In the year of 1960, the Chevrolet Motors people came out with a new model, the revolutionary Corvair, Monza. She was a two door number of rear engine design. Sophie Mieszkiewicz at the time, still fighting off the wedding band and keeping the independence, walked right into the Ed Nacke Chevrolet, and threw down the bread. She bought a cute Corviar in Horizon blue, right off the showroom floor.
It was the new pride of her life, and the family will never forget the beam of happiness on her face, the day she wheeled into our driveway.
But just about a year later the news anchor people spoiled everything, when they broke the skeptical news, the car could be seen as dangerous with its rear-engine design. Never a gal to fight authority, she traded in the love of her life.
But that’s the way she played her cards. Her favorite lesson to kids around pushing the envelope, was “When you get pulled over by the cops, give them respect and make them feel important. Say “Yes officer, and no officer” and they might let you off the hook.”
Born in Easthampton, Massachusetts on March 5th of 1922, she was the daughter of Joseph and Caroline Mieszkiewicz. Sophie had a brother Hank and sister’s Irene and Helen. She leaves her niece Judy Meitz – Director and Chief of DNA Chromosome Aberration, Cancer Division of NIH; nephews Dennis, Kevin, Stephen; and the RIP nephews of Timmy Tolin and David Deck. Sophie was close to Crystal Deck and her children Lauren and Jared.
As a young lady, Sophie worked the office of Hotel Northampton. She loved her position, could dress the part, and the owner was very generous with a gratis lunch.
But an opening appeared at Westover Air Force Base as a public servant, and reluctantly gave her two week notice. She went with her gut feeling – sound thinking – that working for the Federal Government would provide lifetime security, including the blanket of sound retirement.
Sticking to her guns, always respecting authority, the high military brass took a shining to Sophie, and she moved up the government ladder. Also too, she met the love of her life behind the gates of Westover Air Force Base, supply clerk Perino DeVecchi. The lovers quickly engaged, and after the church wedding inside Mater Dolorosa, invited all guests to the Log Cabin.
Those were the old days, Mister, when giants roamed the land. Edna Williams owned and ran the Cabin, busting out the glass ceiling with a woman’s love and passion for her restaurant business. Right next door inside the Old Mill, was a singular figure named Mrs. Cormier, holding down the luncheon counter all alone, a one-woman show who ran the mountain’s lunch box, while her husband was out drilling water wells. Both women held their ground for over 25 years, never whimpering, no signs of a gripe, working themselves from the black cracks of pre-dawn, until long after night tides engulfed the face of Mt. Tom.
Labor’s of love ran the mountain’s margin, and just down the ridge line in a pinched hollow, was Mountain Park. The amusement park was run by an impeccable dresser and a true and kind gentleman, by the name of Jay Collins. And you would have to gut out this city wide and deep, to find another of his polished caliber; and the only name that comes to mind inside the gutting chamber, is attorney Louis Oldershaw who fit Jay’s shoes like blue suede, and by all definitions stricken in Webster’s Dictionary, was the exemplary consummate gentleman. Two men born into the demeanor, as pure class acts.
But no matter how much bread the military brass waived in her face, how many sheaves of green bucks were inside the Log Cabin’s till, how many chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry milk shakes Mrs. Cormier needed to whip out for turning profits, Sophie Caroline DeVecchi would never sell out her soul for the almighty buck. She lived a simple life, embracing a piked staff of faithful devotion: The Lord is my salvation.
You could see her every Sunday in the front pew of Mater Dolorosa Church, a run of what was it – forty years? – where she never missed a Sabbath Mass with her lips going a mile a minute over black rosary beads; and she was dead serious too, her gaze in faith someplace off between and through the masonry walls. Sophie was all about showing true respect to authority, and nobody in her soul held a more mighty hand than the Lord. She was riveted in steadfast allegiance of Hope through Faith, clear as the enameled blue sky is cased around the orange wafer of sun.
As the years passed, Sophie moved inside the wonderful world of Providence Place. Her glee was attending Mass inside the elaborately adorned church, sitting high in the jube, looking straight down on the priest’s head and listening to bible scripture in the echo chamber, looking forward to receiving communion in her bird’s nested alcove.
Even at Mount Saint Vincent Nursing Home, under mandatory nursing care, she found ways to be pushed in her wheel chair, and listen to Father Reindeau’s voice transition the gospel’s teaching, into home spun short stories stricken with lessons of parable. Father Reindeau told a Mass straight up, and I never saw more than two people sleeping, because he always had some slap stick jokes for winding down the Mass. That’s when a sleepy-head would snap out of his power nap, and exclaimed to the church goer in the next pew “What the hell’s so funny? I must know the punch line. Tell me at once at all costs.”
Sophie even took steps in her prearranged funeral, to personally hand Barry Farrell a hand written note, a request to lug her casket inside the Lord’s house for a Christian Burial Mass. That wish was carried out by Father Gentile inside Blessed Sacrament Church, where the priest spewed wafts of Holy Smoke around her casket.
Three pages of an old book untouchable these days on account of the trend, torn abruptly from the hide glue binder. Edna Williams, Mrs. Cormier, and the last tethered page of the saga, who always shinned toward authority.
It was once said by my hero, Stephen Crane in his Red Badge of Courage, sentence blocks stricken with terms of color and grammar savagely molded to the calling needs of a point, “A serious prophet upon predicting a flood, should be the first man to climb a tree. This would demonstrate he was indeed a sneer.”
The flood has advanced. An old tree on the mountain’s face, had fallen into dust. Three figures had been seen dashing from the scene, unscathed. An eruption of star burst had been marked in the zenith. Secret combinations had been tumbled, revealing a lush green valley past the white puffy clouds, someplace beyond the wash of fairy blue sky. Three old blue hairs were rocking under the prolific apple tree, its vibrant green foliage shimmering in tranquility.
In their lives, the old blue hairs seldom gave free advice, because they were driven woman of focused labors, walking defiantly through shards of crushed glass. But if they were beckoned into a prophet’s role, perhaps egged on by a Guardian Angel, they would most often open up behind sheepish sneers, and spill a simple truth to the circus acts of new millenniums taking wild shots at breaking glass:
“Always move forward with constructive responsibility, driven by virtues of hard work applied over spans of time, case-hardened with perseverance…instead of hiding behind those false securities, Sister, vexing the world with your plasterings of tattoo inks, piercing your body parts with a spattering of studs and silver hoops, rubbing green and purple dye through your locks, because the only one you’ve been fooling all along is thy very own self.”
Written for Aunt Sophie,
Stephen Deck, December 6th, 2018