Mary's Last Date With Gus Mostick


By age 20, Mike had his own horse and wagon and was dating Sophie P. from Mahanoy City. Mike was sympathetic to his sister Mary's plight. She was sixteen, responsible, and she worked hard at all tasks. She was also very attractive and had reached an age when meeting and mixing with the opposite sex was not only natural but desirable.

"Yes Gus Mostick was an orthodox Greek; but he was also respected, industrious, had a better than average job, and would be a good provider. This argument had fallen on deaf ears leaving Mary very frustrated.

One Saturday afternoon Mary left with Mike to attend a Greek wedding in Brooklyn where she would meet Gus. This was not known by our parents who thought she was going to visit a girlfriend. After dropping her off, Mike went on to Mahanoy City to see Sophie.

It was Ma and Pa's habit to wait up whenever my older brothers or Mary were away from the house. By 9 pm I was already in bed along with Margaret, Dorothy, and grandmother.

Mike returned from Mahanoy City at 11 PM presuming that Mary had returned earlier. Ma and Pa expected to find Mary with Mike.

We were all awakened by Ma. She was very upset. "What do you mean you don't know where Mary is? Aren't you concerned? It's 11p.m. and your sister is not home yet?".

''Of course I'm concerned about her". Mike knew a storm had erupted and would only get worse - the truth was his best course. ''We didn't want to tell you because you get so upset. Mary was invited to a wedding in Brooklyn. Manual Stanopolous' daughter Maria was married this afternoon. Gus Mostick was at their house with others. He works with a beer distributorship and he was asked to set up the refreshments and tables for the reception. Gus asked Mary if she would like to help and then stay for the celebration".

''Good Lord!" Ma sobbed. ''You know how we feel about that. We don't want Mary dating or marrying Gus or any other Greek! and now look it's late. Where is she?”

Pa joined in "You disobeyed us son. We can can't have that. You need to go back to Brooklyn. Find her and bring her home, you should be protecting your sister".

''From what Pa? I know Gus. He's a friend. He's reliable and he goes to church regularly”.

That wasn't what Ma wanted to hear. ''But he's not Catholic-- he goes to the Greek Orthodox Church. No good Polish girl can marry an orthodox Greek.

Mary arrived in the middle of the fracas. Mike tried to intercede, "It's O.K. Ma, Gus is a gentleman”.

We could hear Pa tell Mike, ''Leave us alone son we need to discuss this with Mary''. Ma was still on a tear , "Where were you? No good girl leaves her home with her brother and comes in at this hour without an escort”. etc.,-.etc. “Where is your pride?"

Pa interrupted ''What does pride have to do with it?" Mary was having difficulties. Ma didn't want to hear excuses -but Mary went on ''The wedding was delayed two hours and that delayed the reception. Gus was going to bring me home earlier but couldn't leave until 11. I don't know why you and Pa worry so much. I'm a good girl and I know it even if you don't want to believe me. I would never do anything to disgrace myself. I too have pride Ma!!'' Ma was not to be dissuaded. She would have none of it. ''Get the Strap Jacob".

At the mention of the word STRAP our young ears were at full attention. The strap which hung in the kitchen near the stove was most respected. It was used only for the most heinous deeds, and made a lasting impression not only on the recipient but also the younger members of the family.

Pa hesitated.

Ma insisted. "She's disgraced us. What will the neighbors think?"

Mike tried again to reason with Pa who was always more flexible; but was told, "Your Ma and I have to work this out let us be".

''She's sixteen Pa she needs to meet people her own age”.

''Please son, don't interfere”, Pa pleaded.

Mike went into the kitchen, and came up the back stairs. He didn't want to embarrass Mary any further.

As was customary, Ma lifted Mary's skirt to her knees and Pa used the strap -once, maybe twice.

We heard Mary cry out and then Pa, ''Antoinette, I can't do this!! I believe Mary. I'm proud or all my children !".

Mary came up the stairs a few minutes later; and then still sobbing, she began to ascend the pull- down stairs to the attic.

Mary was humiliated and devastated --experiencing an emotional pain that was far greater than that from the strapping. A pain that would last forever.

Mike was the first to break the silence, “I'M sorry Mary. If I had known I could have come by Brooklyn earlier and taken you home".

"It's O.K. Mike, It's O.K.”, She sobbed quietly "lt's Ma -she just doesn't understand”.

Grandmother had been quietly saying her rosary and had the last word. "Sleep child, God will tell you what to do." Her words were muffled. I'm not sure Mary heard her.

No one slept that night-almost no one.

Ma said her prayers, and I'm sure she slept--feeling she had done her duty--but still fearful of Mary's rebellious spirit.

My father slept least of all. "She's grown up Antoinette; she's a woman. We're going to lose her".

My father regretted the incident and later apologized. Marry however felt insulted. She could forgive my father because he was flexible and tried to understand her feelings--but not Ma. Her opinions were deeply ingrained. Seared by her self - esteem she hid behind a cosmetic veneer of pride and cleanliness.

The next day Ma was unusually quiet. Maybe this was her way of apologizing-- which in any case would have been difficult. Except for the noise of the younger children, the entire household seemed to be on guard. It was better to say nothing than to be misunderstood.

Approximately eight days from that date, Mary packed her belongings and without saying a word to anyone, except Mike, she disappeared. Mike held her secret in confidence.

For three days my parents were frantic. They didn't know where she was and they were too embarrassed to discuss it with neighbors or relatives.

On Thursday of that week I went with Ma to Mr. Pankowski's wagon to buy flour. One of our neighbors engaged Ma in conversation, ''Antoinette I didn't realize your Mary was working for Dr. Rudder. What an enviable position. He and his wife are such wonderful people. You must be very happy for her".

Ma's face, still sullen, over Mary's unofficial departure, broke out in a big smile, ''Oh we're very happy, happy indeed''.

She couldn't wait to tell Pa that even evening--but found out that he had already known. Mike had advised him of Mary's new position. Now that Ma had accepted the idea we were all happy.

The Rudders were wealthy and well respected. Mary worked hard and they were generous. Ma and Pa were happy that she would now be able to buy her own clothes and shoes. Jobs in the patches for young women were scarce, and our family felt honored by Mary's position.

Her first purchase was a pair of GIRLS slippers the first she had ever owned: