Margaret Ann Prebis Rohe
Margaret, the fourth of ten children, was born at home in south Buffalo. Margaret tells a lot of stories about what it was like to grow up during the Depression. She would ask at the bakery for any bread they were not going to sell, and they would save it for her. She used to walk around picking up the coal on the railroad tracks to help heat the house. Going to school, everybody had the same clothes, because everybody was on the welfare; the shoes were ugly, so they used to scrape them on the sidewalk to try to wear them out. But she thought it only made the soles grow thicker.
She left school with an 8th grade diploma and went to work in Kresge's downtown at their food counter. She always paid her room and board to our mother which was $10.00 a week. And with the coming of World War II she went to work in the defense plants. She liked to have a good time; she didn't care if she lost her job because she could go down the street and get another. After the war, jobs tightened up for women and she couldn't get them so easily. She was out of work for a long period of time. During those years she lived between home and her friend Mary O'Rourke's. Margaret helped with the kids because Mary was a single mom who worked nights. Margaret married Eddie Rohe in 1957, after dating him for 14 years. She went out with him every Saturday night, after he would call her on Wednesday. She separated from her husband 6 months later, because she wanted them to live away from his father. She left her beautiful diamond rings behind, but took the car that was her father in-law's gift for her, since Eddie didn't drive. The only thing she regretted was that she didn't take the snow tires. She always said she would go back if he moved away from his father, which he never did.
She then started working at Canisius College, and then at a place that made crates for shipping. The guy didn't want to hire her, saying, 'It wasn't a job for women.' He said, 'Let me see you drive a nail.' She drove the nail hitting it twice into the wood. He said, 'You're hired; it has been a long time since I've seen someone let the hammer do the work.' She had learned this working during the war. She worked at that box company until the company left the area, and then she went to work in housekeeping at Mercy Hospital, from which she retired at 62.
Margaret liked being an aunt and liked to play with the kids. She always bought them noisy toys, like drum sets and their mothers wanted to kill her. She made a big thing of the holidays, sharing good cheer. Margaret took care of people. She took care of our father when he was dying; she took care of our mother after he died. She provided a home and took care of our Aunt Aggie as long as she was able. She and our sister Mary Eleanor took care of our sister Geraldine when she was dying of cancer. Margaret has always been known to her friends and her family as having a wry sense of humor. But the same people also note she has a little bit of crabbyness in her and is not the most patient person in the world. She is 5 foot tall with twinkling eyes and deep dimples. What I appreciate most about my sister Margaret, is that in spite of the fact that she was a good Catholic, she never turned her back on me as a gay person, and always welcomed my friends and lovers into her home. She made a big difference in my life by allowing me to keep my ties with my family.
Written by Bobbi Prebis with Liz Kennedy