g l parker

Book One

Sadie's cast of characters...

The stars of the story!

"Mary (Minnie)& Daniel" Sadie' s parents...

As if the technological wonders of the buildings of steel alone were not enough to celebrate, on May 24, 1884, with the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan and Brooklyn joined forces honoring the bridge's opening day. The two boroughs put on a spectacular show of fireworks in celebration of their accomplishing this seemingly impossible feat.

The city had commissioned John Augustus Roebling, who held the patent for the spun wire rope on which the sixteen hundred foot long bridge was suspended, to build this in mid-air wonder. The two masonry towers were built by the hands of the city?s most creative Italian masons, who started out seventy-eight and a half feet below the water?s surface and worked their way up to the top of the two hundred and seventy-six and a half foot masonry towers -- an unprecedented and remarkable task.

At the open ceremonies, on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, John Roebling, who was very ill by the end of the project, could only sit and watch from his window as his wife and son, who had taken his place in overseeing the bridge?s construction, boarded the carriage to take them to the Manhattan side to partake in the opening ceremony taking place there.

On the Manhattan side of the bridge, the streets were alive with the music and merriment of the people who had contributed, each in their own way, to the bridge?s realization. The music and song of the people of Manhattan filled the crisp spring air, and their voices melded together and rang out across the bridge in glorious tones of ethnic harmony. There was much to celebrate for the citizens of the two cities, and there were so many events taking place here, there, and everywhere, the people barely had time to breathe. The Parkers and the Bergens had reasons of their own to celebrate, but their celebration, however, was a less welcomed event than most going on around the town.

On September 4, 1884, in the rectory of the Church of the Holy Apostle, on Ninth 9th Avenue, in the Chelsea district, Minnie Parker and Daniel Bergen, according the rites of the Protestant Episcopal Church, were joined in holy matrimony. My great great grandparent?s paths, finally, crossed and two of their children were about to embark on lives of their own--more or less.

Minnie was nineteen on her wedding day and she made a beautiful bride. She was a petite girl, with a fine gentle Irish face, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She had become a skilled seamstress, and she had a taste for good clothes, an insatiable passion for hats, and on her wedding day Minnie was six months pregnant.

Why it took Minnie and Danny so long to marry is anyone's guess, and I can only surmise that their joining was not one made in Heaven. In her day, the fact alone that she was pregnant before being a wife, would have brought great shame upon her and her family, but it would especially bring great shame to the child.  

The Parkers, God loving people that they were, seemed to have made the best of the day, and what was for them a really bad situation, and congregated in the aisles to hear Minnie and Danny take their vows.

Danny was twenty-four years old and a fine looking young man. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, a mustache, and a keen sense of style, which would not be impudent for me to say he probably acquired from Minnie.

Danny moved up in the ranks in his position as a clerk and he was working as an accountant, but he, like his father, was a bit of a scoundrel and had something going on the side for himself, too. Though he was a charming young man with a winning smile, and a winning way, he was also a man not to be taken lightly.

Minnie herself was a force to be reckoned with, and to keep the peace, Danny, at Minnie's request, took an apartment closer to the Parker household than to Bergen?s, and they were ready to move on with their lives as man and wife. 

Sarah, "SADIE", what a babe...

Just two months prior to Sadie's birth, Joseph Pulitzer, the New York newspaper publisher, started a campaign to raise funds for a massive platform that was to be built just off of Ellis Island.

Long gone was the transition station The Gate to the New  World, it was now Ellis Island that welcomed the newest immigrants to Mahattan's shores, and it was cold in comparison to its predecessor.

This platform, for which Mr. Pulitzer was campaigning funds, was going to serve as a pedestal on which the city's newest colossus would take its place in Manhattan's forever changing skyline.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift being sent from France in honor of America's centennial, and for the friendship the two countries had formed over a hundred years earlier during the Revolutionary War.

As agreed upon with France, the lady was to have a pedestal on which to step when disembarking the French frigate Isere. But she would have to wait until the final touches were put on her pedestal before she could be shipped to New York and be properly presented before the eyes of the wold.

Luigi, with guitar, outside barber shop. Louis, Marie, Anna, and Regina...

 Luigi had family in Connecticut who told him there was a barber shop in Danbury available for rent. He had been working hard and saving his money to put toward his dream of having his own business, and he traveled the great distance from Manhattan to visit his family and see the place. It was love at first site. There, outside the shop, in glorious swirls of blue and white, was as splendid a barber pole as he had ever seen. Now all there was left to do was convince Sadie to leave her family and Manhattan.

Upper left hand corner: Regina Letitia was born in 1915,on New Years Day. She was a small baby, the smallest baby Sadie had thus far.

Lower right hand corner: Louis Hanley deeply loved and admired Luigi, and in turn Luigi loved him and found great satisfaction in teaching him all kinds of new things. He taught him to chop wood and bundle it for kindling for the fireplace, stove, and and furnace they tended together as the men of the family.

Center bottom: Marie was a slender baby with the biggest brown eyes, and wispy dark brown hair.

Lower left hand corner: Anna, unlike her siblings, Marie and Regina, had eyes as blue as Sadie's and Louis', and hair so blonde it appeared white.

"Louis" Fort Totten, New York...

Witnessing Anna's fiasco as it was unfolding,  from up the block Louis let out a, "Ye ha!" and he and his trusty steed galloped off down Twelvth Avenue to rescue Anna from her obvious dilemma. When he reached the scene, he jumped off his horse, ran to the truck, grabbed Billy by his hind quarters,  yanked him off of Anna, and out of the truck. Billy was not put upon much, if at all ,by any of this, and he sauntered back down the street and went on his merry way. Anna, on the other hand, threw her arms around Louis’ neck and stayed there a while as he comforted her in his strong arms. "You okay, kid? " Louis asked, releasing himself from Anna’s choking hug. Anna kissed him, and through her sobs said, "You’re my hero."

Louis took his horse by its reins, and he put his arm around Anna’s shoulder and walked her the rest of the way home. Anna could not wait to tell the family of her harrowing experience. Sadie and the kids were a captured audience and listened as Louis and Anna each told their version of their tale. Louis found Anna’s situation to be a bit of concern, but he did not by any means believe it was as life threatening as she had posed. It was humorous to him, and seeing she was not hurt, he thought Anna was more upset over the loss of her Indian Nuts and her pocket than the beast standing on her. He could not wait to get back to work to tell the guys what had happened to his kid sister.

Louis was not one to shy away from the spotlight, and he took every opportunity to put himself there. He would, throughout his life, be the center of attention around which a gaggle of ragged little streets urchins would gather just to be in his company. Sitting on the stoop, Louis, with Anna singing alongside him, would amuse the other children that shared his streets, and with his father’s gift of music he would play the ukulele, sing songs, and tell them silly stories and exaggerated tales he fabricated with his wild imagination. All the kids loved Louis, in whatever neighborhood he lived in, and they would follow him wherever he and his ukulele went. For them, he was a role model and the Pied Piper of their colorless streets.

As far as Anna was concerned, there was no one braver than Louis, and she  felt the Quinns had a genuine hero right under their own roof, and this gave the family certain bragging rights in her mind. She hit the streets and told the other kids on her block of her run in with Billy, and she played out her harrowing encounter with Billy to the hilt, but she did give Louis’ heroic actions center stage. All ready their idol, the kids on the block who, too, had been harassed by Billy, began to look up to Louis as their hero as well.

Anna made two promises to herself that day. One, she would never walk past Billy’s gate again. Two, she would marry a man just as handsome, loving, kind, gentle, and as brave as her big brother Louis.

"Madeline Quinn", SADIE's daughter...

On a fine summer day, Marie, Anna, and Regina were outside playing hopscotch. They sat Ralph on the first step of the stoop and he sat watching them. They had baby Madeline with them, and she lie asleep in her carriage on the sidewalk as they played.

Suddenly, a shout cried out and they heard a thundering noise. When they turned, they saw cattle stampeding down the Twevfth Avenue toward them. The girls instinctively ran to their stoop. Marie picked up Ralph and they all ran farther up the steps to get out of the way of the oncoming barrage of charging cattle, that were out of control and running all over the neighborhood in their frenzied state of madness.

After finding safety at the top of their stoop, Marie, Anna, and Regina were dumbfounded when they realized they left Madeline behind asleep in her carriage on the sidewalk. They panicked and did not know what to do, and, unable to move in their shock and their fear, they stood there and watched as the calamity of their doomed sleeping baby sister’s fate unfolded before their very eyes.

Just when they thought all was lost, a City Cowboy rode up on his horse, snatched the baby out of the carriage, and rode off down the street with Madeline safely in his arms. The Quinn kids, and the crowd of onlookers gave a rousting cheer that quickly turned into a gasp, when only an instant later they all watched as the wild-eyed herd crushed Madeline’s empty baby carriage to smithereens.

"The VanNattens"

 Minnie, upon her separation from Danny, took a job as a seamstress at Leffert’s dress shop and moved herself, Sadie and Lonnie, who were both in school, in with her sister Till, who was expecting her second child, and her husband William and their daughter Lucille.

Already living with Till and William, were her mother and her new husband, Isaac Tomkins, a watchman, who Mary married after Cunningham’s death.

With the death of James, and with John wanting to venture off on his own to make a name for himself as an artist, Mary, without her sons there to run the business, sold the house and shop. Her pockets were still comfortable, yet Till’s generous husband invited them into his home so the Parkers would have a place to live after the sale of their own home.

Annie and Lizzie Parker were still single and living at home when Mary and Isaac moved in with the Van Nattens, and both were working as shop girls. They were contributing to the bank account of this extended family living arrangement, though William insisted they keep their hard earned wages.

Sadie was ecstatic when Till gave birth to Letitia, who they called Tissie, and she was overjoyed by the new baby. She pitched in and gave her aunt Till a hand every chance she was given. It was love at first sight for Sadie when she first held Tissie in her arms. Though she loved her brother Lonnie, and her cousin Lucille, there was something so special about Tissie and she loved playing mother to her, which to Sadie came very naturally.

Top; William VanNatten.

Bottom photo; Starting top left, Lucille and Tiil.

Forefront; Willie and Tissie.

"Parker Children" unknown...

Just before Halloween, Minnie was at home resting when a knock came at the door. It was her brother James. Their mother, Mary, had sent him. Minnie could see when she opened the door that James was very upset.

"Minnie. You have to come home quick. It’s Sarah. She’s been run over."

"Good Lord, James. How bad is it?"

"God, Min. It’s real bad. She ran out into 10th without looking and was run over by a wagon. The man stopped, but only after having heard the other kids screaming out to him. He was carrying a heavy load and the wheels of the wagon ran over her, and her small body is crushed and badly broken. She’s dying, Min."

The whole family was assembled by the time the two of them reached the Parker home. Mary was sitting at Sarah’s bedside and Cunningham was standing over them reading from the family Bible.

Sarah’s suffering was unbearable for the family to watch, and they prayed to God for him to take her and put an end to her misery and pain.

Mercifully, her end came quick, and though her life was over her light would never be diminished in the eyes and in the hearts of her family who loved their shining light Sarah.

Eight-year-old Sarah Parker was just one of the many children run over on Tenth 10th Avenue, by one of the all too numerous horse drawn wagons making their way through the networks of streets; running to and from the waterfront and railroad yards, that were for Sarah and the other children of this neighborhood their playground.