Journal of a 76 Year Old Gay Man At The End of His Life

Interview With Mom #3

Ronnie Tipton baby

Me on a blanket – I have regressed to this same hairline now

Before Margaret moved in, Mom had her kerosene stove removed because Pop didn’t pay the bill. Pop didn’t pay the rent so they were about to get evicted. They then moved to Towerville. Margaret and the kids moved down the street to a rental property on the Old King’s Highway, PA Route 340. This is where I used to spend a week or two in the summertime when I was older. Margaret’s house didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing either. I still remember the quietness of the night with the ticking grandfather clock.

We lived in Towerville a couple years. Pop got a job at Capital Bakery in Coatesville, PA. Pop had about six dogs in the back but no food for us kids. Mad had to call the SPCA to take care of the dogs so they wouldn’t starve Mom had to call her father (Grandpop) to give her some money to feed us kids. He gave her $5.00 so she could buy milk for us.

Pop was away on a truck trip. Pop was a cross country truck drive and was away for weeks at a time. He had failed his physical for the draft and instead contributed to the war effort cross country truck driving. During this time Mom found out he was “running around” with other women.

During this time, Grandmother (Mrs. Tipton, Pop’s mother who was a widow) was living with them. She took turns living with one of her different eleven sons she had with my paternal grandfather who died of a heart attack at age 54 in 1939.  Grandmother, who had diabetes, would sneak peanuts in to eat which she shouldn’t have because she was diabetic. She did this one too many times and slipped into a sugar coma. She came out of that coma and her doctor changed her insulin injections from three times day to once a day. Mom said she “didn’t last too long on this insulin and went into insulin shock.”  She died same night that it was announced on the radio that President Roosevelt had died. They were listening to the radio on the kitchen table.

 

Hester Tipton

My grandmother Hester Lewis Tipton (I don’t remember her)

My grandmother died a few months before the end of the war.  She died thinking that her son John had died in the war. After the war was over it was discovered that John was a prisoner of war held by the Germans.  He was a paratrooper captured in Belgium and imprisoned in a castle in Austria. He escaped twice and was recaptured twice. My youngest brother was named after John, who our family thought died in the war. When Uncle John came home he got married and his first born was a son who he named, you got it “John.”  This is why we have three “John Tipton’s” in our family. Unfortunately, Uncle John died young.  He was 39 years old when he accidentally set himself on fire where he worked at the Gindy Trailer Manufacturing Company in Downingtown, PA.  I was a pallbearer along with my two brothers at our Uncle John’s funeral. Both my brothers and I were in the Army at that time and we wore our uniforms to the service. This was the first funeral I ever attended. This was also the first time I ever saw a dead person (didn’t look like him, his hair was combed the wrong way). This was also the first time I was ever in a Catholic Church. Uncle John had converted to Catholicism when he married his wife, Aunt Peggy, who was Catholic.

 

Uncle John Tipton

Uncle John Tipton (right) – survived the war but not civilian life

Interview With My Mother #2

Isaac Tipton, Sr. Lukens Steel ID card

My father’s employee ID card at Lukenweld

1942 – Pop got a job at Lukenweld. The family (me, Mom ad Pop) moved to Towerville, Pennsylvania. This was a double house. Sally Kitchen lived in the house next to them. This is my earlies memory. I remember someone yelling “Sally! Sally!” Many years later, when I was an adult I asked my Mother who was “Sally.” This is when she told me about the Sally who lived in the house next to their rental house.  This had to be the same “Sally” because I’ve never known another “Sally” in my life.

Mom said she thinks she lived in Compass, Pennsylvania before Towerville. She wasn’t sure.

She said it was an old hotel building that was split up into apartments. The building has electricity but no indoor toilets.

Mom said that Eugene White and his “woman” – not his wife – his “housekeeper” lived in the other side of the house.

Compass is where I fell of the roof. Mom said I had climbed out the second floor window, to the roof covering the front porch of the house. She said I slid down the roof and hit the ground. Mom was in the kitchen on the first floor and she saw me going by and dropping to the ground. She heard me crying.

Ronnie Tipton baby in crib

Me in my playpen, no more falling off roofs

Mom didn’t have a phone in the house. She ran across the road to the neighbors (they had a cow and she used to buy milk from them). Those neighbors called the doctor to check me out. He said that I would have to go to the hospital. Mom said “your insides stopped working a bit but then they started them up again.”

I didn’t have to stay overnight in the hospital. The people in the hospital said I was alright and they sent me home. (Note: here I used another one of the nine lives allotted to me on this go around).

Mom said my brother Isaac wasn’t born when I fell off the roof. Isaac was born in April of 1943 so I was about a year and a half old when I fell off the roof.

Mom’s step-mother Margaret (Hadfield) and her kids (Mary, Bobby and Ruthie) moved in while we lived in Compass because Grandpop (my Mother’s father) threw her out after he caught her with another man. The house in Compass had plenty of rooms since it was a former hotel.

To be continued. . . . . .

Betty Tipton pregnant

My mom pregnant with me – 1941

On September 15th, 2007 I sat down with my Mother at her home at 1075 Hopewell Road, Downingtown, Pennsylvania and interviewed her about my early life of which I had little or no memory. My Mother died three years after this interview. I wish I had interviewed her more often before she died but she was losing her mental capacity.

This interview begins with the date Mom got married to my father:

November 2, 1940

I got married Saturday night in Elkton, Maryland.

I went back to school the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

When Pop (my father) came back to pick me up for a night out (we usually went out Wednesday and Saturday nights), this time I had two dresses packed and was ready to leave home.

The last beating I got from grandpop (her father) was because I took too long to come back from the Morris (grocery) store. It was raining and I stood under cover until the rain let up. When I got home grandpop had the belt waiting. He asked me “Why did it take you so long?” He broke his belt beating me. I told Pop “I want to get away from this mess.” That night I moved in with Pop at the little house he rented on the road next to the Brandywine Creek right off of Route 322 from Downingtown.

Early 1941

We moved to a double house in Mortonville. Ed and Mable (my father’s brother and his wife) lived in the other half of the house. Mrs. Tipton, Pop’s mother, lived across the street.

We only lived in this house a few months. There was no running water in the house, no electric, no locks on the doors and an outhouse for a bathroom.

Pop got a job as an attendant at the Coatesville Veterans Hospital.

Later we moved to Cedar Knoll, in a rented house on a long dirt road on a hill. This is the house we lived in when you were born.

There was no electric or running water in this house either. We heated the house by a kerosene heater. It didn’t heat too much. There was a train track down over the hill.

Pop worked at the Veterans Hospital for about two years.

Mom said she remembers me being in the back seat of Pop’s car in a baby basket. Pop was driving down the hill and took a turn too fast and you went rolling out of the baby basket.

Cedar Knoll

Mom pregnant with me in front of their Cedar Knoll home – 1941

To be continued

My Birth

betty Tipton with Baby Ron Tipton

I had a difficult birth. My Mother told me I had a “forceps” birth. I didn’t want to come out. I was stuck.  My grand entrance into the world and already I was causing a problem. Her doctor had to pull me out with forceps. When I finally came out my Mother said my head was covered in blood. The forceps just missed by less than an inch putting out my right eye. This near accident was the first of many fortunate near misses in my life. For many years I bore a vaccination type scar on my right eye with the pride of individualism. That scar is almost indivisible now on my aged face. And that was the last time I was anywhere near female private parts.

Autobiography

Ike, Betty and Ron Tipton Mineral Springs 1942Introduction

This is the first entry of my autobiography.

For many years I have wanted to write my autobiography but I didn’t know where to start. Do I write a massive tome? One of those biographies that are extensively cross referenced and footnoted? No, that’s not for me. First, I don’t have the time and secondly writing such a biography in that format reminds me too much of a term paper, which I hated to do in high school and during the college days.

I now have the solution.  A few years ago a friend recommended a book by the brother of a former classmate of mine. He wrote his “biography” as a series of vignettes. I loved that format. Viola! This is how I’m going to write my story.

The following is my first chapter. More details will follow.

I was born at a very young age. My place of birth was the Chester Country Hospital in West Chester, Pennsylvania. My date of birth was November 9, 1941.

I was the first born of Betty (Hadfield) and Isaac Tipton. My Mother was a fourth generation American of English heritage. Her great grandfather emigrated from England in 1852 via the port of New York City with his wife and two young children, William and Mary.

My father was an eight generation American. His ancestor Jonathan Tipton emigrated to American from Jamaica in 1692 via the port of Baltimore Country, Maryland. My father was a hillbilly from the Pisgah mountains of western North Carolina.

My father’s family moved from North Carolina to southern Pennsylvania in 1930, along with eight of his brothers to escape starvation caused by the Great Depression in those North Carolina “hollers”. The Tipton Family was cheap labor for his uncle Donald Byrd’s fruit and vegetable farm in southern Chester County.

My father met my Mother on a double date. My father was the driver of a car for his friend Hank.  My 16 year-old Mother had a date with Hank and my father’s date was with Edie Lemon, my Mom’s best girlfriend.  But when my father drove up in his jalopy, my Mother took one look at is tall, lanky 19 year old hillbilly boy and told her girlfriend Edie “You get in the back. I’m sitting up front with him.”  And that was the beginning of one of the greatest love stories that I have ever known.

A year later I was born.

Good day folks!

I’ve been absent from this blog. Mainly because this was a second personal blog and I’ve been concentrating on my other blog in Google (blogspot).  Also another reason is that I didn’t have a clear objective for this blog. But now I think I have found the purpose of this second blog.

First thing though, you’ll have to be patient with me because I’m not used to Word Press. The older I get I notice I have more trouble navigating a learning curve. I have pretty well mastered my Google blog but this one?  Still a lot to learn.

The purpose of this blog will be to record my memories from my 76 years of life on this planet. We all have a story. For many years I’ve wanted to write my autobiography but kept putting it off because I didn’t know where to start. Of course one starts at the beginning (when I was born) but that’s boring, isn’t it?  Instead I’m going to take a clue a book a brother of one of my former classmates did with his life. He self published a book of anecdotes about his life.  His book was called “Fuzzy Side Up.”  He took the title from his rug business.

His book of anecdotes about his life was funny, sad and most of all, interesting. As I read his book I thought to myself, “I can do this.”  And you know folks, you could too. We all have interesting lives. Unfortunately most of our personal anecdotes are lost once we pass on. I hope to avoid that fate by posting my anecdotes on this blog.

So stay with me folks, while I learn how to blog on Word Press.

Have a great day everyone!

Shopaholic Ron

 

 

3rdnlong

Betty WhiteWe’ve all heard the phrase “best thing since sliced bread”. Well it turns out that actress, author, producer and all around funny lady Betty White is older than sliced bread. Yup… let that sink in for a minute.

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