One story my father told me, was confirmed by my Uncle Frank (about 20yrs ago) and told to me again by my aunt, a couple years before she died.
December 1939: Papa John was dead, and Emily had six children to raise as a single parent during WWII. Five boys: Frank (11yo), Howard (9), Jack (6), Danny (almost 3) and foster son, Bill (8); and one daughter, Elaine (9mos).
This story happened during the winter months, and before Elaine was old enough to go to school — so prior to March 1944.
Each of her sons had gotten into some serious trouble with the police, and Emily had finally lost it!
She helped dress Elaine for the cold weather as she instructed the boys to do the same. When asked why, she replied fiercely: “We’re going out!”
Once dressed and out the door, Emily took Elaine by the hand and led the way. The walked across town — about an hour’s walk in nice weather — to the orphanage!
“Au revoir,” she said quietly, as she opened the gate. [French = “Goodbye.”]
“Go,” she emphasized, looking into the eyes of each child from the youngest to the oldest.
“You won’t listen to me,” she continued dejected, “So maybe you will listen to them.”
Elaine let go of her mother’s hand and dropped to the ground, sitting in the snow, bawling. Elaine was loud enough that she attracted the attention of the administrators of the orphanage, as they watched the odd-looking scene from the office window.
Danny and Jack joined Elaine in one last chorus, before the older boys told their mother, they would behave and wanted to return home.
When her daughter’s wails began to subside, Emily took her hand and led her and her sons back home.
It wasn’t until about 30 years later, when the topic of “the Orphanage Walk” came up at the dinner table with all her children and grandchildren present.
“You were gonna give them all away, Gramma?” one of us — the grandchildren — asked in shock and disbelief.
Emily nodded, as she patted her mouth with her dinner napkin, before giving up a little smirk and shaking her head.
“No, Dearie,” she said, “I couldn’t do it, but I was interested to see who would have walked through the gate to the orphanage door. It was a very long walk, after all.”
Many of us — the older grandchildren — huddled to deliberate if the Old Girl was telling the truth, as our parents snickered.
“You thought you were outnumbered, before, Maman,” Jack teased. “Fifteen to One, this time around!”
“Non, non, non, mon fils ,” [“No, no, no, my son”] Emily smiled, as she got up from her seat and went into the kitchen.
A moment later she came back with a turkey platter … but it didn’t contain turkey, but a thick, chocolate cake with a strawberry jam center!
“Who is still hungry?” she smiled looking at her young audience playing judge and jury.
The huddle broke and the younger ones went screaming “Me! Me! ME!” with frantic jumping the closer they got to her.
“I think I am forgiven,” she replied to her son, as she passed out pieces of cake.
“Only until the cake runs out, Mom.”