Kenneth Lynch and Kathleen Wright
Interview ID: MBX004373
DescriptionKathleen Wright, 41, interviews her father Kenneth Lynch, 67, about his childhood.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Kenneth Lynch
- Kathleen Wright
Recording LocationMobileBooth East
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00:03 Okay, I'm Kathy. Right and I am 41 years old and today's date is September 25th 2008 where in Roanoke Virginia and I am interviewing my father. So I am his daughter.
00:19 And my name is Kenneth Lynch. And I'm 67 years old and today is September 25th 2008. We are located in Roanoke, Virginia, and I'm very pleased to have my daughter interviewing me.
00:36 Well, thank you. Thank you. I know that I called yesterday to tell you all that we have this appointment to use and I think that you told me last night you had called your brother to talk about some of your family history and things like that. So I will start off by asking you if you could tell me all about about what it was like to grow up in Maryland and in Baltimore and you know, what, do you know what you remember from Matt?
01:11 I grew up. I lived most of my life in Baltimore Maryland. I was raised in govanstown a with in my grandparents house. My grandfather George William Lynch was a postman and his wife was a homemaker.
01:33 And my mother
01:37 Ruth Shaffer Lynch was the one of the children of Walter Schaefer and Ethel Godwin Schaefer. He was a plumber in Baltimore master plumber and she was a homemaker.
02:00 And a
02:04 My life as an early child was of Fairly stable and quiet one due to the fact that I live in my grandparents house. A lot of our activities were centered around family visits. I would have an uncle that operated a a chicken stall in Lexington Market in Baltimore City and did quite well and they would visit on Thursdays to deliver chickens and eggs.
02:34 And typically we sat down as a family and had dinner together.
02:40 We ate most meals together.
02:44 Most of my activity was centered around the same location. I don't think I ventured out of Maryland very much at all prior to seven or eight years old when we would the ride up to Pennsylvania and visit some of my grandmother's relatives that were in Chester Pennsylvania and my first actual trip with my family outside. The state was to come down to Virginia and go to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Monticello.
03:16 So you you said that you live when you were small child you lived in your grandparents house. And that was your pop blind, right? That's correct. Where did where did your mother's parents live? They lived in Baltimore to die before I was born at the Walter Schaefer who was the master plumber had died before I was born and they lived in on a street called Payson Street in Baltimore City and it had actually I am a big window in the front and which was a storefront for and had plumbing supplies in the windows.
04:03 And in the house was our end of group Roadhouse. It went deep and you walk back to a living room as or sitting room parlor type of area and then behind that was the kitchen in a number of rooms. They actually lived where his business was.
04:22 Operated from what if he died before you were born was Nanny living there by herself when you were growing up or was that was she.
04:32 When he died she moved in with my great-grandparents.
04:39 Call Aunt in another row house type place down in the center of Baltimore. My great-great-grandfather was a cigar maker.
04:52 And his name was Godwin.
04:55 And I believe that there were ties to Virginia at some point in time because he married a gal named Katherine and she had relatives that went back to Thomas stone who was the signer of the Declaration of Independence and also a member of the House of Burgesses in Virginia. So even though I haven't been able to establish a direct link bear, I do believe that there was some history god with the name Godwin also is a prevalent name in Virginia. So I do believe they're Virginia Virginia ties, even though it was kind of difficult to trace those down and Nanny Schaefer. I know is it was a sister of Aunt Kate Catherine Godwin and she lived a long long time and I knew her growing up so, you know, I know Aunt Kate and everything what?
05:55 I know Aunt Kate never married.
05:59 And I don't remember what she did that as a profession work for the city of Baltimore housing authority and she was responsible for collecting rents and a clearing out old housing that needed to be replaced by the city and taking care of Maintenance of those houses. And she was the sole support of my grandmother and my great-grandfather and great-grandmother.
06:33 That they when they all live together in this house in Baltimore, and actually my great-great-grandfather live till 99 years old and had been a water carrier in the Civil War and
06:49 His wife has her said Katherine had routes to Thomas stone. Who was The Virginian?
07:00 And she lived until 89 years old and then he Kate lived until 89 years old also.
07:08 I often thought that that was her goal in life to live as long as her mother did I think you did mention that to me before she you thought maybe she had a little bit of a mindset that she was going to live until 89. And in fact she did and then she died before she turned 90.
07:27 When did you when did you move out of your grandfather's house?
07:33 My grandmother died
07:39 And my grandfather and my mother and my brother and I and dad lived in my grandparents house until my grandfather retired from the post office.
07:54 And he unfortunately I had hardening of the arteries and went downhill and my mother was able to take care of him until the point at which he did not have control of his memory and would get lost and disoriented and he was put in a nursing home and remain there until he died.
08:20 And did you all then was that then just your immediate family was living in that house or did you all move to a new place?
08:28 We we stayed in that house my mother my brother and I and my dad and tell my mother got ill.
08:37 And she died of cancer and then my father sold the house and we moved into an apartment over in Roeland Park, which was a
08:49 Nice section of Baltimore City into an apartment and
08:54 That's where my dad met Ellen and developed a relationship with her and they eventually married her Ellen was a Turnbull and other term poles for a prominent name in Baltimore. A judge Turnbull was a representative in the legislature in Maryland, Downtown Annapolis.
09:20 I am dumb.
09:23 Then Ellen work for a Daniel Brewster who was ended up as a senator in the US Congress.
09:33 And so there was a. Of time that Ellen was going over and staying in Washington to do to the beach Saturday Bruster's secretary and would only come home on the weekends. So they went back and forth between Washington and Baltimore time that they were married to each other.
10:00 What what is your your happiest memory from your childhood?
10:08 The fact that we did a lot of things his family, I can remember the holidays over Christmas and Thanksgiving and
10:19 The family is getting together. I'll locally to celebrate and be together and we went to poly City game selling Thanksgiving Day and then went back to one of the houses for dinner, but everybody shared in that and the groups were somewhere between 20 and 30 people all the time that we would get together at one of the houses and celebrate the holiday sale.
10:49 Those were those were wonderful times getting together as family. Did you when you were growing up to do you have enough birthday parties and stuff like that or was that my mom felt that that was an important thing in until she got too ill to do some of those things. And yes, we did have birthday parties where the kids came in and we had cake and ice cream and lots of times we could go over to our great-grandparents house with my and my grandmother's and that was a fairly regular thing on the weekends. We would ride over there and visit them and in the city
11:30 Do you remember having a very favorite Christmas present or birthday present that you got when you were a kid? Probably my favorite Christmas present was my bicycle that I got. I had a 24 in bicycle and another time. I got a brownie hawkeye camera.
11:48 Anna another line another occasion, I roller skates. So I was I just about wore my bike out and my roller skates, we would go all over the community on those things. And I knew that those were probably the most special presents that I got for Christmas the camera must have really stuck with you because I know even you know into this whole time that I've been growing up you are the photographer and the documentary of the family and so we have many many pictures that you have taken and slides and everything fewer pictures that you are in which is kind of a hazard of that I guess but that's been a wonderful thing that you've done for us certainly be able to you know, keep all those memories so that we can look back at them and enjoy them.
12:43 When your mother died, I know you were only about 14 years old and I've always kind of assumed we never really had a conversation about it that we talked about it a little bit but I've always kind of assumed that was probably one of the most painful experiences of your childhood. Although I know that there were some other things I have to that but that may have been was that
13:08 It was hard. My mom was unfortunately sick for a good two years and in a lot of pain and so much so that you couldn't even brush up against your bed without her having some difficulty with it.
13:24 She had cancer and it was a slow painful existence there and difficult because essentially my grandmother is best. She could would come over and try to do Sly the household chores like cleaning up and doing the wash and things of that nature and that went on for a long time. So my brother and I were virtually y'all owner own during the day with mom being ill that way.
13:56 So you have that was tough. We had to learn to be a little more independent and do things more our own because we couldn't rely on Mom to do them.
14:08 Was that
14:12 I had a question and left me all of a sudden.
14:20 Alright, well tell me I've heard this story a little bit, but tell me about meeting Mom.
14:26 Oh, okay.
14:29 Her mom and I
14:32 Met at a mixer at the University of Maryland. It was my second year in college and that she was a freshman and my brother and I had gone to our first mixer dance at one of the dormitories.
14:47 I have the one that has she was in and she she said she almost didn't tell you she had to be coaxed to co down for one of her girlfriends. But as a matter of fact there was another young lady that my brother and I were both interested in that lived in that dorm. But she chose not to come down to the dance that night but I saw your mama cross they aren't they the floor and I made a comment to take and how cute she was with her red hair and ask her to dance. So I asked you to dance.
15:24 And it was a lovely thing and after that after the first dance we stood there for a while kind of gasping for words and not actually knowing what to say one another and another dance came up and we danced two or three dances together and I offered to take her home and I took her up to her dorm door and I made a move to give her a kiss and she just gave me the warmest, sweetest kiss that I could ever imagine. So I don't know what it was but the adrenaline shot through me and I felt like a king and I quit skipping across to my dorm across campus at night after I'd asked her if we could get together again soon and I get her got her number and her name and all the rest of the name kind of important.
16:23 Yeah, yeah, that was a lovely lovely experience wonderful CM she always claims now that you know, I've known her since I was born she always claims now that she when she was younger that she was shy and didn't didn't was that before she met you did you see any of that? She wasn't really demonstrative in super outgoing but she was easily conversed with and and comfortable to be with and I never perceived very shy although I thought her perceptions were more she felt herself more shy than she really was but and I think maybe earlier that what that was the case, but she seemed very comfortable and
17:23 Bishop seem comfortable in terms of communication
17:29 When you went to school at the University of Maryland, did you know going there that you wanted to be a shop teacher?
17:38 No, actually in high school there was a a a teacher there that mr. Auto who gathered together some fellows that he thought might be interested in that kind of a an experience and we visited University of Maryland when I still in high school and I hadn't thought much of it. It was a nice experience, but when I graduated from high school, I went to work for Westinghouse electronics that at Darlington come down here at the airport and they had a program with Johns Hopkins, which was a night program where you could get credits towards your degree while you were still working.
18:30 And my dad encouraged me sit to try to get involved in a four-year program at college and he really initiated a push and he said we will work it out. If you can work on the summers in Pace a little towards it and then I'll contribute what I can do. Then we can manage the cost of this because after mom's death there wasn't an awful lot of financial resources in our family to go around so we had to figure out a way to work it out. Of course Hope College participation and with a lot less expensive than it is now Daiso.
19:14 Reasonable amount of money you could you could pay for the whole experience and then I worked in bussing tables and things the first year that I was in college in that help to sew
19:31 That's how that all came about.
19:40 Can you give us is going to jump backward in time a little bit? Can you describe what what your mother was like before she got sick. What did she look like?
19:53 My mother was about 5 foot 4 and height. She had Brown wavy hair. She had her background was she had gone to Business School?
20:09 And she actually got some awards and business school for penmanship and things of that nature. She had beautiful handwriting.
20:19 And she did well there and actually there's some pictures of her participating in Zin some sort of a Follies kind of program in schools.
20:34 She liked I think the glamour of the dance and being on stage and things about a little bit but she and my dad their relationship was so kind of home oriented with my brother and I and they had friends and they would go out and they would play cards occasionally, but a lot of the activity was centered around home.
21:00 Did she have any phrases or words that she would use habits that you remember her for that? You remember us that you associate with her?
21:13 I really I can't recall any other than when I go back I have a recording of every once in awhile one time. I got creative and try to write a little play relevant to Christmas where everybody in the family participated and record it and she seems to have a Southern accent the Southern drawl which leads me to believe that some of her Roots were definitely in the South but although they never lived in any other place, but Marilyn fella, I guess that's the only distinguishing characteristic that I can recall.
21:56 In terms of her mannerisms, you mentioned that some of your favorite memories were everybody getting together for holiday meals and things like that. Was there anything like a traditional dish that she would cook her anything like that that are them something that was your favorite thing to eat at holidays or or a tradition?
22:23 It is a traditional meal in Ed like Thanksgiving was the Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes and peas and things of that nature. Sauerkraut was a big thing that may have been different because they included sauerkraut and
22:42 With the meal and then that's not always done with people who are there was a German influence their course, my mother's background being a Shaffer. There was some German blood in that many years back and my grandmother used to make sauerbraten and things of that nature reflecting the German influence on that side of the family, so,
23:11 And then now
23:13 My dad and the end of Rachel who was Uncle curbs who wife. My dad's brother was more creative in terms of the kind things that she would cook she do a unusual tomato aspect thing. That was very tasty and she did a layered cake that was made with cream cheeses and and olives and an
23:47 Hard boiled egg and things like that that you'd slice down and she do it in the refrigerator, which was also another unique very tasty kind of thing that was done. So those are the things that I can that you remember off the top of my head.
24:07 Let me see. Where are we?
24:11 I think of more questions.
24:17 What would you like me to know about you? How about that? I put it on you until I know that I like I'm a very very grateful person for the blessings that I've had them my life.
24:38 Is the fact that I met your mom really opened up the world to me because Mom is inherently a traveler and had seen many more places and really expanded my world of her Isis when we got married cuz she likes to go places and do things that I enjoy doing those but I don't typically initiate those things the other thing that I think I'm really grateful for the fact that I got into education, which was really good for me and I'll be a guidance counselor eventually was a thing that really opened my eyes to The Human Condition in a Broadway cuz I could really see and have to deal with on a day-to-day basis families that had other issues.
25:30 That were overriding they're being successful in school. So when kids would come and they would have personal problems or family problems. They bring those issues to school and that lots of times interferes with the learning process. So my role was to try to help them understand and be aware and work through possibilities for dealing with those issues problem solving and working through and being aware of what resources are available to them and so forth and I enjoyed doing that was a wonderful thing.
26:10 Um, I think you've said before that Mom was kind of instrumental also in having you get into the the guidance counseling field from me. I think you started out as a a shop teacher and then you
26:28 Change to become a guidance counselor and bless your heart were providing guidance to a bunch of Middle School aged kids, which seems pretty challenging to me.
26:45 It is but I always enjoy that challenge there wasn't a day that I go to work that I have a general plan of what to do, but then my day was very because it was always different and my role with different people was very very interesting. Not just the routine tasks that I was asked to do by Administration, but the interaction with the kids and the parents and the teachers and if I could get services for kids in need as part of a school team, I really enjoy that process because I felt that I was working together with other Professionals for the benefit of kids.
27:30 And fella, are there any any of your students that you dealt with it really stick in your mind that you think of occasionally.
27:43 There was a fella named Tommy who had tremendous issues his dad died and he was living with two sisters and his mother.
27:52 And Tommy was a very unhappy kid and I hated tried to commit suicide and
27:59 I'll after working with him continuously and so forth. We were able to get him the necessary help to help him get rid of his issues in his angry feelings in.
28:11 Be kind of a productive person and he called me some years later on just to touch bases and let me know that he was doing well that he had grown up and got hold of himself a little bit better in life. So that's always rewarding when that happens. That's wonderful.
28:35 There are other individuals that you have in contact at all their many of them. I dealt unfortunately I had to deal with a lot of child abuse cases where where kids were being mistreated are in difficult circumstances and we had to work through the circumstances with sometimes with social services and other folks. So to try to give them the support that they needed to work these serious problems through
29:06 It seems a little bit ironic that you ended up being of a teacher and being involved in the education field because I guess my impression is that you didn't particularly enjoy being a stew when you were when you were younger. Do you remember having a M1? Is that true and didn't to do you remember having like a favorite a teacher that special to you that you remember from your childhood?
29:35 Oh, yeah. I was not a particularly good student academic way through school. I had reading problems and I think at this point in time where we if they were diagnosed a b language-based learning problems. So it's difficult for me to learn by reading I had to use a multi-sensory approach and the resources that were available to me when I was growing up. We're not as sophisticated as they are now where you can diagnose him prescribed and write individual educational plans to help a child with their specific needs. So I talked it through and school wasn't a pleasant experience for me because I just I didn't process information very efficiently. I do much better in a multi-sensory environment where I can touch and taste and feel and not only learned by reading but hearing and and
30:35 Interacting with people I do much better in that mode and fortunately I got into work which where that came more frequent. The school wasn't a pleasant experience for me actually failed the third grade half a year because I couldn't read very well and I've missed you I missed a lot of time because some causes some sickness and they helped me back a half a year. So that's the way they used to do it up in Baltimore. They wouldn't they wouldn't hold you back for a whole year. They hold you back a half.
31:13 Was you went to poly we never get it. Was that a high school or middle school or High School in Baltimore City. It was a public school is the their word a different tracks at polyone was a fast-track highly academic program for Accelerated students that they could actually go into college their first year and get credits, and then I was in the B corset Polly put it was an all-boys school. It was very structured you had to tow the line all poly boys wore ties and you had to and I took a fairly rigorous technical program. Did you ride the trolley down to School Road? The number 8 streetcar from Govans down to politeknik, which was on North Avenue in Baltimore in
32:09 And I want to I want a nice day. If I felt up to it, I would walk all the way home which must have been a good five or six mile hike but in the springtime of us would lovely thing I could do that at that point that well. I think we're starting to run a little bit low on our time. So I didn't want to tell you this though. I wanted you to know how how grateful I am to have ended up in the family that I ended up in and I don't know. I don't tell you all the time. I don't people usually done at bank, but
32:50 Every day I see things in my own life that are reflection of the values that I learned from you and from Mom and the appreciation of Art and music and
33:07 Interest in the world around me and things like that. So it's really you you are you are a very special person because with all the difficulty and things that you've had in your life, you have managed to stay so positive about things about life and and really enjoy laughing and everything. I remember the first time that somebody pointed out to me how much we laugh and our family which you know, we just used to do all the time. I guess without really much thinking about it, but I remember somebody saying to me, you know, your family really likes to laugh I said, maybe you know, everybody wasn't like that, but I wanted to thank you very much for all the wonderful things that you've done.
34:05 Well, I am one of the proudest ads that can because I have two wonderful daughters that I I love very much and he believed me your actions and Aaron's actions speak louder than words. They really do be I am my most proud dad, and I will always be so that's one of my biggest claims to accomplishments is having you girls with your mom, and I really appreciate that. Thank you. Thanks. Thanks.
34:38 Are we?