*Editor's note: This narrative was written by Frances Wood Haas mostly in 1973.
Benjamin Joseph Wood
Ben was one of those rare children - gifted - seemingly born under a lucky star. He was a healthy, happy baby and he was born at home [Frances was about to be 12] as so many babies were those days. Only one of Mother's children was born in a hospital and that was the last one, Paul. I remember crouching on the third floor stairs. Jack was with me and we were both terrified - and thrilled. We heard the groans coming from Mother's bed-room and then the lusty cry of a baby! Even Jack, as young as he was, felt the excitement.
Ben grew up - bright, merry, lovable. He was a charmer with the kids and and the grown-ups. He would rather play baseball than eat. He would stuff himself on crackers and milk and candy and ask for nothing more. He made good marks in school. Everything came easily to him where Jack had to work hard for his good grades.
We had maids then always because Mother couldn't do much physical work. On Tuesday afternoons we all pitched in because it was "maids day off." Jack was a pretty good help and young Paul, too but Ben was a holy terror - careless and sloppy. Finally he was given "garbage detail" and even spilled that. But he had so many other good qualities that we just laughed at his mistakes.
I remember Ben had three jobs at once when he was in high school. I forget what two of them were but one was ushering at Carnegie Music Hall for the concerts. He was always a ball of fire. He spent six years at the University of Pittsburgh - 2 pre-med, 4 in medical school. Then he interned at Mercy Hospital for a year - received a fellowship at Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minn. There he met Vonnie, his wife. When he brought her home to visit before their marriage he said she was from Montana (true) and that he got her right off the reservation (Ho-ho). I remember I thought she was the prettiest and nicest girl I had ever seen.
Years before, Ben had a crush on Mary Wymard, a doctors daughter and she had one on with him as well - one she never really got over. Then he was enamored with a languid blond named Marjorie. (I'm glad he didn't marry her.) Vonny turned out to be the perfect wife for Ben . She has been a perfect companion, always ready to go with him on his many trips which is the right way to be.
They've had five boys,all a credit to them .Two are doctors, one (Ben) specializing in nose and throat in St. Louis and Mike, like his father, received a fellowship to Mayo. He is married and has two sons himself. John is a great guy - very likeable and is at the U. of Virginia in Medical School. Artie and Dave are still in school yet but they too are great boys. *
Ben was the only one of the boys to go to war(WWII). Jack's health wouldn't allow him - he was turned down. Ben had another fellowship in Pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic and it was while there, that he was drafted. He went to North Africa with the Medical Corp and later was in Italy at Mount Casino.
Vonny had Ben and Mike (a baby) when he had to leave her to go abroad. That must have been very agonizing for both Ben and Vonnie. By this time Mary Frances ( Bern's and mine) was born. Bernie (Gerry) was born while Ben was still away. We were all so worried when we knew Ben was on the high seas. They had to travel in a black-out because of the U boats of Germany were sinking everything in sight. It was a great relief to learn Ben's troop ship had landed safely.
Paul was married at this time and I remember the wedding so well. Vonny was with us. Later she went to her mother's in Spokane, Washington. Paul and Mary's wedding was a happy one, but Vonnie didn't enjoy it so much. She was too concerned with Ben's safety.
But the war ended and Ben came home and picked up the pieces of his life. He had a hard time deciding whether to be a "big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond." Finally at my cousin Paul's (Uncle John's son) funeral, he learned from Marion Wood Meredith that the town of Sharon where she lived was badly in need of a pediatrician. So Ben investigated, liked it and settled there. He has been most successful - as he is in anything he undertakes.
*Now he is the examining doctor for an insurance company, has his practice and is taking allergy courses all the time. Ben and Vonnie have taken me to dinner several times and we had all visited them in the summer. I am proud of Ben but one thing bothers me. He stated that he doesn't think we will meet again in the hereafter. He doesn't think he believes in heaven. If I didn't believe there was a better life than this one or that I would never see my loved ones again, I think I would just pull the covers over my head and vegetate until the end comes. The only way I can go on is to believe Bern and I will be together in some happier place where there is no death or tears or heartbreak and I hope and believe that my father and mother are there now. A love as great as their's has to live beyond the grave.
Well, Ben is still here - and will be for many years I hope - so
perhaps he will change his mind.