Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Jimmy Goodley!

I attended the Wright reunion which is held on the first weekend in August at the Breaks park in Virginia. Lana came with me. I was a bit apprehensive taking her since I was told there probably wouldn’t be a lot of children there. I was, also, concerned that she would be bored and be a distraction or problem for others who attended. I was looking forward to meeting my cousin, Lois, in person. She was coming with her niece, Sharon Au, and her brother-n-law, Jimmy Goodley from Delaware.

Jimmy and Lois at our table.
Lois, Sharon and Jimmy sat with Lana and me at a table for lunch. I knew that the main reason Sharon and Jimmy attended was to drive Lois and keep her company on the trip. What happened was they were into the reunion as much as Lois and I were and enjoyed themselves immensely.

Sharon with Lana when she received the prize for coming the longest distance.

When we had our Mullins reunion in September I had a table set up, and we talked about our family a lot especially when my cousins were trying to work out the puzzles I gave them each day. Lana was running around totally enjoying herself playing ball, swinging and interrupting the corn hole games. We were talking about someone in the Mullins line. Lana stopped and said “Nana, we are Wrights, too, aren’t we?” I assured her we were. She said she wanted to be sure and go back to the Wright reunion next year. One of the reasons she wants to go is to see Jimmy.

Jimmy Goodley was born on September 17, 1927 in Wilmington, Delaware to Joseph Goodley and Elsie Kulakowska. Elsie had come from Poland. Although they mainly spoke English in his home, he did hear Polish growing up and spoke and sang some of those words to Lana at the reunion.
Jimmy was one of five children. He lost his father at an early age. His mother raised them alone during the depression. It was so hard on his mother working a few hours any place when she heard of a job as she struggled to raise her children in the city. This may have been one reason he wanted to help those who were in need later in his life.

Jimmy would wait for his mother where she worked so he could have time alone with her talking on their way home. He remembered asking for a nickel once, and she told him, "Son, we just don't have it."
As a teenager his mother's cousin, Jim Horba, invited him to come and stay and work with him on his boat at West Palm Beach, Florida. He was to help his uncle prepare foods for the rich. That is where Jimmy’s taste for "the best" was learned. He brought home many recipes including a fruit salad recipe from J. C. Penny’s daughter that he made every Thanksgiving dinner after his marriage.

Jimmy is an athlete. He had been coming from Wilmington to Henderson, Maryland to play baseball. One of his teammates was James Wright. Jimmy was the short stop, and James was on third base. Both were excellent hitters. Jimmy was a fast runner while James' legs had started to slow down.

One day at Kenton, James’ sister, Vivian, went to watch James play in a game. While there when his team did well she would stand, clap her hands, and yell, "Good Play." When there was a chance Jimmy Goodley watched, and thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in her gorgeous lavender dress. She left before he could get close enough to speak to her.

Jimmy hung around James and another player while they drank from a bottle of booze. When they left, still drinking, Jimmy decided to follow them in case they ran into a ditch and needed help. He said it seemed they stopped at every farmhouse talking, and he thought they would never get home. Finally, they turned into a long lane leading up to this big white farmhouse. James invited him in to meet his family. That is when he met that beautiful girl with that lovely lavender dress.

I wondered what Vivian’s mother, born a Mullins, married to a Wright and brought up in southwest Virginia, thought of the half Polish suitor of her daughter. Lois told me:
  • “Mama found Jimmy very likable but she worried about the difference in their upbringing. She felt that Vivian could find herself raising their children by herself if Jimmy chose to ‘hang out on the corner with his buddies at night.' (After their marriage this did not happen.)
  • Mama, as did all Vivian's siblings, got many laughs as he got used to us and our way of life. She told this one often; Jimmy came into the fenced in pasture where she was going to take care of the baby calves to ask for Vivian's hand in marriage. Before she could tell him either way how she felt, he began running and jumping the fence all the time yelling, "MOM, RUN. THAT BULL IS GOING TO ATTACK US." It was only one of her heifers glad to see her and the food in her hands. Mama thought the world of Jimmy and knew Vivian could not have married a better person.”

Jimmy and Vivian dated for about six months. They married on Dec 26, 1949 in Marydel, Maryland

They had two daughters, Sharon Lee and Vivian. Little Vivian did not like her name. She had a tree outside her bedroom window that she called a beetle tree. She took that name for herself and has been “Beetle” ever since.

Jimmy showed great patience to make their marriage work because of the love and closeness Vivian had for her family. However, she did her share, also. When Jimmy began working at Kaumagraph as an apprentice printer his pay was very low. Vivian was able to stretch their small income far. No one could make ends meet so well.

Later, Jimmy thought she served him a hot dog but had none for herself. She had always been an excellent cook and became even better as she shopped for foods to keep them healthy and well. She made all the dresses, slips, skirts and blouses, and Halloween costumes for their two girls.

Vivian was in charge of taking care of their two daughters, house, paying bills, stretching money So often they would be asked for money to help members of the family get from payday to payday or money for a wedding, etc. Vivian never let any money be borrowed without asking Jimmy, and he always told her, "If we have it, let them borrow it." They both knew they would never receive one penny back, and, soon they would be asked again and again.

Sharon Lee, after completing high school and continuing educational courses while teaching piano lessons before and after school, became a secretary. She married Jim Au, and became the mother of two sons, Jimmy and Johnny. She became manager of the Elks Club booking and planning weddings and receptions, etc. for several years. She is now the grandmother of two beautiful children, Jimmy and Mia. She helped her sons continue their educations. She enjoys traveling with Jimmy Goodley wherever he wants to go. She, also, generously drives elderly aunts whatever their needs.

Beetle completed high school. She received the Leif Erickson Award under her birth name of Vivian Lee Goodley. It was listed on the front of the program beneath the Principal of Newark High School and Speaker for the Evening, President of the University of Delaware. Beetle married, became the mother of a son Rick. She divorced. She became a receptionist for a group of heart patient doctors and could take care of six phones at a time. She married again to Ken Condiff. They have a daughter, Sharon Lee. Wanting to stay home and raise her daughter she became a Child Care Provider of six children in their home which she continues today.

Jimmy and Vivian always invited her mother, Lizzie Wright Mullins, whose income was smaller than small, to go on vacations with them. Many interesting stories came from those trips and are spoken about with much laughter today. Lizzie always looked at post cards of the area and would say, "I'd like to have this five cent card but I hate to break my $20.00 bill for five cents." They laughed and wondered how many times that same $20.00 went on vacation with them.

Jimmy and Vivian saved their money and with a $500.00 gift they bought their first and only home. They planned to live there forever, which Vivian did. Family, friends, and neighbors were all welcomed and were served snacks, dinners, breakfasts -- whatever the hour. Their home was known as "a happy home.' Their nieces and nephews and quite wealthy friends’ children never wanted to leave. They saw many tantrum fits thrown when told "we have to leave now."

Jimmy is generous to a fault. Every Thursday after receiving his check he would stop at the local bakery buying and taking freshly baked Italian and rye bread to his mother and later to his mother-in-law and his own home.

Jimmy is a prankster. It did not matter the age of the person or the type of trick he would pull on everyone he knew. He would put things, stink-bombs under the hoods of cars, trucks, and tractors that would explode and send off a smoke-like substance. Often the person who had turned the key on would roll and/or dive from the vehicle causing everyone standing around to laugh.

Once, Jimmy called Vivian's mother, Lizzie Wright, telling her he was calling from the Artesian Water Company. He told her the water was going to be turned for an indefinite amount of time. He instructed her to fill up all of her pots and pans, and even the washtub. Everything she could use was to be filled. When he walked in saying, "Mom, why on earth are you wasting all this water?", she said, "Jimmy, I should have known you made that call", She immediatley started emptying water on her flowers and plants. She forgave him, and he left her the bread he always brought on payday.
Lois’ daughter, Tanya, told this memory of Jimmy:
  • "Every time Uncle Jimmy came to our home he would take a walk down that hall and you could say he decorated my room by picking my clothes off the floor and hang them on the curtain rods and on the tops of closet doors and door knobs and my bedstead. I had to take them down and do what should have been done before he came. Sean's room was always clean, but he would go into his room and stuff his shoes with paper, as he did with mine. We'd dress and had to pull paper out of our shoes before going to school or Sunday School. He knew how to get our goat."
Lana took this picture of Jimmy, me and Lois when we stopped at an overlook at the park.  I think she captured the prankster.
On August 23, 1979, Elsie Goodley Andrews, born August 24, 1900, died following a long illness. She was Jimmy Goodley's mother. The many cards, flowers, visitors and family coming to his home, and the funeral parlor showed how well loved Jimmy was with his families, peers, and close friends. Only a few months after her mother's death, Jimmy's eldest sister, Jeannette Goodey Cebenca died January 25, 1980 after a short illness.

Jimmy retired from printing after 35 years in the industry. Sharon’s husband, Jimmy Au, was a Project Civil Engineer and a manager on important construction work in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Jimmy worked with his son-in-law for six years on these jobs after he left the printing business.
Vivian died July 1, 2006 after nearly 57 years of marriage.

Jimmy visits all of his friends and others in nursing homes and hospitals as soon as he hears of an illness. He attends all funerals of those known by him. He knows every kind word will be needed and appreciated at that time.

Nothing but kind words have ever been said about him. Recently, Vivian's nephew, John Thornburg said,
"I went into a wholesale house and asked for credit. I knew the owner would say yes for my credit was excellent. At that time if you had not bought anything on credit you were told to buy something to establish credit, the reason I was there. The man talked with me a few minutes, asking where I had lived as a young child. I told told him a lot of places and the last one I mentioned was near Henderson, Md." He said, 'I used to go there just to watch two guys play baseball. They were brothers-in-law.' Johnny said, "You're talking about my two uncles, James Wright and Jimmy Goodley." He reached over and signed me up for credit then said, 'Now lets sit and talk about them." And they did. Jimmy Goodley and James Wright were the only players at Henderson who were ever paid; each receiving $20.00 per game.

When Lois lost her husband, John Tweedy, her son Sean said,
  • "Mom, Dad was a good person. The two people who are there for you now are the best people I have ever known: Uncle Jimmy and Uncle Orville. When they do something for you they don't expect anything back, and they are willing to give of themselves at all times to everyone, not just to you. They are two wonderful men and I admire them for what they are. I am glad they are my uncles."
What could anyone want more than to be so loved and respected by their family and friends? Happy Birthday, Jimmy!!

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