Children love to draw, to create, starting early to express themselves with crayon, pencil and chalk for the sidewalks, the latter a timeless endeavor for all childhoods then and now.
Bear with me folks, I really am going somewhere with this….promise.
At Cohannet School, I had Miss O'Keefe for art class. I remember distinctly drawing a copy of a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover, a bellhop carrying a load of coats, his cap askew.
Then on to high school and this is where I have been heading. A real art studio classroom finally, with Mrs. Rosemary Corrigan McGrath as art teacher. A gentle quiet woman who shared with us her love of art with pencil and brush. Sitting in front of easel tables in a quiet environment allowed our imaginations to flow. My project was a bride in a long ivory gown..I think in oil but perhaps, in pastel. It seems to me that from these teachers was born a lifelong love of creating art and finally teaching it, a second career for me. I was forever hooked. I just found this photo of that high school art room in my 57 class yearbook. Does it bring back memories! One can sense the quiet intensity as we worked on our masterpieces!
That quiet intensity was fostered by this marvelous woman. Years and years later when I taught art classes I think that atmosphere was one I tried to emulate for my students.
Photo from Taunton High School
1957 Class Yearbook
Flash forward. This is where my story gets even more interesting and we see the circles of life. As I mentioned my first career was in health care. In the early 70's I was a nursing supervisor at St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River, Mass. Mrs Mcgrath was admitted to that hospital and was very ill. I was able to return some of her kindness and inspiration as I was able to be with her very often. Both myself and the hospital Catholic Chaplin were from Taunton, myself one of her former students. She was immensely comforted by this as was her husband Charles. To be with her at the end was an honor for me. She had gifted me with a love of art that would grace my whole life and a belief in my abilities.
It is such a blessing when we are ably to give something back in return.
Now on to Mr. Charles McGrath Rosemary's husband. Here in this Village/Taunton blog along he comes to give something to us as well. I recall Charles as a charming person when I met him at the hospital. It seems he was a whole lot more than that.
Once more Arlene Gouveia has stepped into one of our stories.
Charles was a dancer for many years on Broadway in the late 20's and 30's. He knew those performers who so enamored and entertained us having performed in the Zeigfield Follies and other Broadway shows with them. Such performers as Ray Bolger for just one example. They were apparently great friends, both hailing from Massachusetts, Ray an Irish lad from Dorchestor. Charlie said he was a nice guy….we could always tell that.
I include these wonderful You Tube videos so you can truly get the flavor.
Below Ray Bolger and Once in Love with Amy
He knew Will Rogers, a figure beloved by Americans.
In 1930 when Ginger Rogers got a plum role in the famous Gershwein musical "Crazy Girl", he was already her friend. Charles danced in that show, too. Ethel Merman was also in Crazy Girl and Fred Astaire was choreographer!! Charlie was there at the birth of the Astaire-Rogers
famous partnership that charmed us all.
In 1933, Charlie met Bob Hope who was on Broadway with "Roberta." He was there for it all. He even knew Fannie Brice and Eddie Cantor who appeared with him in the Follies.
When Arlene and her husband went in search of the McGraph cemetery site they found a historic marker with a grandfather who served in the Civil War in the Union army. Poignantly, at the base of the monument is engraved: Designed by Rosemary McGrath, teacher and artist. Rosemary and Charles did not have any children, nonetheless they left a legacy and their marks on history. They did this especially by endowing an art scholarship in their names given each year to a graduating student deserving art student at Taunton High School.
Rosemary died in 1971, Charles in 1981. For years, Charles worked as a clerk
in the Taunton City Hall Cemetery Department.
in the Taunton City Hall Cemetery Department.
This story comes full circle as I write this post. Who knew the story of that lovely gentlemen who sat faithfully at his wife's bedside day after day, their dignity and love impressing everyone who cared for her. An example, once again, of the rich history that so often dwells silently in the hearts and memories of the people that God puts on our path.