Married Life

Making us through her adult years, Cathy describes her courtship and marriage with George; introduces us to her in-laws and Quassy; and remembers the joy of teaching.

Meeting George


  • My husband’s family lived in Waterbury. They were a wonderful family, and my mother always revered them. His father used to come to the doctor in New Haven, and he would stop at my parent’s house, and my mother would cook for him. Sometimes he would bring his younger son, George, and he would play with my sister. He hoped that they would get married. Then, he died very suddenly. That was a trauma. My mother and father went to the funeral. And Mrs. Frantzis, my husband’s mother, lost it. She didn’t expect it. He was young. He was in his 40’s. She didn’t speak English. She wasn’t as outgoing as my mother. My mother sort of embraced her and said, “Look, you have a daughter, and this daughter is crying. She lost her father, and she is really losing her mother as well. Let me take her for a week because I have a daughter her age.” So, Cathy (her name is also Cathy) came to be with us for a week, and we had a very nice time. Then the following year, I think I was 15 then, Mrs. Frantzis asked mother if I could go spend a week with Cathy. My husband’s family owns an amusement park. My mother let me go – which surprised me. I kept hearing about George, her older brother, but he was in the Navy, and he was pinned to another woman. When you are 16 and he is 21, you don’t even think that way. But then I met him. He was blond, very attractive, and very different than any Greek man I had met. I never thought I would marry a Greek man. I really didn’t like them. Some I did. They just had some edge to them, but my husband, George, didn’t. He was a football player. He was a swimmer. He was an intellect. He really loved history. He was very kind to me. I would tell him about my mother and that she wouldn’t let me out, and he was very sympathetic. He knew that my mother loved him because he was a gentleman. He said to my mother, “I go to school here, why don’t you let me take her with me?” And she said yes, which surprised me.


  • He went to school at Wesleyan. So, he took me, and he introduced me to his fraternity brothers. He was very kind, and his brothers all liked me. Then he kept asking me. And then he noticed that his friends were coming after me. I looked older than my age too – I was tall. And we sort of hit it off. We had a lot of fun together. He was my source in some ways. He got me out. But he was also fun. We became close, and then we became very close. But then he knew that I couldn’t date, and he didn’t think that I should be going for him because he was the only man. When I went to college (at Wheelock), my mother called the school and said that they’re not allowed to let me out. He said to me, “This is not right. Tell them that you are going out with me, but I want you to go out with other men.” That was the kind of man he was. And I did, but then I realized what I had so, we got married when I was 20.


  • He went back to Wesleyan and got his Master’s in Education. See, he got into Harvard, but his father died, and he wanted to be close to his mother because he knew she needed him. That’s the kind of man he was. So, he went to Wesleyan and became a professor which he loved doing. He was a great historian. Scholarly. I have all his books. I mean, my house is filled with books and his portfolio with his notes. He did some practice teaching there (at Wesleyan), but taught at the branches of University of Connecticut because he had to stay home. He ran the park in the summer and taught in the winter. We wanted to put him on “What’s My Line” because there was such a dichotomy. But he was good. That’s what he was too– fun, but brilliant. But he never threw it at you. It was just there.


  • I’d have these dinners for his professors. There was this one professor, his best friend up there at Wesleyan. I loved him. But he is retired now. They have a farm in Rhode Island, and I go visit them when I go see my grandchildren. They came to see me last year and it was very touching because she was one of the most important influences in my life because I am dating George. They are already married, and she is a great cook. She just does these things in such grace, and she was beautiful. I just loved her. I still love her. She showed me a grace and a love for her husband. And the love that - they had a wonderful marriage. My mother wasn’t affectionate. My father was. They laughed a lot together and they talked. I saw a romance in them, and I liked the romance. My husband was romantic. He would always bring me flowers or do nice things. We went to Greece 22 times. But we did that. We went all over. We went to Italy. We went to France, Morocco, (Portugal, Spain).


  • Once in a while I will go to church. I’ve gone to church with my niece, but I don’t really feel anything. I feel the tradition. My husband went every Sunday, and he prayed at night - just in the bed before he fell asleep - which I found very endearing but I just couldn’t do it.


  • George had lived his life. I think he died the way he wanted to and I revered that. I knew it was hard for all of us, but it was perfect for him. But I almost knew that was going to happen because he didn’t take care of himself. He was deteriorating. I could feel it. I could feel him slipping away from me. He wasn’t taking care of himself. I really felt like he was going to die. His father died much younger. But when we went on vacation together, I felt he was rejuvenated. He said to me, “I’m the happiest I have ever been.” And he died the next day. So that was trauma. He was a very popular man. He was on the school board. President of the school board for many years. He changed the school. He honored the gifted, and he also protected the challenged. He was selectman of our town. Of course, everybody worked at the amusement park - all the young people - so there were thousands of people at his service. I had to stand there and greet them all. It was an amazing thing. But it was trauma. I mean to be coming home at 5:00 and not having him come. There are a lot of things I had to go through.

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“To my Darling Kathy whom I Love and Respect so very deeply and sincerely. George”


Quassy


  • His (my husband’s) father was a waiter. He came here, and he opened a place making candy. It was a chocolate shop in Waterbury. They made wonderful taffies and chocolate-covered cherries. All kinds of candy. It was on the main street in Waterbury, in the 30s and 40s. Then one of the gentlemen that he was very close to was a headwaiter at one of the finest hotels in Waterbury, called the Elton Hotel. He always wore a black tie. A very elegant man. He overheard that Quassy was going to be for sale. Now, Quassy is the end of the trolley line. There’s this beautiful lake – spring fed, magnificent. They heard it was for sale, and he asked these other two men to get money and buy it. This was in the 20s. So, they bought it. See, they would work in the winter in Waterbury and then in the summer, they were concessionaires and then they bought it. When George’s father died, George took over and he really turned it around. He would get companies to come. A lot of industry was around there, and they would have their banquets there. And then, schools would start coming. He did a lot. Now, I wish you could see the way it is now. Flowers all over the place.


  • My mother-in-law came there (Quassy) and lived there because she didn’t have a house when she first came. She told me she used to drink the water. The water at our lake is spring fed. There were rooms upstairs. That’s where I stayed when first she invited me. She had a house in Waterbury, but she lived at the park in the summer to be with her husband and to help. They called me the Quassy queen. Because there’s a boat that says the Quassy queen.


  • My mother-in-law sang too at parties. She would sing these wonderful Greek songs. George used to bring his fraternity brothers home, and my mother-in-law would have these wonderful dinners and she was very formal - with the silver and the crystal. Then she would sing for them. “Papa manoli….” And they would just love her. She had this flair. In fact, I think I was more like my mother-in-law than my mother. My mother-in-law used to stick up for me when my mother said, “Don’t buy this. Don’t do that.” My mother-in-law would say, “Oh Irene, let her do that. She’s young. Now’s the time. Now’s the time.” So, I really identified with her, and we were close.

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Hand-carved carousel animal at Quassy

Teaching


  • I started a nursery school in Middlebury after my children were in school. Georgie was 4, and the Episcopal Church wanted to start a school and, because I went to Wheelock, and that’s really the finest for elementary school education. One of the women on the board there knew about it, and liked me and asked me if I would do a school. I gave her a program that I would like to do, and she loved it. So, we started this school for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. Two different days. I applied all my learnings on these children. It was a very successful school. I mean, there was a waiting list. People from Yale heard about it and wanted to come up. I did great things with the children. I didn’t believe in teaching them. I believed in experiencing with them. We’d have things set up. Everything was a joy. I used a lot of art and music. In fact, one of the things I did that was so successful - I would fill a bucket up with paint and then I would put on Mozart and have them dance with their feet with the paints. Then I would put on “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” and put that music on real loud and have them paint to that with their feet. Blindfolded. Then, I would have them look at the paints and tell me which composer it was. They never missed. They could tell by the rhythm of the movement what the composer was. They were always there. They got it. I could never do that now because I always held them and hugged them and kissed them all over the place. I was going to give up but then this other school, this prestigious school - it’s just called Chase now – It was St. Margaret McTernan, wanted me to come, and they seduced me. It’s in Waterbury, and I went there for two years.


  • But see, my husband started traveling, and he would travel with my best friend’s husband. I thought it’s time for me to be with him and do these things. And we did. We traveled all over the world. That was more important to me.


  • I have people stopping their cars on the street getting out, running over, kissing me saying, “Mrs. Frantzis, you were the best teacher I ever had. Isn’t that amazing how that stays with them? I was at a restaurant with this Jungian therapist, and she and I are talking. The place is closing, and I see this man staring at me with his wife. And he comes over to me and his wife said, “He does nothing but talk about you all the time.” He said, “Remember me, Mrs. Frantzis? Do you know who I am? I have my blanket and I am going into my corner to take my nap.” Then, of course, I recognized him immediately. That’s what holds you. Isn’t that amazing. That’s what I remember about my dad. He didn’t say much. He was not around much. He worked very hard. He had his restaurant. He would take night shifts. But when I saw him, he was there. I felt him.

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Teaching at St. George’s, Middlebury CT


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