Tag Archives: Drexel Hill

VJ Day to CPA

I was around for VJ Day [Aug 14, 1945], which was a great celebration. Firecrackers. It meant that all the boys were coming home. It was a great, great emotional day.

Taylor, Separation of Service from Navy 11.29.1946

Taylor, Separation of Service from Navy 11.29.1946

We stayed there [Drexel Hill] until 19—what was it?—1945 and then we moved to the Boston area, into Newton, in another subdivision of Newton, which was called Auburndale. We stayed there for many years. Dad [Taylor] had bought this house for something like $15-, $18,000, the whole house. It was a big house; a very big house; a big, white, wood house. Yes, in Auburndale.

[Heidi]: May I ask you? So Grandpa originally comes out of Kentucky, then moves to Massachusetts, then to Philadelphia, back to Massachusetts—what’s the draw to Massachusetts? What? Why? I know Philadelphia was. . . .

I think he was in Philadelphia before and that’s where he met Mom, Grandma, Virginia White Duncan. Or was it New York? I may well have been New York.

[Heidi]: It was New York where they met.

Now she was also in the Navy and she was a typist, secretary, shorthand, did shorthand, and I think met him in the work which she did with him. Now he was at the, by the end of the Second World War, he was manager of a large company that made airplanes for the war. But some of the airplanes never got used because the war ended.

Anyway we moved up to Boston.

[Heidi]: Do you know why?

Up in Boston there was a job at the Bentley school. And he had a job of teaching there. Now that school was in Boston itself. It’s now found in Waltham, Massachusetts, but then it was in Boston, not too far from the Prudential, near where that is now.

[Eric?]: He was in accounting.

He was an accountant, right.

[Eric?]: He was also a CPA.

Yeah. CPA is a Certified Public Accountant. He would, that was his, he enjoyed teaching. He was a good teacher.

He had gone to Boston University and he was one of the first students in that era that he was there to study accounting. And he was, I’m told, the best student that they had ever had early in the course of the teaching at the university in the accounting work.

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • What stories of the war ending celebrations do you recall? Do you recall your parents telling you?
  • Lee, Betty, Steve: can you add details about what dinner with your family was like that night? What you and your friends did? What your mother or father said? Was there a special statement or service at church?
  • Do you ever remember watching Grandma take dictation in shorthand or translate shorthand back into regular text? Was she good at it? Do you have any samples of her work?
  • Does anybody have additional accountant/CPA stories from Grandpa that you’d like to share?

Little Steve Sees “Japanese” Bombers

Philadelphia Defense Council Warden Badge, courtesy of Flying Tiger AntiquesIt was at two years old [1942] that I—and the rest of the family—we moved to Philadelphia area, Drexel Hill, 325 Riverview Avenue. That just sticks in my mind and Drexel Hill. We did that because Dad [Taylor] was in the navy.

In the First World War, he was a seaman. In the Second World War, he became an officer to the point where at the end of that war and in retirement, he was a captain level, which is the same as a colonel in the army, which is quite an honorable position.

Dad was a determined guy and a very much of an expert or—let me just say—a perfectionist. He was an accountant before the navy and after the navy and he taught at Bentley University, Bentley College, which now is a university.

In the navy, back to the navy, back in the Second World War, we were at this place in Drexel Hill. After the war—and I recall the VJ Day—and there were some things that were outstanding that I recall in Drexel Hill.

Because I have some very creative brothers, they taught me that Japanese planes were coming in to bomb us. The story had gotten around. They put me in a two-sided porch, two-windowed, windowed on two sides. All I could see was these Japanese planes coming down to bomb us during the blackout time.

Blackouts meant everybody had to turn out their lights in the whole city because they thought that—it was actually in relationship to Germany—because they thought the Germans would fly over and see the houses and see the outline of the houses on ultra—not ultraviolet, but red—infrared vision of the housing and would bomb. We’ll we didn’t know that and we had the blackouts anyway.

Dad, Taylor Albert Duncan Senior, he was one of the wardens, who went around the streets when he got home from the navy time, and he would insist that the city was blacked out. Of those around in his neighborhood, he was responsible. He would make sure that people had their lights out or you couldn’t see it in the houses with lights.

And so that is one of the very prominent memories that I have of the Second World War. I have other little memories, but that was a very outstanding one. I was for sure I could see these Japanese planes because, as I say, I have very creative brothers. They would tell me about all this was happening. It, of course, never did happen.

[325 Riverview Avenue, Drexel Hill, PA is correct. I’ve previously reported Grandma Duncan’s version, which was Riverview Cove. It is listed on the maps as Avenue.—dch]

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • What do you remember of the blackouts?
  • What stories have your folks told you about that period?
  • Do you recall Grandpa Taylor serving as an air raid warden? What can you tell us about it? Did he wear a special patch, badge, or uniform? Did he have to “report” houses that weren’t blacked out? How did he deal with enforcement?
  • Do you remember Steve sleeping on this porch? Do you recall him expressing fear? Do remember the “Japanese bombers” story? What can you tell us about it?

Wally, a Bird, and Some Glue

Glass CasterWith so many men away [at war in 1942], 13-year-old Wally was offered the job as janitor in the little Baptist Church in Drexel Hill, where his dad was a deacon.

One Saturday, when Wally came in to clean, he heard a small bird fluttering above in the rafters. Wally took a castor from under the leg of a chair and used it as a shot-put to hit the bird. Each time he threw it, the bird fluttered to the other end of the ceiling. Then it happened. The glass castor hit the beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

He rode his bike to his friend’s house and asked him to come and help. He went home and got some airplane glue and rode back to the church. The two boys got banquet tables, which were stored, screwed in the legs made of pipe, and stacked them on top of each other to make a scaffold. With his friend holding on, Wally climbed up and glued the two pieces of the chandelier back together again.

Many years later, when we were in Philadelphia, Wally took me back to the church and we found it open. Sure enough, we could see the line of repair. I don’t know if anyone at the church ever found out.

written memories of Wally, contributed by Barbara (Wally’s wife), December 12, 2012

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Do you remember this story? What other details can you add?
  • What was the name of the small Baptist church in Drexel Hill? Or was this Wayland Baptist Church in Meadville that the family attended briefly before moving (see Virginia Accepts the Lord)?

Wendell Is Sweet on Lee

The first time we [Caleys] had any contact with the Duncans, we were living at 222 Stanley Avenue, Manoa, Pennsylvania. I lived there with my family. We had five children. They lived not far away.

We were sitting out on the front steps, and this lady with a baby carriage came by. That was Mrs. Duncan with Lee [b. 26 Oct 1927] walking along. Probably Bob [b. 13 Nov 1933] in the carriage.

I can’t really remember how old I was but probably between four and eight. I was born January 16, 1928. Lee is a couple of years older than I. I believe that’s how my mother met the Duncan family.

The next time I remember the Duncans, I was a teenager. My father said, “I’d like to take you to the church where they were having a Christmas program.” Lee Duncan played the part of Mary. It was a liberal Baptist church.

We went to Aldan Union Church in Aldan, Pennsylvania. My father was interested in getting the Duncan family to come to Aldan Union. They came to Aldan Union.

Upper Darby High School, courtesy of Google

Upper Darby High School, courtesy of Google

I think was in high school. I attended Yeadon High School. The Duncan kids went to school in Drexel, Pennsylvania. Upper Darby High School, I think. Lee would know.

We didn’t play them in sports. We were in youth group together at Aldan Union Church. Wally was younger [b. 9 May 1929]. He was not in the youth group that Lee and I were in. I don’t know if Lee was interested in me, but she was the first girl I was interested in. She was pretty, about my age, a Christian. We did things together because the youth group did things.

My mother was part of the contact with the Duncans. She invited Mrs. Duncan to a women’s Bible study. It was taught by a lady in Aldan Union. She came. In fact if I remember correctly, they [eventually] met in the Duncan home at Riverview when an additional Bible study began. It was a beautiful big home in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby [325 Riverview Cove, Drexel Hill, PA 19026].

*NB: Wendell Caley was born in January of 1928. If Bob was the baby in the carriage, then it was 1934 or later since Bob was born in November of 1933. (I doubt they were perambulating in the dead of winter with a one-month-old). That would mean Wendell was probably five or six and Lee was seven or eight when the Duncans first met the Caleys.

excerpt from a Skype conversation between Wendell Caley (longtime friend of the Duncan family) and Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), January 29, 2013

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  •   Do you remember this story? What other details can you add?
  •   Does Lee recall Wendell being sweet on her?
  •   Can Lee tell about her own experiences of youth group at Aldan Union?
  •   Is there anything you want to add about going to high school at Upper Darby High School?

Taylor Takes a Job at Bentley

[Barb]: You had four children at Drexel Hill and somewhere along the line you had two more.

[Virginia]: Those were all in Massachusetts, after I got to Massachusetts.

[Barb]: During the war you were moving back and forth, Philly to Mass.

USS Squalus under construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1938, courtesy of wreckhunter dot net[Virginia]: I think—I don’t exaggerate—we moved first from Boston to Philadelphia. Back again to Boston again because Daddy [Taylor] was sent to the Navy yard. You know, before that he was all over. Then back again to Boston. This time he was sent to New Hampshire.

[Barb]: Portsmouth.

[Virginia]: To the Navy yard in New Hampshire, which was on the border. I mean, it was easy to get from there to where we lived. He was up there most of the time. It was many hours in between.

Bentley College, 921 Boylston Street, its location since 1919, photo after building facelift in 1962, courtesy of Bentley LibraryIn the meantime, he applied to the Bentley School of Accounting and Finance [now Bentley University, Department of Accountancy] because he could see the writing on the wall that the war [World War II, ended 1945] was going to end, you know. He wanted to be prepared, to see if he could get his job back as a teacher, as an instructor, as a professor. He was never a real professor because that’s a specialty, but he was an instructor under Bentley. Mr. Bentley was a very exacting man. My husband didn’t get along too well with him. As you can imagine, they were two of a kind. He thought an awful lot of my husband’s ability. I was always very proud to have him working there because you had to have a pretty good standing or you could never get a job in that school.

All this time our family was growing up. Wally especially was into this and that and the other thing because he was getting older. He had graduated from high school and college. He hadn’t graduated from college yet, but he was going into college, into Gordon, Gordon Seminary [now Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary]. He loved it very much but it was pretty confining and Wally never was one to be confined much. He always wanted to spread out.

partial conversation between Virginia and Barbara Duncan (Wally’s wife) in the summer of 1987, courtesy of Barbara Duncan

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • What do you remember of all this moving around about which Grandma speaks?
  • Presumably Grandma is speaking about World War II when she says it was ending. Can you verify that?
  • Can you tell more about Grandpa’s work in Portsmouth, New Hampshire?
  • Can you tell us more about his work at Bentley?
  • Can you pin down the exact year that he went to work at Bentley? Had he worked there before the war?

Virginia Accepts the Lord

This was in Washington. We went to Washington DC then, where Daddy had a job. He was an auditor, an accountant with the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. He was considered a top-notch accountant. He was a CPA in the state of Pennsylvania and in the state of New York and in the state of . . . ah . . .

[Barbara]: Go ahead. In the state of? In where?

In Philadelphia, New York, and in Washington. He had a CPA. He was a very smart man.

[Barbara]: You’re doing all the talking on this tape. I’m wondering how long your voice is going to hold out almost single-handedly in this conversation. You’re doing all the talking with a few interruptions.

I was married in June. June? July? July I guess [July 25/26, 1925]. I became pregnant about six months later than that. We went up to Connecticut to my mother’s house. That’s where I had the baby. Lee was born in Connecticut [b. October 26, 1927].

[Barbara]: At home?

No. I went to the hospital. That was the only baby I had in the hospital.

[Barbara]: Is that right? OK.

All the rest, I had them at home.

[Barbara]: Isn’t that funny.

I went to the hospital. I didn’t have much trouble. I was 26 years old, you know, so I guess I was young enough and strong enough that I. . . . ‘Course it was not easy. No birth is easy. I don’t have to tell you that.

[Barbara]: So you named her?

I named her Virginia Lee. Well, her father named her. He liked, he loved Lee. He loved General Lee, so he wanted to name her Lee after General Lee.

[Barbara]: Well that’s a very interesting bit of information. I just found out on your last trip here. Because we have a Barbie Lee [b. May 30, 1976; daughter of Wally]. And of course, let’s see, the new baby in Bob’s family is Jessica Lee [b. July 2, 1987; granddaughter of Bob]. And I’m sure there are other Lees. But I never realized that the derivative of that was. . . .

You did name her after my Virginia Lee?

[Barbara]: Yeah, we did. We thought it was a nice-sounding name, but primarily it was because we had an Aunt Lee that we really loved. But it’s interesting that where it really came from was General Lee and I never knew that.

General Lee.

Then we went back to Philadelphia to live and we lived in what is known as Chester Avenue in Philadelphia. Out, you know, out . . . in Philadelphia. After that we moved to Menoa in Philadelphia. And from Menoa, we . . . then the war came along again. See this was the next World War. Daddy went back into the service. . . .

[Barbara]: Well wait a minute, back to Philadelphia because I know Wally was born in Haverford.


[Barbara]: So it was in that time that you were in Philadelphia that you went from Connecticut with Lee and then to Philadelphia.

I went back and forth. We went back and forth. We moved two or three times.

[Barbara]: But now Wally was born how many months later? Eighteen months later, I think you told me.

Well, first Lee was born, you know. She’s the oldest. Then Wally [b. May 9, 1929]. They were all born in Menoa.

[Barbara]: Oh, Menoa! At home this time, though.

At home, yeah. And then Betty was born in Menoa. Then we went to Drexel Hill.

325 Riverview Ave, Drexel Hill, PA, n.d.  courtesy of Colin Duncan[Barbara]: What was the address there? [325 Riverview Cove, Drexel Hill, PA].

I can’t remember.

[Barbara]: You can’t remember. We tried the other day to figure that out.

I could take you to it, but I do not remember what that. . . . I think Wally asked me that the other day.

[Barbara]: Yeah, we had met that gentleman.

I cannot remember. I know that it was in Drexel Hill.

In the meantime, you know, I had met Mrs. Caley of the Caleys. Wendell and all of that Caley family and Wally were very friendly.

[Barbara]: Of course.

She was the one that introduced me to the Aldan Union Church [7 East Providence Road, Aldan, PA 19018]. Wayland Baptist Church, 11603 South Wayland Road, Meadville, PA 16335We didn’t go to that Wayland Baptist Church [11603 South Wayland Road, Meadville, PA 16335] very long because we moved away, see? So then I went to the Aldan Union Church and that is where we really found the Lord, you know. I can’t remember exactly, but I do think that that’s where I was saved. It was in the Aldan Union Church.

[Barbara]: That’s a story, yeah. Mrs. Caley worked on you for a time, didn’t she?

Oh, yeah, she worked. Every time I’d come out the door, it seemed like she was standing there waiting for me because she kept wanting me to go over to that church. Before that, you know, my husband was a Baptist and he wanted me to go to the Baptist church. Well, I went to the Baptist church but it was so uninteresting to me. It was so cold in that church as far as people were concerned.

[Barbara]: Now by this time, you had a growing family. You had what, three children? Four children?

Four children, yeah?

[Barbara]: You had four children.

Aldan Union Church, 7 East Providence Road, Aldan, PA 19018Anyway, we all went over to the U and I never was sorry. That was the most glorious church. That’s really where I found the lord in all his glory. I tell you I almost lived in that church. It was because my husband was away, you know.

[Barbara]: Tell me how you met the Lord. You probably want to put that down. That’s probably one of the best stories you have.

How I met the Lord?

[Barbara]: Yeah.

Well, he gave the invitation. We went into the Sunday; no, it was the daily vacation Bible school. We were all assembled together in this outer room. He said, “Is there anybody would like to give their heart to the Lord?” or something. I don’t know how he put it. Anyway, I was so thrilled. I can never tell you the way the Lord spoke to me about becoming his child. Here I thought I’d been saved many times before. In Washington and so on, I went to the church. Many times I thought I was accepting him, but this was a real acceptance under Mr. Dean. His name was Mr. William Allan Dean.

He gave this invitation: “Wouldn’t you like to accept the Lord as your savior?” I raised my hand and almost in a trance, I walked forward. I just took more courage than you have any idea. Here I was an old Episcopalian. They don’t do it that way, you know. When you got to be twelve years old, you got confirmed and that’s when you really was supposed to accept the Lord.

Anyway, that was the beginning of my interest. I always say I have to thank Mrs. Nell Caley for my salvation. She never left me alone. She was bound I was going to go over to that church. The funny part of it was they didn’t stay in that church very long themselves. They left me there, not having her to talk to me or anything. I just considered that the Lord called me and I accepted him wholeheartedly at that time. So that was the beginning of my interest in things Christian.

[Barbara]: Now the Caleys were still in Philadelphia. They didn’t move away, did they?

They lived in Philadelphia, but they were the kind of people that were always having some kind of an altercation with somebody, you know. If you knew Mrs. Caley, . . . did you ever meet her?

[Barbara]: No.

She’s a redhead. I love her to death because she really was the one that introduced me to the Lord. But she is not easy to get along with.

[Barbara]: Oh, so they stayed in the neighborhood, but they just left the church.

Yeah. That’s right.

[Barbara]: Because I know Wally has a lot of nice stories about growing up with them.

Yeah. That is a good family, beautiful family. Not the father.

partial transcription of Virginia’s life story as told to Barbara Duncan (Wally’s wife) in the summer of 1987, courtesy of Barbara Duncan

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

•   Who else bears the “Lee” in their names? Virginia? Anyone else? What do you recall of being given that name?
•   Virginia says that she was pregnant with Lee six months after their marriage, but that would have Lee born in October of 1926, not 1927. Also, I have two different days for Virginia’s marriage, though I believe 7/26 to be accurate. Can someone confirm Taylor and Virginia’s marriage date and someone confirm Lee’s birthdate, just so I can be sure? Thanks.
•   Did you ever meet Mrs. Caley? Dad? Betty? Lee? What do you recall of her demeanor?
•   Do you recall the circumstances of the Caley’s leaving Alden Union Church?
•   Virginia ends on an ominous note about Mr. Caley. What do you recall of him?