According to an old Irish legend, Saint Bridget made a deal with Saint Patrick that would allow for women to propose to men on Leap Day (February 29th). A man had to pay a penalty if he refused a woman’s proposition of marriage on this day. Now, I don’t know if any of the women in my family took advantage of this Irish legend, but I do know that we had a Leap Day Baby among my ancestors.
My paternal grandfather Charlie had a half brother named Joseph Gary. Joseph was born on Leap Day in 1912 to Bridget Elizabeth Chambers (Charlie’s mom) and her husband Joseph Francis Gary. At the time of his birth at their home (located at 310 Huron), the father Joseph was 28 years old and employed as a caulker for the city of Chicago and Bridget (his mother) was 35 years old. Joseph was Elizabeth’s 5th child but only her 2nd living one.
Joseph Gary married a woman named Jessica. I haven’t had any luck finding out her maiden name, where she was born, etc. However, I did have the opportunity to meet her several times as a child. She was a very nice woman. I can’t find Joseph in the 1930’s census so I am definitely hoping that I have much better luck with the 1940’s census.
Joseph and Jessica (or Jesse as she was known to us) lived in Glendale, California. I found them in several city directories of Glendale in the 1950’s. In the 1953 directory, it listed Joe as an “armature winder”. Okay, definitely needed to look up that one and found that it meant his job was to locate the broken part of an electric motor (and more specifically its coils) and to repair or replace it. In the 1954 directory, his job was listed as electrical repair and then machine operator in 1955. Then from 1958 to 1960, he was a gardener for the Board of Education.
Joseph died on March 6, 1974 in Glendale, California. His funeral was held at the Holy Family Catholic Church. He was buried at Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood.
In the above photo, Uncle Joe is the man sitting at the bottom of the photo, while his wife Aunt Jesse is the hair with the white hair in the rear left. I remember my Dad and Grandpa Charlie always making a big deal about Uncle Joe’s birthday. They thought it was utterly fascinating that he only had a birthday every 4 years. So, even though in 1972, he was 60 years old, he really had only celebrated 15 birthdays.
Happy Birthday, Uncle Joe, who if still alive, would be celebrating his 100th birthday today and only his 25th actual birthday celebration!