. Ray started there as a “substitute” and advanced to become one of the first supervisors of the new automated “letter sorting” machines.
Our next arrival, this one in St. Petersburg was daughter Rose Mary, born Feb 9th, 1960. Florida was great for all of us. Son Ray went on to the University of Florida and eventually earned his PhD in University Administration. Beverly went on to Miami Jackson Hospital in Miami, Florida for an RN certification in Nursing, and Rose Mary began her post high school education at the University of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, AZ and later finishing with a Masters degree from the University of South Florida. We had an Arizona connection in Flagstaff, where Beverly was living, liked it there, and so we moved to Sedona, Arizona, along with my parents Daniel (DJ) and Julia Sullivan. We lived in Sedona for about 3 years, and then moved back to St. Petersburg, FL.
The good Lord has been so good to me - giving me a truly wonderful loving husband, three great children, and 52 years & 5 months of marriage. I will always miss him. Since his death, my children have been so great to me - loving, kind, and thoughtful, all any mother could ask. I have been blessed with my children and their families:
Ray & Becki Holbrook, and their children, David (wife Mariane) (great-grandchildren Aleksandar, Ayessa, Kaitlyn, and Phoebe), and Andrew (wife Monica and great-grandson Billy Mannino)
Bev & Chip Rowe, and their children, Major Shannon Mawson (USMC) (great-grandson Hunter Mawson), Erin Orndorff (husband Nathan) (great-granddaughter Bella), Emily Biehl (husband Rod) (great-grandchildren Madison, Jackson, and Cameron), Allison Kopp (husband, Allen) (great-grandchildren Johnathon and Jacquelyn), and Carlye Rowe
Rose Mary & Jim Smoot, and their children, Megan Rivera (husband TJ), Evan Spriggs (wife Rachael) (great-grandson Jaxon), Justin Smoot, and Cassie Smoot
In closing, I smile to myself when I visit my children. They treat me like “a very old piece of Irish china” who might break if they don’t guide me! I love them all - what a special gift! Love is so important, and the Holbrook clan has shown so much love throughout - parents, children, aunts & uncles, cousins, grandchildren, brothers and sisters. Please don’t ever forget to “Love one another as I have loved you.”