Note: The following was written for Grandview Lodge’s newsletter resident feature by Patricia Mae Alfieri’s daughter.
By Virginia Alfieri Greene
To The Haldimand Press
DUNNVILLE—Born in Buffalo, New York on December 21, 1927, Patricia Mae was the third daughter of Frank and Ida Martin. Like little stair steps, they were Gloria, Connie, and Patricia, young sisters, inseparable, who spent many Saturday afternoons at the ‘pictures’, reveling in the latest Shirley Temple movie. Although my mother remembers many joys of that time, sadly, tragedy fell upon these young girls and their father. In giving birth to her fourth daughter, the young 28-year-old mother died. This little girl, named Dorothy, was adopted by family from Hamilton, Ontario. Frank, described by my mother as a wonderful and loving father, coped as well as he could with three little girls and holding his job at the US Post Office. However, after eight years, he succumbed to pneumonia and died, leaving Gloria, Connie, and Patricia as orphans.
Thankfully, relatives from Wellandport, Ontario came to their rescue and soon the three sisters were settled there. In time, they were introduced to their little sister Dorothy, then 8. My mother attended elementary and secondary school in Wellandport and Smithville respectively and then moved to Hamilton, following sister Connie, where they resided at the YWCA and obtained work. My mother was first a switchboard operator in Hanan and then did practical nursing training and work at St. Peter’s in Hamilton. When Gloria married and resided in St. Ann’s and Connie moved to Cornwall to attend Bible College, my mother found herself alone at loose ends in the big city; soon she returned home to her aunt and uncle’s farm in Wellandport.
“Dear Aunt Grace”, as my mother always referred to her, was her mother’s older sister and she was always so very good to the girls, loving them as her own, as she had no children of her own. One afternoon, Aunt Grace took my mother to Dunnville, to see if the War Memorial Hospital might wish to hire a practical nurse. At age 18, she was hired on the spot and so began her nursing career. Aunt Grace arranged for her to live at the nurses’ residence (in those days next to the hospital).