Al Fox & Marguerite Morgan - A Brief History J. Gary Fox
To my knowledge, no one ever called my father "Albert"; he was always "Al".
His father, Henry Fox, and mother, Mary Holbrook, were born in England. He was the fifth of seven children.
In the 1900 US Fall River Census the Fox and Holbrook families lived only a few doors down from each other on Crawford and Howe Streets respectively and they were probably close friends.
Both he and my mother attended the Fowler Grammar School. He did not graduate and it was most likely that he held various odd jobs before joining the Navy in Providence, RI on November 13, 1924. He was 18 at the time and his enlisted rank was "Apprentice Seaman No. 204-26-71".
On the enlistment form his address was initially typed as "154 Fox St. Fall River", but that was crossed out and "285 Nassee St, Brooklyn, NY" was written in. This was also his fathers address and it may have reflected the familys recent move to Brooklyn. His occupation listed in Navy papers was "oiler". This term is still used today for ship personnel who do maintenance in the Engine room.
He was 56 ˝, weighed 136 lbs, and had light brown hair and brown eyes. He served two years and four months of his four-year term on various ships in the Pacific Fleet.
In 1927 he met my mother, Marguerite Morgan. Her father, John Morgan, was born in Fall River, MA, and her mother, Margaret Timlin, was born in Haslingden, England. Both her parents and grandparents trace their roots back to Ireland. She was an only daughter and she had three close loving brothers - John, Raymond and Roy.
While my mother is listed on her birth certificate and marriage certificate as "Margaret", the family always called her "Marguerite". We're not sure why this "renaming" occurred, but, with all the "Margarets" in the family, perhaps this prevented confusion. (Her oral history of life in Fall River and NYC can be accessed by clicking Marguerite Fox.)
They were married April 6, 1929 in Brooklyn, NY. Over the next ten years, she had two daughters - Barbara (b. 1929), Joan (b.1936), and one son , John Gary (b. 1939).
In accordance with the family tradition of name-confusion, " John Gary" was on the Baptism certificate and was always used by the family and "John Paul" on the NYC birth certificate. John was used by teachers and classmates and is the "official" name in city and school records. To this was added the Catholic Confirmation name of Joseph and the Jewish Conversion name of Yosef and is another story.
My father worked at many jobs over the ensuing decades ... but never for long. In the early 1930’s he was a delivery driver and phone company lineman. In 1939 he worked for the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
Although of modest height, he was powerfully built with massive forearms, biceps, and shoulders. He was intelligent and liked to read, but he was somewhat of a loner and we had only intermittent contact with our Uncles and Aunts.
He hated to be "bossed" and he would only accept and keep jobs that had little or no supervision. This limited his job opportunities and our family income ... to put it mildly.
To help support the family when he wasnt working or working only part time, my mother worked and worked and worked as a phone operator, waitress, factory worker, and cleaning woman. She often provided the bulk of the family income or at least a large portion of it.
In spite of the familys many hardships, she was a warm, loving mother and a gentle person.
In the 1950s, he earned a living as a building superintendent, or "Super", as native New Yorkers call them, while she continued to supplement the family income by cleaning apartments.
The buildings he managed were midsized ones with 30 to 80 families. The Super had to live in the building, handle the rents, and do minor repairs and maintenance. To be qualified to maintain the oil furnaces, City testing and certification was required. Our family would stay in an apartment building for a few weeks, a few months or, at most, a few years depending on the "relationship" my father had with the building owners or managers.
In 1959, while he was cleaning out a recessed below ground grate outside an apartment building in Rego Park, Queens, the furnace boiler unexpectedly discharged a large quantity of steam into the grate. He was badly scalded and, a few days later on December 19th, he died of complications from the injury . He was 53 and is buried at St. Marys Cemetery in Queens, NY.
I took an early discharge from the Army in 1960 to take care of my mother. We lived in Jackson Heights, Queens in an apartment building he once managed. In 1966 my mother moved to NJ and lived in a Senior apartment. When she became frail, she lived with my Sister, Barbara, for her remaining years.
She died on May 6,1986 at age 76 in Red Bank, NJ, from emphysema caused by smoking. She is buried at Mt. Olive Cemetery in Middleton, NJ.
Click on names for summary Family Trees.
Marguerite Morgan Albert (Al) Fox
Born August 04, 1909 September 28, 1906
Married April 06, 1929
Died May 06, 1986 December 15, 1959