Clare Connor Kenny
In 1996, I asked the remaining children of Clare and Lee Kenny to write a bit of information they remembered about their parents. This is were most of this information came from.
There was talk that the eight children left of Lee and Clare Kenny would have to be split up, after Lee's death in 1936. Jack was old enough to be on his own.
Clare did raise all the children on her own after Lee's death. Besides feeding, housing, clothing and educating, she instilled many great values; she taught them to love each other, to have good moral values, she instilled a deep sense of responsibility into each child, to have honor and family pride, and to have ambition. Her son Jerry wrote:
"There are many things Mother drilled into me, which I have tried to follow all my life. Two such items were:
a. There is never an excuse for not being a gentleman
b. When you are required to make an important decision, all you can do is to base that decision on what you think is right at the time."
Clare maintained a good circle of friends that she and Dee had before his death, mostly consisting of top-notched professionals, lawyers, and doctors. She was a lovely hostess, marvelous cook and a great entertainer. Whenever she would have guests, whether it be one extra person, or was serving 20, she always presented everything perfectly. No corners were cut as far as preparation and how the table was set. She made certain that the children would always help prepare and that they knew table manners. Most of their parties ended up at the piano, where they would all gather and sing.
One thing I noticed from all the letters from Clare's children, they all would refer to her as Mother, and spelled with a capital M. I remember Grandmother very well. I made the mistake in calling her Grandma "once". She made it quite clear, that it is Grandmother.
Growing up as one of Clare's children, there were certain words that could never be used;
Kids (unless you were referring to goats
Shut Up !
Also when referring to your rear-end, it was OK to say "Bumostity".
Clare loved Crossword puzzles and would sit down with her children and teach them, along with that, she made certain that their grammar was always perfect.
Jerry mentioned something about his mother; "Mother taught me that there is no euphemism for DEATH. When one of my brothers died, she would telephone me and say no more that, 'Jerry, David 's dead'. I received four such telephone calls."
Her child, Rosanne had other memories of her and her father. She remember the music. She recalled how excited they all were when her father, Lee, (they called him "Dee") would bring home new phonograph records, and while sitting on his lap, listening to Grace Moore singing, and Clare playing "Poet & Peasant Overture" on the piano, with all the children striking pots and pans with spoons as they marched to the Anvil Chorus.
She recalled also how the games were always very competitive. The girls were expected to keep up with the boys, in Pump-Pump Polo way, touch football, and other games.
In 1935, The Kennys moved to their big house at 5016 California St., in Omaha. It had 10 room, 3 1/2 baths, three stories and a basement and a sub basement, plus secret passages. Just eight months after moving into this new big house, Lee had died of a heart attack.
Clare tried to sell the big house, but there were no buyers.
If Dee would have lived, the family would have no doubt, been well off, since Dee was an upcoming attorney, but as it was, they had to take in paying guests to keep afloat. Clare was careful to only take in "classy" guests. One of these guests was Russell O'Hara, who ended up asking for Clare's daughter, Roseanne's hand in marriage. They kept adding more and more guests, till they had 10 "paid guests" as Clare would called them. Even as the children got jobs outside the home, they would contribute most or all their paycheck to Clare. But as Moo said, this was the main reason we were such a close family.
Because they took in paying guests, the children would sleep on the third floor. With these guests, there were always plenty of chores for all. Clare was quite the taskmaster. The boys took care of the yard, (the house was situated in the middle of three city lots) and the girls, (Moo and Rosanne) worked in the house, Moo as upstairs maid, Rosanne as scullery maid.
Clare also invested in a small Beauty Salon on 50th St, around the corner, just south of Cass St., in Omaha. Moo and Rosanne also helped out there, cleaning.
Moo recalled that Clare had a deep romantic tie to her father. Moo would always notice that when they would pass each other, one or the other would squeeze or give a little pinch to the others Bomostity. (rear-end). She noticed much love while growing up.
Clare's son Philip recalled that Clare was a tough disciplinarian. If the children misbehaved, they would get a lashing.
She finally sold the house once all the children had grown and the last one, Lee, had gone into the service. She moved to an Apartment on 48th St. For a while, she moved to Germany to join her son Lee and his wife, Bonnie. They had just had their first child, Jeffrey, and Clare moved there to help out. According to Bonnie, Clare was very popular with the German families. They invited her to everything. She took German lessons and was very popular with the local German officials who would attend various functions together. While with the family in Germany, they visited France, Holland, Italy and many other places within Germany.
In Clare's declining years, she stayed with her daughter, Moo, in Littleton, Colorado. On September, 23, 1974, Clare passed away, was flown to Omaha, NE and was buried with her husband, Lee, at the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, on 48th and Leavenworth.