Parents

My parents, William (Bill) Keating and Anne Pierson were born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up there, attending brother-sister schools, Polly Prep and Packer Collegiate Institute. They probably had known each other since grade school.

Mother often spoke of her many ‘beaus’ (boy-friends in today’s vernacular) but I never heard my father speak of his girl-friends. Judging from the early photos of him, I’m sure he had a few. They moved in the same social circle or of pre-World War I Brooklyn and New York. Dad’s family had started a plumbing supply business in the 1890s and my mother’s father was a successful banker.

World War I disrupted their courtship and perhaps hastened their engagement; they were married December 5, 1918, just after the Armistice. They spent a few months in Washington, D.C. until Dad was mustered out of the Navy. He had graduated from Yale’s engineering school in 1914. After a short time working for an engineering firm in New Jersey, he joined a brokerage firm on Wall Street. The early 1920s were the right time for this move and he was able to pay back his mother the $35,000 loan for his membership in The New York Stock Exchange in just 18 months! (His father, at age 40 died of a burst appendix in 1900, when Dad was only four.)

Soon my parents moved to Garden City on Long Island, first renting a house and then, after four boys were born, moving into a Tudor-style, 5 master bedroom home my father built, also in Garden City. The commute to New York City was about an hour.

An all-around sportsman, he enjoyed tennis and golf and excelled at sailing. I remember him teaching me to sail n an old wooden sloop that required a lot of ‘T.L.C.’, but would never tip over. After working with the five other children, his patience was very good and his instruction firm and given with humor.

About 1927, my father went to his father-in-law for advice about selling his Stock Exchange membership and setting up a contracting business on Long Island. (He had already built three houses on speculation and the local Post Office.) Unfortunately, my grandfather advised against it. My father was swept up in The Market’s ‘crash’ of 1929 and lost a lot of money. He never recovered from this catastrophe and died an alcoholic in 1955.

Sadly, my mother did not know how to cope with this situation and tried to hide his condition, only hastening his demise.

Lois Learned
Southbury, CT © 2013

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