Archive for the ‘Stories from the Rose Cottage’ Category

Remembering Owasippe

Friday, June 30th, 2017

by Mary Duggan

I’ve been thinking lately about boy scouts; or should I say I’ve been reminiscing lately about boy scouts. A few weeks ago, while attending an event at a local church, I stumbled into a small room designated for boy scout meetings. It was banged up and dingy in the way you’d expect the scouting room to be. And there on the wall was a photo of Chief Owasippe admonishing scouts to join him at summer camp in Wisconsin.
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Politically so very incorrect. But what a memory!

Owasippe? I hadn’t heard that word in decades. Owasippe. That mysterious, magical summer place that drew in my brothers each summer. Boom. I was a grade schooler again, helping my mother prepare 4 of my 6 brothers for their summer boy scout camp experience. Mom and I sewed on endless pieces of cotton tape with the name Duggan printed on it; carefully stitching our family name inside dozens of briefs, cotton jammies, tube socks and swim trunks. As the years passed, the stitch on tape became iron-on tape, and then finally Magic Marker written directly onto waistbands.

I wasn’t enlightened enough to feel jealous. In fact, I was such a shy little bookworm homebody that it would never have occurred to me that a few weeks at summer camp was a grand adventure I wasn’t being afforded. Instead Mom and I kept the focus on the boys, and being prepared – so I guess I was being a bit of a scout myself. I wasn’t a girl scout, and they didn’t have a summer camp anyways. I could have been a girl scout; but it looked to me like more of the domestic skills of sewing, cooking, crafts, and baby sitting that I was already mastering under my mother’s guidance. And none of the magic and mystery of Owasippe.
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So many full-grown men make me want to scream: were you not a boy scout?!?!

I remember missing my brothers when they were gone; but I also enjoyed the quiet that came with their departure. Girls and babies were left behind to have our own close-to-home adventures, and maybe just a little bit more of Mom and Dad’s attention. There would be root beer floats in the evening, going for a drive in the car to cool down, and maybe a trip to Western Avenue for Rainbow Cones. And Mom was sure to prepare a fried chicken dinner for the beach, picking up Dad in the city on the way, his swim trunks on under his work slacks. Special treats that said you might not be at scout camp, but, you deserve some summer fun, too.

I can remember my brothers’ triumphant homecomings –  toting oodles of disgusting laundry – that I would be expected to help with. All of them competing to be heard with their stories of daring do, and skills mastered, until all of them, overcome by fatigue, bug bites, and sunburns tumbled into their twin beds and slept for what seemed like days.
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June, 1962. John, center, flanked by Paul and Tom, becomes an Eagle Scout. Front yard photo.

Of all my brothers, John, the eldest, was the most serious about scouting and the whole family was proud when he became an Eagle Scout. When I stumbled recently upon that picture of Chief Owasippe urging boys to summer camp, I snapped a picture and sent it to my brother John, now nearly 70 years old, living contentedly in a high rise in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I was curious to see what the photo would evoke. How would he feel about scouting so many years later, so much of life now lived? So much experienced that nothing could have prepared us for.

“Owasippe! I haven’t seen that word in decades!” he wrote back to me. I would not have been surprised to have him lecture me on cultural mis-appropriation; or comment on the political missteps scouting leadership has made in recent years. Or even bridge from scouting into his standard tirade about the systemic abuse within Catholic Schools. But the photo triggered nothing of the sort.
“I have so many happy memories of scouting.” he said. “And I learned a lot, even if I doubt I will ever be called upon to start a fire on the streets of Manhattan.”

There are so few memories from childhood that are clean and simple and true. I was happy for both of us that we had this one to look back on. And smile as we whispered the magical word –  Owasippe!

 

Mary Duggan

About the author: Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters, creators of lifestinks® natural deodorant that actually works and lifestings® DEET-free bug repellent. 

Spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com and experience the sisters’ spirited approach to wellness; discover their award-winning natural products; and read their stories of victory against the odds. Connect with the Duggan Sisters today!

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Ruthie’s Favorite Words

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

by Mary Duggan

ruthie mary annie kitchen

Annie and I were crying through tears as this picture was taken. Our final moments with Ruthie in her kitchen, moments before her move to Florida.

If you’ve been following along with the story behind our little business for awhile now, then you probably remember reading about our dear friend and neighbor, Ruth McNeill-Opyt.

We grew up in a big old corner farmhouse on one end of a long block in a tree-lined historic district on the South Side of Chicago. Ruthie lived in her tidy little dollhouse Georgian at the other end of that same long street. The very street where we, as sisters, still live and work to this day. Ruthie raised her 3 children at one end of the block; our mom raised her eleven at the other end. And while their lives did not cross often, they both held each other in very high esteem. Ruthie, a Protestant, used to say that she upheld one end of the block while our mother, a Catholic, upheld the other. Each of them referenced the other as always waving and having such a wonderful smile as they zipped past each other in cars filled with kids. A passing that lasted for decades.

When Clare was a little girl, she used to stop at Ruthie’s (more…)

Remember, Write, Release

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

by Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

The blogging police always recommend a limit of 700, or so, words. A few weeks back I sat down to capture a simple story – intending it to be part-three of a triptych of stories about me, mom and baby sitting – the formative endeavors and experiences of my entrepreneurial youth. I knew I would be hard-pressed to come in anywhere near 700. I never ever come close. But I never expected some 10,000 words!

A simple story that I had long wanted to share proved to be a little richer and more finely layered than I ever imagined. Door upon door opened. Windows were thrown wide with gauzy curtains flapping and gathering dirt and dust. I awoke each morning exhausted from the memories streaming and screaming all night long. Everywhere I turned there was a drawer opening itself in front of me, doink-ing me in the shin and demanding to be sorted through. I spent days in my pajamas, oblivious to the come outside and play summer finally unfolding around me. What is happening here, I implored my sister as she plowed through a first draft of 3,000 words? I am not sure this story will be of interest to anyone. It’s too simple. No one will care. I care, she said, because she is an extraordinary sister. Forget the word count, just tell the story.

mary freshman longwd

I remember 14-year old me.

And so I followed the crumbs. Some 10,000 words later I experienced a fatigue so profound that I could feel my brain shutting down for repairs. And again a reminder from my sisters. This cleanse we are pursuing so diligently this summer is not just the release of physical toxins. It must be a spiritual and emotional cleanse, as well. I am still not sure about the long and leisurely telling of this story.  But it has gotten itself told. As stories are so often prone to do. Fingers crossed that it gets itself read, as well.

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About the author: Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

The Mary Kays: Part Five – Fallen Heroes

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Thanks to a rented power boat provided by my Uncle Les, I had become quite a skilled and daring water skier during our family summer vacations at Powers Lake, Wisconsin. But snow skiing was something else altogether – more terrifying and definitely requiring a social skill set for navigating the lodge that I did not possess. My mother’s cousin, Donna, lent me the proper clothing and Dick and Mary Kay popped for skis and lift fees and everything else I might need. I had taken preparatory classes at the local park district – so I essentially knew how to slow down on the bunny hill. Other than that I was clueless. But Dick and Mary Kay were good for their word and I never had to lift a finger during our one week ski trip. I was not there as the baby sitter – though I felt more than a twinge of guilt as I watched the ski patrol load a small boy in really bad shape onto a stretcher to carry him off the slope and realized it was Dickie! (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part Four – Bears, Musky and Moose, Oh My!

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Mary Kay entered my world in the Fall of eighth grade, when she pulled her VW bug into our driveway seeking boys to plant bulbs at her brand new complex of condos. My mother assigned my brothers to this one-time task; while I quickly became a regular fixture in the Carlson household. By the summer after eighth grade I had become so helpful to Mary Kay that she approached my mother with a plan for me to join in on the Carlson extended family vacation in the North Woods of Wisconsin. For those two weeks in late August I was to be essentially an au pair, assisting with anything and everything required for a fun family get-together at their cabin in the Chequamegon National Forest just outside Hayward, Wisconsin. More precisely in a custom-designed A-frame cabin perched on a steep hillside overlooking Moose Lake, a 1700 acre water confluence of the Chippewa, Moose and Little Moose Rivers. Yep, Musky country. (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part Three – Shalimar

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Did Mary Kay have a clue how much she meant to me? I guess I will never know. Did she sense that things were sad and confusing at home and that her beautiful happy condo provided not only pocket money but a needed break, as well? I suppose it doesn’t matter in the long run. What matters is that when I really needed a break, she provided one. When I really needed someone to notice me and appreciate me, she did. And when she really needed a young assistant, I stepped in to her life.

And so I did her hair, as needed. I baby sat, as needed. I took her kids to the movies because she just could not stand kids movies. I didn’t much like them either; but for Mary Kay I would do whatever task was needed.  And with each encounter I learned more and more. (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part Two – Curl Up and Dye

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Just joining us?  Don’t miss The Mary Kays: Part One – The Land of the Midnight Sun

 

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

From the vantage point of age sixty, I look back on the summers Mary Kay figured so prominently in my world and I have to marvel. I have met so many interesting people in those years from 16 to 60. I  have worked at more jobs and careers than I like to admit and been shaped and inspired by too many bosses and co-workers. I have lived all over the U.S and traveled all over the world. But my memories of Mary Kay have never dimmed and her importance in my life has never diminished or been taken over by anyone else. I know now that when you are so young and the world is such a terrifying and exciting unknown a person who has gone before and successfully navigated change and is willing to share and open a window into the future for you is a gift. I treasure my simple memories of Mary Kay and wonder if she had any idea what a Godsend she was for me. (more…)

The Mary Kays: Part One – Land Of The Midnight Sun

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Two-name names were popular when I was a kid growing up in the 60s. My mom named me Mary Catherine for all the usual reasons: Mary, she explained, I hope your life will be inspired by St. Catherine of Sienna, the great Saint, who was a Doctor of the Church and a leader of men and a great writer. Really, she said that to me and I was like maybe eight years old. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it; though decades later I found a book about St. Catherine of Sienna in a hotel in Assisi and I did find it so interesting that when I was leaving and hadn’t finished it yet I took it and put it in my purse. Which my sister and traveling companion, Annie, reminded me was stealing though it didn’t feel like it at the time; maybe because I was trying to learn about the path to sainthood, after all. (more…)

I’m A Babysitter, Not An Exorcist!

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

My Mom had a genius for friendship. She gathered her life long friends, from her childhood summers on a farm in Missouri to her pinnacle life experience as a day hopper at Rosary College. She kept them close, never seemed to lose one to quarrel or misunderstanding, and presented each of them to us as a unique exemplar of womanhood. She admired their height, their sense of style, their choice of spouse, their brilliant careers and of course, their children. Her friends were second string aunties for us and their children more like cousins. She filled our lives with her wonderful friends and expanded our sense of ourselves and our definition of family in doing so. She even loved the friends of her friends – and that is where this story originated.

When friends of our “Aunt” Catherine got a job transfer that predicated a move into our neighborhood, Mom welcomed them warmly, doing everything in her power to ease their adjustment. She assured them that they would be deliriously happy on Seeley Avenue, one of the oldest, loveliest, friendliest, and most historic streets in all of Beverly.  And when their Beverly experience proved to be something other than what everyone had predicted, she was there for them then, as well. Meaning she had a new assignment for me as her go-to girl for Moms needing assistance – in this case a babysitter with that extra something. (more…)

Auntie Vi and the Wise Guys

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

My Mom was not the tender type. She was more the life is rough so you better toughen up missy type. She came by her stern life guidelines authentically. Orphaned of both parents and half her siblings by the time she was seven and auctioned off to a less than loving new family, she knew of what she spoke. But I resisted her take on life and held tightly to romantic notions of happiness for myself. Turns out, she was right. Did she prepare me for the life I have encountered? Or did she set up a prophecy that I merely fulfilled? I suppose I’ll never know. What I do know is she built me a tool box of entrepreneurial must-haves that I draw upon daily. She pimped me out constantly to needy Moms all over the neighborhood and taught me just how strong I could be. For better or worse, she made me who I am. (more…)