Nana Phillips Interview 1977 , pt 2
[Pat]: She used to always try to follow my brothers and she was walking on the radiator and she hit the radiator and she busted the tooth, didn’t she, that night?
[Dave]: When she fell off? I guess Nancy did a couple of thing like that, huh?
[Pat]: No, that was Betty. Nancy was daredevil too.
[Nana]: Oh, gosh. When my kids got anything wrong with them, it had to be the worst. I always had them all laid out and everything, I’m telling you. Judy had the polio-
[Pat]: I’ll never forget the time I went to camp and my mother had to come up and get me or they had to send me home because I busted my tooth. I was sad because they had to send me home, they got more scared about my cracked tooth. And I hadn’t been- like I was saying, you don’t get out of the city that much and I didn’t want to go home, and they were having a fit, “Oh, we got to get this kid home so they can go to the dentist,” you know? And I was crying ‘cause they were sending me home. Everyone’s all concerned about me.
[Dave]: Everybody’s breaking legs and arms and everything, huh?
[Nana]: Oh, yeah.
[Pat]: I guess my mother’s seen her share of blood. Between my brothers coming in –
[Nana]: I remember when Peggy used to have the nosebleeds.
[Pat]: We were talking about that the other day. Somebody had tonsillitis, or- we heard that Rainey had her tonsils out. Mary took ‘em out one day and she brought ‘em out to our house, and Rainey was talking real funny. And it’s the only thing that crossed my mind, I said, “Rainey, did you have your tonsils out?” She said, “yeah, I just got out of the hospital day before yesterday.” Cause she was in that- [high pitched voice] “Hiii”, you know how it’s real high and it’s cracky? Dave and I were talking about that just the other day. How kids were growing, you know, and he was talking about Rainey.”
[Pat]: So I said, “Boy, are you kidding me?” Cause I asked her, I said, “were you sick?” So she said “no, I just got sore throats.” And Dave and I were talking about it, I said “Boy, she was lucky.” I can remember when my sister Peggy was little and we had our tonsils out. She used to sit and fill a bucket- have a bloody nose and fill a bucket of blood.
[Nana]: Oh, God yes. Used to have to bring her down the hospital and have it cauterized, to stop it.
[Dave]: That’s painful, isn’t it?
[Nana]: Oh yeah, they used to have to plug it up with cotton and everything. Ruined more towels, more bathrobes…
[Pat]: I used to get a bloody nose, but nothing like that-
[Dave]: I only get a bloody nose when I get punched in the nose.
[Pat]: So when one had to go in, she just I guess, shipped the two of ‘em in and got them over and done at once. But I’ll never forget- I can’t remember to this day what Peggy had- but I’ll never forget when Peggy got sick. She wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t walk, she wouldn’t talk, she wouldn’t do anything at all.
[Nana]: That was what they called Chorea- but you spelled it with a “c-h.” And you lost all coordination in that, you know. And she was in the hospital almost one whole summer. That was the day they came home from school. You were going into fifth grade I think. And all in that fourth year, fifth year- whatever it was, Sister kept saying, “if you don’t do better, your sister will go ahead of you and leave you behind.” Well, when she knew that she had been promoted, when she got home, she just collapsed. That was it. She had made the grade and she had to learn to walk, she had to learn to talk, and do everything all over again. I’ll never forget when they brought her home from the hospital-
[Pat]: You’ll never forget, I’ll never forget.
[Nana]: I said, “You’ll have to be very careful; she can’t talk, so watch her eyes.”
[Pat]: They didn’t want to release her. She talked around us, but she said, “You’re not doing a thing, this kid’s gonna get better. I’m taking her home.” Because they didn’t want her to go home- she couldn’t function at all! She had to carry her in the bed. She couldn’t even write her name!
[Nana]: They’d carry her upstairs on the chair. So I said to them, “you can go up and talk to her.” This was on the afternoon- remember [Katie McKinnon]? And they came up and the pair of them came out of the room and they felt so bad. And that Monday morning, she was sleeping, I remember Nana had come down, stayed overnight. And she was going away the next day on vacation. I think that was the year she took Betty and Barbara up to Halifax or up to Montreal. So anyway, we were having breakfast Monday morning, and my mother said to me, (it was about nine o’clock,) “you better go up and see if she’s all right.” So, they were all out in the kitchen and I started hollering up- why, not screaming, but I called my mother and I said, “come here.” So she comes in the room, and I said, “say hi to Peggy.” So she says, “Hi Peggy,” Peggy didn’t move. Well, when I walked in, she was sleeping, and then I started to do something, I had changed my room around, and I had started to make my bed or something, and all of a sudden I heard, “ooh.” I thought I was dreaming, and I looked, and she was talking! And so I called my mother and my mother come up and she began talking to her, and that’s how she started talking again.
[Dave]: Just started up again and that was it.
[Pat]: And you know those plastic sheets? You buy them in the game store, in the Five and Dime. You lift the sheet, you write something and you lift the sheet.
[Nana]: Oh yeah, magic marker.
[Pat]: Yeah, that’s how she learned how to write. We used to all say, “come on! You can do it, you can do it!” And we’d do it, and it was terrible, she’d go … and you’d say, “no, this is what you do.” And you’d do it all over and lift the paper and that’s what she did, everybody just kept-
[Dave]: Didn’t you say you got sick one time she got sick?
[Pat]: No, I got all the symptoms. I didn’t get the sickness.
[Dave]: Did you get sick in school, or what?
[Pat]: When she come home-
[Nana]: No, that was her appendix.
[Pat]: Oh, you mean when she had the sickness, or whatever it was?
[Dave]: When she got sick, did you have the symptoms before you knew she was sick?
[Nana]: No, that was when she had rheumatic fever.
[Pat]: Oh, I don’t know. Yeah, they called it Saint Vitus dance or whatever.
[Nana]: No, that was what that Chorea was.
[Pat]: Oh, okay. So anyways, I remember being in school and feeling lousy, whether she was missing then or not. No, it must have been after she came home, I remember going to school and I felt lousy. And every day, I used to have to come home, and the doctor would be there. And I used to have to get up in the bed, and he’d check me all over, and I had what they call sympathy pains. If she had a cramp in her stomach, I had a cramp in my stomach. If she had headaches that day, I had headaches that day. And the doctor told my mother, “there’s nothing wrong with this kid, she’s just what they call sympathy pains.”
[Nana]: Well that’s it, they were so close.
[Dave]: Yup. Anything else?
[Pat]: The only other thing is when I had appendicitis. Peggy didn’t feel too [swift]. But then, neither did I.
[Nana]: Well as I say, when my kids got something, they really got it. Like one time I had taken the kids- one of the nuns’ mother had died- it was Betty’s sister, and I took a bunch of the girls up to the wake. And we came home, and we were all sitting at the table having supper, that was one thing at my house, you had to be at that meal table. We all ate together. Of course, that was when families were families. And so anyway, she said, “Mama, I don’t feel good. May I go up in my room?” So, I figured, well this was an experience, and yes, all right. So then, all of a sudden, I said, “shh, everybody keep quiet.” And I could hear the bed going up and down, and I could hear, “It’s no ordinary pain, it’s no ordinary pain.” And I went up the room, and here she is, jumping up and down on the bed, screaming with pain! And, Jackie was working down the City Hospital at the time as an orderly, you know? After school, and on Saturdays. She was in the seventh grade then, so he was older. Anyway, I called him and I said, “what do you think?” And he said, “you’d better get her down the hospital.” Him and I walked the streets of Roxbury that night. Her appendix had ruptured, and we didn’t know whether she would live or die, but they wouldn’t let me stay in the hospital. So they said, “We’ll be in touch,” and we walked- oh God, and then, we’d walk back to the hospital, and then walk again. I’m telling you-“
[Pat]: Well, when mine ruptured, they ruptured around the liver and up around the bowels. Three days of [?] you know. And then this lady in the hospital- it was severe. And I was getting better, but I never liked the food. So my mother would bring me in stuff. She used to bring me good eggnog- homemade, fresh. She’d say to me, “put this in the refrigerator. When she doesn’t want something, give her this, at least she’s going to get the nourishment.” So I guess this woman saw that they brought me something besides what they were giving to somebody else- all she was, was a cleaning lady. But this one day, somebody had come to visit me and my slippers ended up way under the bed where I couldn’t- instead of being on the side and walking into them. So I said to her, “would you please get those?” So she said, “What do you think I am, your maid? What are you, a spoiled brat?” She said, “get under the bed and get them yourself.” So I waited and I waited, and I said, never mind. And I just waited for someone to come, ‘cause that’s the first thing they told me when I even woke up- you don’t move any more than- I couldn’t bend down and get those things, I probably never would have got up! “
[Pat]: That’s funny though, the different things that happen to you.
[Nana]: These kids used to love to go over to Rosemarie and Tony’s house when they were first married. And then, was it Tony’s christening, that Warren was giving you kids the peaches and the wine?
[Pat]: It was probably. First time I ever tasted rhubarb was when she lived in [? Neck?]. I never tasted rhubarb. They used to have fields and fields and fields of it. Like, her house would be here, and right across the street was fields of it. I don’t know, but they must have been giving the stuff to Rosemary because she used to make different stuff [?].
[Nana]: I used to love that.
[Dave]: It’s funny, when you look back, you say, “I wish I had always taken more pictures.” Ma’s always saying she wish she took more pictures of this or that that happened.
[Pat]: We got a movie thing we gotta get-
[Dave]: You gotta use that more.
[Nana]: I got about four rolls of film in there I have to take out.
[Dave]: What, ones that haven’t been developed yet?
[Dave]: Do you got, old albums and things too, though? Of yours?
[Nana]: Oh yeah, I got loads of pictures. Oh God help us, yes. It’s too late now to get them out.
[Pat]: You used to have boxes and boxes of them. You gave a lot away though, didn’t you? No, I divided them up among the kids, yeah.
[Dave]: I think that’s the thing, though, everybody can look back at pictures and stuff.
[Nana]: Oh, yeah.
[Dave]: That’s the best part of it.
[Nana]: So have you been looking into these post-graduate stuff?
Yeah, I wrote away. We just finished that tax thing today.