|On April 24, 1981, 4 days after the death of Daisy Kirkwood Riddell, Gil and his wife Venetia Riddell sat down with David H. Riddell (then 91) at his home at 42 E. Auburn, Ecorse MI, and talked to him about family history. Gil Riddell, Jr., has a terrific record of that discussion, written in his mother's hand. Following is a slightly abridged version of Venetia's notes, mostly presented as originally drafted by her, in the "voice" of David Riddell: |
"I remember the last time I saw my maternal grandfather [David McWilliams]. I was at the Glen Masonic Lodge. He was 96 years old, and looked great. He was a big man, over 6' tall. He laughed a lot - a good looking man.
He was a fisherman and owned a fleet of boats. He and his two sons , big men, did salvage work. They were deep sea divers. Dolhadie [Donaghadee ?] near Bangor. Vacationers paid him a shilling an hour for a ride in a boat.
I didn't like my paternal grandfather, William Riddell. I remember he took me to a funeral and told me to say rightly "very well thank you" when asked how I was. I wore knickerbockers.
I remember my father. He was an insurance salesman for the Prudential Insurance Co for 25 years. He was, also, a caretaker of The Glen Legoniel and he lived on the grounds. (The Insurance Co. home)
My mother's maiden name was Margaret McWilliams. She was a wee small woman 4' 11". She was sick one week ailing and died sitting on my brother Johnny's knee. Johnny read to her every night. [The record of Margaret's marriage to William is signed by her with "her mark."]
My brother William was the oldest. Two children died. I was born next then Edith, John and Tom (Gil's father).
Edith did not come to the U.S. She married, lived on the hill, had no family.
John came to the U.S., worked in New York and Cleveland. He visited home 3 times. He returned to Ireland.
Willie came to the U.S., age 17. He returned home 4 years later. Mother sent money to the Salvation Army in the U.S. for him to come home. He wore a big coat home. Father would not let him wear American clothes and had two suits made to order.
Willie liked a pint. Father was death against it. He would smell Willie's breath. I would change places with him so that father would smell my breath.
Willie played soccer for The Amsterdam Limited.
Father was always in the house. He put me out of the house the first time when I was 14. I went to work at Sarol [?] Port Rush, spinning mill as an apprentice.
I faced up to him. It rained all night when I was put out. I went to a friend's home. Father sent Edith for me. Edith told him I was not coming.
We fought every Saturday night. I fought for everybody. When he punished me I did not cry. Willie cried softly.
Tom was the youngest. He did what he liked. Mother covered up for him.
One night when Tom was 13 years old, father wouldn't let him go out. His chums broke into the chapel. They served 5 years in jail. Four guys, two came out tailors.
Our name was always spelled Riddell in the U.S. It was called Ridell [Riddle ?] in the old country.
I came to the U.S. through Canada, St Lawrence Port, when I was 34 in 1923. I stayed in Canada with [wife] Sarah's sister. I worked 3 years at a woolen mill. I didn't like Canada. I was offered 25 cents an hour as a tool and Dye worker at Fords. Before that I was a machine builder at Mackies Foundry. I was all over putting machines up for them. At Rounders Foundry I put up 36 machines.
Sarah's father, McGee [Magee], died when Sarah was 5 years old. He left 10 children. He laid rail from the age of 16. Her mother was a midwife.
They met when McGee returned to Ireland. He saw Sarah's mother, threw a stone at her and said "hello red."
Tom (Gil's Dad) wrote to me and said "Stay where you are - I am coming to Ford's." He came in 1927. It was during the Depression. Tom was a good tradesman -Tool & Dye. Tom came to our house in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He took the ferry to Fords Detroit.
Tom did not know his way around, and asked to stay with us. We had 4 kids and 3 bedrooms. We put all the children in one bedroom and gave Tom the bedroom.
Two years later Daisy came and Sarah helped Daisy find a house in Windsor. We were close to Daisy who made a lot of friends.
Our Mother was a good woman. Tom was brought up a Methodist. Sarah was a Methodist. We went to grammer school up on the hill - one big room. St Mark's Weslyan Methodist.
Tom became extreme in religion after he and Daisy joined the Assembly of God Church. We grew apart as families.
My Mother's people were born on a farm - way back. I don't know where. They did not have doctors.
My Mother would tell us a funny story. The High Chief in County Antrim was walking along drunk, fell into a bog and lost a leg.
An old aunt on my mother's side, over 100 years old, would tell us she saw a Banshee.
Grandfather Riddell married twice. Married a younger woman 7 month's after grandmother's death. [I think this is a reference to David Riddell's father, William, who is Gil Riddell's grandfather. It is known that William married Charlotte Wright shortly after the death of Margaret]
[Gil Riddell, Jr., has indicated that the balance of this material is information taken from the recollections of Daisy Kirkwood Riddell]
Gil's grandfather on the Kirkwood side (maternal g.f.) was the head of the Masonic Black & Blue. He was a tall man - nice looking. Gil's maternal grandmother was nice looking too. She talked with a Scotish burr. She was a short busy woman. She worked in the store. She was smart. Sarah would be sent to the Kirkwood's store for a pint of whiskey when anyone was ill.
Gil's grandfather was a contractor owned a pub and a block of houses.
They were both Scots.
Of their children Teenie and Andy were the only ones born in Ireland. Jimmy was a nice fellow. Andy had black hair - a clever guy great on electronics.
One of the boys played international soccer for Ireland - a left back he wore gold and silver medals.
Teenie took piano lessons a couple of times a week. Daisy went on the school to become a secretary.
Bert came to the U.S. in 1923. He played soccer on the West Coast."
Thank you, Gil, for this contribution. It is priceless.