The Leisey Family Website


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On September 25, 1925, Melvin Thomas Leisey was born in Birdsboro. His middle name was taken from Dad's oldest brother, Thomas. Melvin went by the nickname of Meb because he had a childhood speech impediment and could not pronounce Melvin.

Robert Bruce Leisey was born on October 2, 1929, at 716 East Second St., Birdsboro, PA. Bob was named after Dad's youngest brother, Robert. Bob's middle name was taken from a pharmacist in Birdsboro whose last name was Bruce.

Donald Eugene Leisey was born on September 23,1937, at 716 E. 2nd Street, Birdsboro, PA toward the end of the Great Depression. Don's middle name was taken from Eugene Shirk, a coach of Al Jr. at Birdsboro High School, and later a long time coach and athletic director at Albright College, and a former mayor of Reading, PA.

The Great Depression had a devastating impact on our family. From 1931-37, Dad worked on the "extra board" for the Reading Railroad, which meant he only worked when the railroad needed him. He had to work one day a month to keep his seniority. His brother, Bob and other friends from the railroad would call in sick one day each month so Dad could get in his required day of work. In order to support the family, Dad would work for farmers in the fields picking potatoes, tomatoes and helping with other farming needs for money and/or crops. Alvin, Jr., relates that he was making more money delivering papers and setting up pins in a bowling alley than Dad was making working in the fields. Al Jr. said that Dad cut down a large black oak tree, 10 feet in diameter, that was threatening to fall onto the house at 716 East Second St. in Birdsboro. As a reward for cutting down the tree, the landlord forgave the rent on the house for two years. The wood was chopped into logs for the stove by Al Jr. and Meb. The tree was estimated to be 368 years old and Al Jr. relates how ecstatic he and Meb were after they had finally completed cutting the wood.

In 1938, the family was forced to leave their rented house at 716 East Second St. in Birdsboro because they were many months behind on the rent. The family moved to Church Hill, near Honey Brook, PA. The house at Church Hill had no central plumbing (outside toilet), heating (fire place) or running water (spring house). Mother contracted rheumatoid arthritis and had to maneuver around the house with one leg on a chair. Al Jr. feels her arthritis was relieved because of the purity of the water from the spring-house at Church Hill. There were no school buses during that time and Al Jr. would have to walk to and from Honey Brook High School each day, which was about 4 miles away. Some days he got lucky and a milk truck would take him to school on its way to the creamery in Honey Brook. Meb and Bob attended a one-room school-house at the top of Church Hill. It is interesting to note that Dad, Mother and Meb as well as Uncle Amos and Aunt Stella are all buried in the St. Marks Episcopal Church's Cemetery overlooking the Church Hill property where we lived. After a few years, the family moved to a house in Supplee about two miles from Honey Brook. Again, the house did not have indoor plumbing or running water. The family moved to Honey Brook in 1942.

In 1941, Alvin Jr. graduated from Honey Brook High School and enrolled at Penn State University where he studied for a year. On December 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, WW II began and Alvin enlisted in the Marine Corp. where he was wounded on Engebi Island in the Eniwetok Atoll, Guadacanal, and other Marshall Islands. He was shot by a sniper and on another occasion, was blown out of a foxhole. Al Jr. was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries.

Meb joined the Navy shortly afterwards and was sent to the European campaign. He was on an LST during the Battle of Normandy at Omaha Beach. Meb would relate the loss of LSTs and devastation and death of military personnel happening all around his LST as it was taking equipment, supplies and personnel to the beach-front. Fortunately, Meb and the crew on his LST, performed their duties and escaped the area unscathed.

The family would look forward to receiving V-mail or censored mail (mail was read by officers and anything that might jeopardize the war effort, such as where the troops were located, was inked over so it couldn't be read) from Alvin Jr. and Meb. On Sunday evenings Mom, Dad, Bob and Don would huddle around the radio, listening to Gabriel Heater to get an update on the war and try to determine where in the world Al and Meb might be located.

The family moved to Broad Street, Honey Brook in 1942. The family was thrilled to find a place to rent that had central heating, running water and indoor plumbing. The downstairs had a bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen. The upstairs had three bedrooms and bathroom. All the rooms were very spacious in comparison to what the family had in previous houses. The house also had a full attic that was used for storage and a full cellar where our coal was stored and the furnace was located. It was always fun going to the cellar especially during hot, humid, summer days, because it was cool, but had a musty smell.

In addition there was a large barn that housed our pigs, a large chicken coup where we raised chickens and an acre of vegetable garden where Dad would raise string beans, sweet corn, peas, lima beans, red beets, cabbage, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. The "truck patch" was a real supplement to the family income. Not only did we consume most of the vegetables, we also sold vegetables throughout the community.

Brother Bob made a basketball court on the second story of the barn, that previously was used for storing grain and hanging tobacco, so Don could practice basketball with his friends during the cold and snowy winters.

Dad was a hard worker. After working for eight hours as a freight conductor on the railroad in Coatesville, Dad would come home and work the truck patch. He prepared the soil with hand tools after he hired someone to plow the field with a tractor. He worked the truck patch in the extremely hot, humid summers and would come into the house after he was finished with his clothes soaking from perspiration. Dad instilled his work ethic in his sons.

Mother boiled and sterilized the jars and lids for canning on a cast iron, cook stove. She would cook, prepare and place in jars, the vegetables grown in the truck patch and the fruits from the cherry and apple trees which were then stored in the cellar. She also made and bottled grape juice from the grape arbor. Mother worked over the hot cook stove during the hottest and most humid days of the summer. The food she canned lasted most of the winter, and was another way of reducing the family's overhead because we did not have to purchase those items at the store.  more...

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