In Her Words
Candid profiles of strength told by the women of Northbridge
Throughout the month of March we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.
Doris’s Story (Resident of Sunnybrook)
What is your name:
What are the names of your parents and brothers and sisters?
My parents were Frank and Gertrude and I was an only child.
How did your parents choose your name? Does it have a special meaning? Did you have any nicknames?
My mother chose my name because she wanted a name that was not popular.
When and where were you born?
I was born in 1921 in Brooklyn, New York
What kinds of things did your family do together when you were young?
My parents liked to play golf. My father cut down some clubs to my size so I could play with them. We went to the beach at Coney Island, and I got very scared riding the roller coaster over the ocean. We took walks that ended at the Bronx Zoo, were a huge brass lion had one very shiny paw that all the children rubbed.
What did you love to do with your friends?
I liked to talk and laugh with my girlfriends, sing songs and jump rope. I roller-skated on single- wheel skates, and I went sledding down snowy streets in the Winter.
What schools did you attend? What were your favorite subjects?
I went to Catholic School, St. Nicholas of Tolentine in the Bronx for grammar and high school. I liked reading the most. I earned my R.N. at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and was valedictorian.
If married, what is/was your husband’s name? How did he propose?
My husband Edward proposed to me while taking a walk in Central Park. I don’t remember the exact words he said. This year we celebrated our 73rd wedding anniversary.
What are your children’s names?
We have two sons, Michael and Frank, and three daughters, Nancy, Kathleen, and Patricia.
What are some special memories you have about your children?
Early on, we lived near a small lake, and went swimming every day. We also lived at the Jersey shore and swam in the ocean many summers. Having a yard and garden was new for me, and as I learned to grow flowers and berries and tomatoes I taught the children too. I took them to museums, zoos and Broadway shows in NYC.
Where have you lived?
I’m a New Yorker, I grew up in Brooklyn and the Bronx. After marrying, we raised our children in New Jersey, and six years ago moved to Maine to be closer to our children.
Have you had jobs? Who did you work for and what did you do?
I was an Army nurse in London during the war. After the war, I worked as a visiting nurse for the city’s public health service, riding my bicycle and the subway all over New York City. I was so tired sometimes I fell asleep on the subway and rode to the end of the line before the train reversed and went back into the city.
What are your hidden talents?
Good singer and dancer. I danced at the weekly high school dances and even went to some of the big hotels in Manhattan where we showed the older people how to do the Lindy Hop and the Big Apple. And I was a good pupil in school, always number 1 or 2 in the class. I remember the nun in my 6th grade classroom used to put her head on the desk and cry. She would stop crying if I went to the head of the class and sang, “My Wild Irish Rose”.
What did you do to get through the difficult times in your life?
I was 13 when my father died and I was left alone with my mother. It was during the depression and life was hard for us. I cried a lot at night. I have always sung around the house, and always went to mass.
Do you have holiday traditions? What do you do for the holidays?
For Christmas I decorated the house and baked cookies with the children. We didn’t put up a tree until Christmas Eve, and then we’d sing carols around the piano. For Easter, I always dressed the girls in new patent leather shoes, white gloves and Bretons (white straw hats with ribbons). We colored 2 or 3 dozen eggs and hid them throughout the whole house.
What are some of your favorite things?
I like strawberries, steamed clams, lamb chops and chocolate pudding. Singing and dancing.
What are some personal experiences that have especially touched your heart?
The death of my father, and helping my mother after my father died. I shopped and helped with the cooking and cleaning. I remember repainting the apartment with my mother.
What are your favorite things to do now?
To sing and be active, go dancing with my husband, watch well-made movies.
What are you favorite experiences to partake in at Sunnybrook?
Attending the many live music events.
What do you hope for your children and grandchildren?
Peace and prosperity in our country, good health and happy marriages.
What is your biggest piece of advice?
Do what you like and what is good for you. Do something useful, and don’t worry about doing what everybody else does.
Sum your personality up in 1 word?
I’ve always been a hard worker. People say I’m funny.