There were no nominations for a June 12 birthday celebrant but while I was researching for a future post I learned about a remarkable achievement by a former Amsterdam resident that I wished to share and wouldn’t you know it, today was her birthday. It all started when I came across the name of “Ernie Centerbar.”
That name was a familiar one around here, especially among folks from Hagaman, where Ernie used to live and was heavily involved in the village’s politics and youth sports programs. Ernie was married to Irene Calloway. Irene had a sister named Dorothy who was born on today’s date in 1932, but not in Amsterdam. The Calloway girls were born in Huntsville, AL. They moved north as teenagers, when their parents re-settled in Amsterdam. Dorothy was better known as Dot and she was a sharp, very confident young lady who graduated from Wilbur Lynch in the Class of 1951. One day after she got that diploma she went for a job interview at GE in Schenectady and so impressed her interviewer, she was hired on the spot. It was while working at GE that she met and fell in love with Howard “Pete” Connors of Mechanicville.
Pete and Dot got hitched and during the next twelve years they had what can only be described as the perfect marriage. She described her husband as her best friend and soul mate and they had eight children. That’s right, they had eight children in twelve years. Then tragically, Howard died. Stop and think what it must have been like to be in Dot’s shoes. A single Mom in the early 1960’s with eight young kids to raise, alone.
The remarkable thing about all good Mom’s is that regardless of how tough life becomes for them, they somehow find the strength and courage to go on for the sake of their children. Dot Connor was a perfect example.
She would spend every day of the rest of her life taking care of and nurturing her family. Every morning each of her kids ate a good breakfast before school, a lovingly packed lunch and a full course dinner in the evening, always with a special dessert. Dot also made sure each of her six sons and two daughters participated actively in scouting, music, creative arts and sports. Those of us who are blessed enough to have raised children know full well the time, effort and commitment necessary to do so. My wife and I had four and I honestly can’t imagine how I could have done for them alone what we were able to accomplish together, even with help from extended family. That’s why I was in awe when I came across Dot’s story.
As you might expect, she also did not stop being a mother when her last one left the house. She continued to be the center of the family, keeping everyone connected to each other, bringing them together whenever possible and becoming a wonderful grandmother of twelve and great grandmother of three.
She closed her eyes for the last time at the age of 80 on the final day of January in 2013. After reading about her amazing achievement, raising a family of eight youngsters without her husband or their father, I found myself wondering what the first thing Howard would say to her when she was reunited with him in whatever place the spirits of two good loving people go when they die. Perhaps the most appropriate greeting would be simply, “Thank you.”