11/05/2011

Days 41 & 42--Memory Miles to Marg

 On these last two days of my Heartland to Harbor for Hospice charity ride, I'm riding in loving remembrance of my Aunt Margret Rose Bloomer, affectionately known to all of her grown nieces and nephews as the Mugwump or Wumps (look up the Algonquin meaning in the dictionary).

Wumps was the last of our family to move from the Albany/ Schenectady area. She lived her last half dozen years in Bristol, Rhode Island, close to my oldest brother, Phil Schuyler, and his wife Lois. She was 86 when she died, but still active despite macular degeneration. On one of my last visits to her, for example, I rented a car and over a week drove 900 miles in the area just running Wumps on errands and shopping! She popped in and out of the car with alacrity.

Margie was my mother’s younger sister and a cross between a second mother and second sister to me. She never married but was truly the hub of our entire Bloomer-Schuyler clan, visiting often and taking as much interest in our lives, and delight in our spouses and children, as our parents did or would have.

As children we’d take the train unescorted from Schenectady to visit Marg in NYC where she lived with her mother, Lydia, and worked for the ACLU. In NYC we were excited to ride the subway, on buses, in taxis, on the Staten Island ferry, and even in the horse-drawn carriages in Central Park. I remember riding my first escalator and the thrill of riding up and down on the elevator in Marg & Gram’s Irving Place apartment near Gramercy Park.

Marg took us all over NYC—to Staten Island, Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, the Empire State Building, the Museum of Natural History, to see the Rockettes. When we got off the train in NYC, Aunt Marg would often take us into a small theater in the station where we viewed exciting newsreels and cartoons.


One of my favorite NYC places was the coin operated marvel of Horn & Hardart’s automat with its walls of glass-and-chrome, self-serve, vending machines. One put a coin in a slot near a windowed door and then opened the door and lifted out a sandwich, pie, or other dish. I always took great care to walk the entire wall and inspect the dish behind each door before making a selection.

Aunt Marg even took me to her ACLU office once. I remember circling a long table helping collate a large number of typed pages. Oh how the times have changed. I don’t believe anyone types or collates by hand anymore.

In 1962 Marg was asked to go to Turkey with Dr Patrick Murphy Malin, then executive director of the ACLU, who had been appointed president of Robert College in Bebek, a suburb of Istanbul. And thus began my wanderlust. I traveled in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Denmark; spent a summer working in a small hotel on Wyk auf Fรถhr, a German island in the North Sea south of Denmark; lived for 3 months in Munich, and then took the Yugo Express from Munich to Turkey where I met Margie and Grandmother Lydia and travelled with them in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Austria. What larks we had!

These last two days to Bristol are for you, Wumps.

My sister Sarah Schuyler donated Memory Miles to Aunt Marg also. She says, “Throughout our time together, Aunt Marg was a wonderful combination for me of best friend, teacher, critic, sister-in-spirit, confidant and, most importantly, she gave me the unconditional love I needed and so appreciated. There’s so much more to say about the woman she was, but this is the gist of feelings from the connection of our hearts. I am forever grateful to have had her in my life.”

*Memory Miles were donated in fondest memory of Aunt Marg by me, my siblings, and my cousins and their families.


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