The Rafferty Family.

A brief autobiography by James Francis Rafferty (Raftery)

I was born on March 30, 1902 on a small farm in the townsland of Cregameen, Town Castlerea, Co. Roscommon. One half mile North East of the Boundary with Co. Galway six miles South East of Co. Mayo.

I sailed for the U.S.A. on March 30th 1921, on my 19th Birthday, on The White Star Liner, R.M.S. Cedric.

On arrival at New York We were taken to Ellis Island and after the fumigation process, when our clothing was returned, I looked like the Biblical son who was given, acoat of many colors. I found out, we were not through with boats yet. The agent, whom I presumed was making himself a few dollars, instead of putting us on a train for Boston, instead put us on the Old fall River Line boat. We had a night long sail and were disembarked at a place called Mansfield Mass. There we connected up with a Boston & Maine train for Manchester N.H.

We arrived Manchester in the early afternoon on the 8th or 9th of April & took a taxi to the apartment of our family.

After about a week in Manchester I and a few other recent arrivals were hired by the Manchester Street Railway to clean up the parks which it owned at Pine Island Park, Massaahesic Lake and Uncanonic Mountain. We were later put to work on the R.R. tracks until Fall and laid off. I got a job at Hoyt Shoe Shop, Beacon Shoe Co. and in late spring returned to the R.R. tracks. About August 1922, expecting a lay-off, together with a friend I went to Boston. My friend got a job at the Gillette Razor Factory and I one at the New England Iron-Works at C & Summer Streets. The cold of the plant together with the clammer of riveters made me quit.

I next got a job with a contractor, John L. Sullivan Co. I guess he had most of the city contracts, Jim Curley was mayor. I worked at the construction of a high school at Allston Mass. Also at Nantasket Beach and Revere Beach. Toward the end of the year, work was getting slack, as the brick-layers did not work in frosty weather. I went to visit a cousin at Malden Mass. Her husband and brother worked for the Malden & Melrose Gas Light Co. My cousin asked her brother, why don't you try to get Jim a job at the Gas House? He said no they are not hiring anybody. Her husband who came from Kerry said Jimmie, don't leave tonight, until you see me tomorrow. He came home at lunch time the following and said I had the job, not only that, but he had gone to the store & bought me a set of dungares & said you go to work tomorrow. All that from a man I had never seen before. I started as a stoker, loading up the bunkers with coke for the water gas machines. Later I took over the job my cousin Mike had held before he went back to Ireland.

Duties: Night patrol 11 to 7 two weeks, 3 to 11 two weeks , night patrol 4 hours 7 to 3 day duty two weeks. I controlled the gas pressure. recorded the reading of the gas tanks hourly, kept a record of the hourly production of gas, notified the engineer when holders reached their peak when to shut down. We had a seven day week and you got 8 hours off between two shifts, 16 hours between the next two and 32 between the other two. I liked the job but I found I was getting allergic to gas, sensitive stomach, and the "moonshine" in Malden was of a very poor grade. So I resigned.

In the Spring of 1925 I came to New York, got a job with the Third Ave. R.R. Trolly cars as a Conductor. I stayed there a year and left in disgust, no money in it. I was still on the extra list, would get assigned to certain Report show up & sometimes get an hour or less.

I applied at the Railway Express Agency & the agent said they were not hiring, but he referred me to the station baggage master at Grand Central Terminal. They put me on and I started there June 26th 1926. Assigned as Receiving Clerk, Delivery Clerk, COD Clerk, Check Clerk, Cashier, Office Clerk, Trace Clerk. Head check clerk, Timekeeper, and accountant. I retired in 1968 after 42 years on job.

In January 1969 I saw an ad. for couriers or messengers for the United States Bank Note Co. I went down to Hudson Street and got the job. The Chief Clerk said, I want you to know, I don't like the Irish, knowing what he was, I said, That's alright, I don't like the Jews either. He was the best and most considerate man I ever worked for. I quit in 1975 and he tried to talk me out of it. It was a great experience, outside of the city, speed was essential and was mostly by plane. We would fly to Washington to file papers with Security & Exchange Commission 2 or 3 times a week. Flew to Chicago, Dearborn, Mich. Montreal, Toronto and Quebec, Pittsburgh, Harrisburgh, Wilmington, Del. Buffalo and my longest trip West, Denver Colo. Wherever you went you took a taxi to and from the plane. Leaving home in the morning you never knew where you might be a six in the evening . They paid for phone calls home.

It was an exciting experience, for though as a rule we did not see much of the cities & did not hang around, it was nice to be able to say, I was there.

In 1969 our oldest son James & Daughter Martha Jane arranged a trip for us to England and Ireland. James, then a major in the U.S. Airforce was assigned to a base about 30 miles from London. We made a weeks tour of London then he took his big Oldsmobile to Fishguard in Wales the night boat to Wexford. Stayed over at Waterford, then down to Bantry Bay, for a stopover, next on to Killarney with stopover at Blarney. Next to Ennis Co. Clare stopover, through Limerick to Galway City stopover. Conemara Galway Bay, then headed for the old home in Co. Roscommon, the first time in 48 years. The old hoes were hone and there were very few of the people we know. Jim & Martha had to return to England. We stayed about two weeks, then flew back to London for another week, then the T.W.Q. home. It was a great treat and we had a nice time but why did we wait to get so old. We have made two other trips. 75 and 77.

So now for the Boss & Guardian of my life, Mary Staunton. Mrs. Rafferty, truly the girl from home. Born about a half mile apart. In fact her mother and mine went to school together. She lived in Brooklyn when I came to New York and we kept up a flippant correspondence. Being a pretty girl, she had plenty of boy-friends. I took advantage of her coming to work in New York & tried to avoid her being lonely for the absence of the Brooklyn suitors & pursued this course until she kindly assented. We were married June 30th, 1930 at the famous Church of St. Ignatus Loyola on Park Ave. I had met and known many in the Police & Law Departments, many of whom we had invited to the wedding in Brooklyn. Then an event occurred which I have never found out whether by arrangement or error it was caused.

From the Church, we went to a photo studio for the usual wedding pictures. When we came out on the ave. around 74th we were picked up by a motorcycle cop who motioned to the car to follow him. From that point with siren blaring and without a stop took us to the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge, swung around and waved his arm & turned back. This was in the middle of a business day in New York and I don't think Mayor Koch could make the trip today in the time we took. It felt like getting the key or freedom of the City.

We had a family of 7, 6 boys 1 girl.

1.) James Jr. U.S. Air Force 24 years, Lt. Col. Retired. He had a family of 7. 5 girls two boys. While he was assigned to West Germany his oldest daughter 18 was killed in an auto accident on the autobahn. Jim now teaching at St. Louis University.

2.) John P. Nine years New York National Guard. N.Y. city fireman retired, account of disability because of accident. Died of heart attack 1980. two sons one daughter

3.) Thomas J. Three years U.S. Army, assigned to a trip to D.E.W. Line at Thule About 40 ships in the convoy. Spent six months unloading in the dark up there. He did not like his C.P.O.s & when he came back asked for a transfer. He got it but within a week got orders to proceed to Seattle. When he got to Seattle he was assigned to another fleet accompanied by three ice breakers heading for Virginia Island, Canadian Northwest Territory. So in a couple of weeks he was back almost to Thule, but with a continent between. The first time he had gone up via the Atlantic past Iceland, the second time by Pacific & Bering Sea. Family of 4, two boys two girls. Civilian engineer with U.S. Coast Guard.

4.) George A. Three years U.S. Army. Trained at Fort Dix and Virginia, Assignment Honolulu, Hawaii. Enjoying the sun & beaches plus pretty girls, until discharged, 2 girls one boy. Foreman, freight Dept. Scandanavian Airlines. Also partner in a freight forwarding business.

5.) Richard M Nine years new York National Guard. Family of 2, boy & girl. Owns a laundromat & cleaning establishment, side line bar tender.

6.) Martin Eugene, eight years U.S. Air Force. Ground troop assignment. Archangel, Alaska & Thailand. One boy one girl. Construction engineer, cranes & all heavy equipment.

7.) Pop's sweetheart, Martha Jane, (Mrs. Marti) Secretary for Law Firm, New York Community College. New York Law School. Attorney in Connecticut. Married, no chilldren, husband Dean of Middlesex College Conn.

We have loved the attention of all our children and particularly their loyalty and fidelity to each other. If there were five of them at a party you would always find three or four of them together. For this I give the credit to their mother.

God bless her and all of them.

 

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