Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

This lovely lady is my grandmother, Mary Marcella (Wychulis) Douglas. Today would be the 111th anniversary of her birth. I was named for her (actually for both my grandmothers, as they had the same first name.....pretty convenient!), and she has a special place in my heart. She is one of my ancestors that I had the very special privilege to know personally.

Grandma was born February 5, 1898 to Jacob and Anna Wychulis, two immigrants to Pennsylvania from Lithuania who came to this country between 1888 and 1895. Mary grew up in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, the fourth oldest of eight children. She met my grandfather, Adam Anthony Douglas, who had immigrated from Lithuania in 1914, and they were married in St. Casimir's Church, Pittston, Pa, on May 23, 1921. This is a photo of their marriage certificate.

St. Casimir's must have been a Lithuanian church, as their names have a Lithuanian spelling, Dobrovolskas (Douglas) and Vaiciulis (Wychulis). I remember Grandma telling a story on herself about when she and Grandpa were dating. One night she wanted to go out with another fellow and so she told Grandpa she couldn't go out with him. Who should she meet when she was walking home with her date, but Grandpa. She said he was pretty mad. I guess he forgave her.

Grandpa died in 1956 and Grandma lived until 1984. Grandma always regretted not having more education. I remember that for a while, Grandma was one of the cafeteria ladies, making lunch at a high school in Alexandria, Virginia, where she lived. But mostly, I remember Grandma coming to stay with us when my dad was stationed away from the family. Since there were 6 kids in my family, I know how much mom must have appreciated the help. Here is a picture taken about 1958 of Grandma and some of her grandchildren. I'm the cute one, second from the right with the donut braid on top of her head.

I know how much I appreciated having her to talk to. She used to say, “Be a good girl, Mary Lou. Study hard, and help your mother.” She was a devout Catholic, and I remember her “saying her rosaries” every day. Also, watching her “stories” every day.....she introduced me to “Search for Tomorrow” and “Guiding Light” when they were 15 minute episodes. I watched “Guiding Light” for years.

Now that I'm a “Nana”, I think about her often. Her family was the center of her life. Her life wasn't big, and she probably didn't think it was very special.

But it was special to me.


  1. What lovely memories! Do you remember which high school she worked at? (We live quite near Alexandria - my girls went to St. Stephen's and St. Agnes.)

  2. If memory serves, it was something like Mount Vernon or George Washington. I do think it was a public high school.