Niagara Gazette

Columns

May 24, 2013

HAMILTON: Mona - that little old woman who could

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — But, as Matt’s job had left the city in the 1940s, so did a lot of other people’s jobs over the next 30 years. The smokestacks snuffed themselves out, one-by-one, like the candles in an ancient banquet hall and our city’s prospects darkened along with them.

Matt, a doting husband, died first. I had often seen him go out to that old, foundationless garage and wrestle the doors open; then entering the darkened place, he’d drive out in his huge, black Buick Electra 225 and then take his waiting wife to every place that she needed to go.

There was a time when Niagara Falls was much like Matt. We were once a paternalistic society, where powerful men, such as plant owners and managers, bankers, retail magnates in their chambers of commerce, and even those associated with less noble professions, were at the steering wheels of our lives, too. Times were once good, and not having to make any real decisions about our own destinies, we just went along for the ride.

However, when Matt died, Mona, with three adult children, did something that was totally unexpected.

Having been ferried by her husband to wherever it was that she had needed to go for all of her married life, there was no need for the then-70-year old woman to have learned to drive.

But, she did it anyway.

Mona Gwozdek passed away in February of this year. She was 89 years old. I will never forget her, nor should any of you who never even knew her. That’s because there is a lesson in what she did that we all need to learn; and that is that a 70-year-old woman, who worked a bar most of her life, decided to take the New York state written drivers test, and the determined woman passed it on her first try.

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