Photo: Julia and Edward Flanagan
By Christine McDonald
Sixty years ago Julia Flanagan was 18 years old and heartbroken. The love of her life was off to war after only two weeks of marriage. They barely had time to get to know each other as husband and wife. Now their only form of communication was through letters which were censored by the army.
She could never know where exactly her husband was in Europe, often parts of his letters had black marks through them. She worried often about his safety and wondered when they would be together again. Julia was introduced to Edward Flanagan by a cousin. He was training at Camp Drum for World War II. She fell head over heals in love and broke off the engagement with a former fiance after she decided that Edward was who she wanted to be with.
Julia passed the time by continuing to work at her job for the New York Telephone Company. She worked there for six years. Her starting weekly salary amounted to $16.00 a week when she was in training and gradually increased to $18.00 per week.
Shortly after her husband got back from WWII she became pregnant. The New York Telephone Company didn’t allow her to work when she showed obvious signs of pregnancy. Unfortunately, she had to discontinue working even though she wasn’t having any problems with her pregnancy. She accepted this regulation that New York Telephone Company set, as it was the norm at that time. As a rule, during her age cohort, women were expected to stay home and raise a family as well as do all the household chores.
Fortunately, her newly wed husband was very supportive of her working when he got laid off from work. She continued to work for New York Telephone off and on for two years until she had more children. As her family grew, it was hard for her to maintain friendships but Jude had many girlfriends that would come and visit her from her workplace. She couldn’t get together with them as often as she would have liked as she had family obligations and responsibilities.
Julia became a full time homemaker raising six children and maintaining the household.
After living in apartments and a double house, her husband built the family a house where they lived for 35 years. Julia’s mother died from Parkinson’s disease. Her father died two years later from a heart attack. She had a good relationship with her parents and misses them very much both of them died in there 70’s.
Julia was born on July 31, 1925 in a small farming community called Tylerville, New York. She was the next to youngest in a family with five siblings. One sibling died at birth. The family farm she was raised on fed her family. The farm consisted of cows, chickens, and horses. The horses were her only means of transportation in the winter. Her father took her every morning by horse and carriage to meet the school bus that took her to school because they didnÕt have a car.
Aside from not having a car, her family didnÕt have the luxury of running water or electricity. Lighting consisted of kerosene lamps, heat consisted of a wood-burning stove, and water was retrieved from the well. Julia did attend a one-room schoolhouse for a few years. Children from five or six different grades were mixed in together.
Her sister-in-law was her teacher. In addition to all the basic subjects teachers had to teach art and music. Julia attended Copenhagen High School and was captain of the softball and basketball team. During the winter, she and her siblings enjoyed going sledding.
A typical day for Julia consisted of getting out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to water the horses and get ready for school. She would come home at from school 3:00 and help her mother prepare supper. Her family ate dinner at 5:30 and she would go to bed when the sun went down. Occasionally, she and her mother would stay up later and listen to Tom Mix or Lux Theatre on a battery-operated radio. It was after high school graduation that Julia started working for the New York Telephone Company.
Things changed greatly for Julia after their six children left home. Her routine became simpler. When her husband retired they moved into a mobile home and are still in the same location. Everyday, her husband and her go for a ride in the afternoon for a few hours. Sometimes they go and visit family, other times they run errands or just drive around and they are always home by 3:00.
Julia;s favorite thing to do now is to check her messages on email. She keeps in touch with many family and friends through email. Julia and Edward have 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.
In November 2003, they had a 60th wedding anniversary party in their honor. After renewing their vows, they got to enjoy an evening with friends and family. One of their grandchildren presented them with a scrapbook consisting of pictures of their history together. This was a special moment for Julia and Ed. Recently Julia was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer. She is now recovering after a successful surgery. Julia is a strong willed woman who is fiercely independent.
She has survived cancer before and keeps her faith that everything will turn out for the best. She continues to live happily in northern New York with much of her family nearby.
Christine McDonald is a freelance writer from North Carolina.
© Christine McDonald All Rights Reserved
Published January 2005 by U.S. Legacies.