Leap Day

A family legend that I believe is true: Our grandfather, Edward Daniel Hogan, was born on Leap Day. Our grandmother, Anne O’Malley, was born in 1898, and hearing that I always figured Ed must have been born in 1896 or 1892. But having seen his grave, finally, and having found him in the census, I see the real date was 1888.

In 1930, he was listed as a bank auditor, probably at the First National Bank of Chicago; our stern grandmother is listed unsoberly as “Annie,” and her occupation is clear from the presence of three children in the downstairs flat at 8332 South May Street: our mom, who was just four months old the day the census enumerator visited, and her brothers Bill — three years old — and John, who was two. Upstairs were Ed’s parents, Timothy J. (listed as “freight clerk-railroad”); Annie, his wife, who was actually named Anniestacia; and Ed’s sisters, Catherine and Betty. Catherine was 30 and her occupation is listed as “stenographer-abbatoir”; I’ve always heard she worked for Armour–you know, the meat company–but this is the first I’ve heard that stenographers worked in abbatoirs. Betty is listed as an office clerk at a bank, and I don’t know which one.

It’s always a little thrilling and a little strange to encounter family characters in a setting like this. Some of them we’ve only heard about. We never knew Mom’s dad and granddad or her brother John — they died long before we came along. But I do have memories of his mother, Annie, who still lived in that upstairs flat when we were very young. And much clearer memories of the rest of them.

Ed, though–today is the twenty-ninth passing of his actual birth date. I think. If he were in any position to appreciate it, I’d tell him happy birthday.

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