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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Opinions > Long Ago


Mar 24, 2020

As I sit here in my cozy apartment practicing ‘Distancing,' I am drawn back to the 1930s and the terrible onslaught of Rubella, better known as ‘German' measles.
I cannot recall if any of our playmates caught the disease but I remember vividly the adults in our neighborhood who fell victim. They were Betty Metzger and Papa.
After Route 97 was built Gregory Street was cut in half. The Gardners, our family and the Crosses lived on the lower portion of the street with a boarding house and the Fair family on the upper part.
Across the street was the Katzmeyer apartment house, the Keims and the Ares.
The upper part was occupied by the Metz­gers and the Bershaders.
Both Betty Metzger and Papa were very ill. Papa was very ill with a high fever and delirium. One day he decided he needed to stop smoking so he ripped up all the cigarettes in the house and flushed them down the toilet.
Fast forward to Sunday morning when his fever broke at 4 a.m. and he wanted a cigarette. Mama was able to control him until 6 a.m. when she called ‘Rube' Bennett and asked him to go downtown and bring Papa some cigarettes.
As usual ‘Rube' solved the problem. He was truly a good citizen and a responsible businessman.
As Papa recovered the news was grim from the Metzger house. Betty's fever escalated until ber brain was affected. I couldn't handle the news that she had died and cried all day.
At the reunion of DVCS alumni at the Villa Roma, Bob Hunt asked me to talk to Betty Jane, Betty's daughter, who had no memories of her mother. Here is what I told her.
Betty was married to William ‘Bill' Metzger, who woked at the Post Office. They lived in a Craftsman home with their two children, Richard and Betty Jane.
Betty was a beautiful woman with dark hair and striking features. She wore her hair loose, unlike the women of the time, whose hair was deeply waved.
Thought we were older than her children she allowed us to play with them. The watchword was ‘Be careful'. Of course when she brought out freshly baked cookies we were included.
She and Bill were good friends with the Edwin Weiss. Richard and Gary Weiss continued their friendship after school.
I shared with Betty Jane how stricken I was when her mother died. Bill remarried and Margaret did a fine job raising the children.
Betty Jane thanked me for my information and I felt Betty would have been happy I had shared my memories with her beautiful daughter.
Fare thee well, dear friend!

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