Evelyn Kastner Slaughter
Evelyn Kastner Slaughter was born Mildred Kastner in 1910 in Rochester, New York, but was known to her friends and family as Evelyn. She grew up a very German community. Her paternal grandfather, Conrad Kastner, emigrated from Baden-Wurttemberg in 1883. He was probably sent over by his family to marry Walburga Foery, his brother's widow, who was left with five children. When he married Walburga Foery, he joined the Foery family firm, which was listed as Foery & Kastner, green grocers, in 1890. Conrad and Francesca had five children. My mother's father, George was third, born in 1886. Mother's maternal great grand parents were Thomas and Louisa Brien, who also emigrated from Baden-Wurttemberg, and had five children, one of whom was Joseph, a locksmith, who would marry Mary Gleichauf, our great grandmother. On the distaff side were Albert and Maria Gleichauf who emigrated from Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria, respectively. Albert worked in a foundry in Rochester. They had seven children, one of whom was Mary, born in 1866. She worked at 'tayloring'when she was fourteen. Joseph Brien and Mary Gleichauf married and had five children, one of whom was Laura, our grandmother, mother's mother, born in 1887. Many Kastners and Gleichaufs lived and worked near each other in Rochester. They were pump makers, maltsters, planers, melters, stone weighers, and grocers. The census lists the elder Kastners' and the Gleichaufs' 'mother tongue' as German. Mother told us that her grandparents spoke German and that her mother and father understood it well and spoke it a bit, but Mother knew only a little. My grandparents were conservative Catholics and very attached to their churches, participating in organizations such as the Holy Redeemer Sick Benefits Association, St. Peter's Benevolent Society, and the Rosary Society of Holy Rosary.
George Kastner married Laura Brien in 1909. He was 23 and she was 22. They had four girls, Adelaide, Evelyn, Marion and Eleanor. George had a variety of employment. The Rochester City Directory lists him as having a postal card business in 1910 and the 1920 census gives his employment as wholesale grocer, perhaps working for the family firm. Mother told us he worked for Eastman Kodak for a time, and that in the 1920s he went to Hollywood to write film scripts, apparently unsuccessfully because he eventually returned to Rochester. The family didn't have a lot of money, but mother and her sisters seemed to have a lot of fun. We know they roller skated, ice skated and skied,
rode bikes and swam, because mother taught us to do all those things. I remember that Mother told us they often went to the theater when plays previewed in Rochester before opening in New York, the four sisters sitting in the cheap seats in the balcony and enjoying every moment of the performance.
Mother went to Nazareth College in Rochester for a time, where she probably took a business course. In 1930 the census says she was working in a jewelry shop, and her sister Adelaide was a bookkeeper. The Great Depression had just begun, and the girls were probably lucky to have jobs. Marion and Eleanor were still in school.
The family's fortune took a turn for the better when Mother's sister Adelaide met and married a wealthy Detroit businessman. She moved to Detroit, and the rest of the family followed. My grandfather went to work for his son-in-law's firm. Adelaide lived in Gross Pointe and shared her social life with her sisters. I remember sitting in Ad's sun porch when I was in my twenties watching movies of the sisters playing tennis, sailing and going to parties. They were very glamorous and always surrounded by attentive men. Mother worked as an office manager, and she dated the Lone Ranger, or rather the voice of the Lone Ranger, since those were the days of radio.
Our father, Wayne Benjamin Slaughter, a physician, met Mother when he was completing a residency at in Detroit, with Dr. Straith. He was working with two other residents, supervised by Straith, and the three of them became the first board certified plastic surgeons in the United States. He met my mother and they courted. My father moved to Chicago where he set up his practice and mother followed him. They were married December 26, 1942 in Chicago. Mother told us that Dad had a difficult year or two when he started and for a short time she worked again as an office manager. But after Wayne Jr was born in 1944 she never worked, and always told us she never regretted it. Wayne was followed by Sheila in 1945 and Sharon in 1949.
Mother's two younger sisters, Marion and Eleanor, moved to the Chicago area, and when we were children the sisters got together one or two weekends a month. The sisters were very close, their own best friends. Adelaide joined them when she could, and they went to Detroit several times a year. We had picnics and barbeques in the summer and long dinners in winter, shared with a bunch of cousins who were roughly the same ages we were.
Mother was always very supportive and loving, and thought everything the three of us did was wonderful. When we were in high school she always waited up for us, even if dawn was breaking. She had to know we were safe. She assumed all of us would go to college. She wanted us to do well, marry and have children, but never stood in the way of the careers we chose. In her later years, she doted on her grandchildren and spent more and more time with her sistersÌ_all four of them and their remaining spouses would spend at least a month together every summer. When Dad retired, Mom and Dad moved to Boise Idaho, where Wayne lived. Our father died in 1978 from a heart attack. After many years of marriage, it was very difficult for mother. But one of her most endearing traits was that she always looked for the sunny side of life. Even though she would tell us she missed our father so much, she still looked for that sunny side and managed a smile and tried to make a new life. She found new friends, and spent more time with her sisters, and seemed to be re-making her life. But three years after Dad died, Mom was killed by a car when she was out for her daily walk with a neighbor and friend. All of us think mother would have lived another decade or more, had it not been for the car accident, and that she would still have been smiling at her grandchildren and us.