What was the happiest moment of your life?
“That is easy.” When I got married. I was married in 1955 to Larry. We met when I was in nursing school. We originally started playing Scrabble at the mess hall where we were both studying. We play Scrabble together to this day. We have been married now 65 years.
Who has been most influential in your life?
I would say my mother, Agnes. She was a strong person. When she lived in Austria, she went by Ines. When she moved to the USA, they called her Agnes.
My mother was born in the USA. When her father died from pneumonia while working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, she moved back to Tyrol, Austria to be with her family. In 1926, when she was 18 years old, she moved back to the USA with my Aunt Lydia as her sponsor in Joliet, Illinois. She had two dollars in her pocket and did not speak any English. When she arrived, she went through Ellis Island in New York and waited patiently for my aunt to pick her up.
My mother was a very strong person. When she was younger, she worked in a nursing home as a cook. She was a great cook. She was also very skilled in math. She was the bookkeeper of her small family business, and they were very successful. My mother learned English by reading the daily newspaper and children’s books to my brothers, Herman and John, and me. She was quick to learn new things.
What advice or quote did you always try to live by?
“There are a lot of them.” I suppose right now: “You only have one life. Make it good.”
I also remember my father telling me something his own mother told him, when he went to emigrate to the USA from Tyrol, Austria. She told him: “You must never lose your religion. Do whatever you want over there, but don’t lose your religion.”Another that has helped me: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I think it is a simple and popular reminder to practice kindness in your life.
What is one memory from your past you cherish?
A memory I will always cherish is when Daddy (Larry) and I visited my parents’ hometown in Italy. We took a train to Tyrol. When my parents lived there, it was a part of Austria. After WWII, it became a part of Italy. Everyone there is healthy. It is so beautiful in the mountains. It is hard not to live well there.
Any regrets or advice you’d give to a younger you?
No, I do not have regrets.I feel like everything I did was easy. Every job I wanted, I got. I was very lucky.I remember I got a job to work in the hospital in Evanston, Illinois after WWII, working on the paraplegia unit for young men who were veterans. My boss came to me and asked me, “How would you like to stay on in the paraplegia unit working Mondays and Fridays only? There would be no holidays.” It was the best job I could have hoped for. I also had a great team. I worked with a group of young black men who were trained as nurses’ aides. It was a wonderful experience. There has never been a more caring bunch of people than those men to care for our wounded veterans.
Anything else you wish to share?
I want to mention. I was always satisfied. I remember my dad used to say this: “I am always satisfied, Rosemary.” It has helped me live my life well without regrets.