Driving through Eastern Pennsylvania yesterday I came within 40 miles of my paternal grandfather’s place of birth and early childhood, The town he came from is Slatington, PA.
I was at Slatington once years ago and I took the time to search out some distant cousins who are related on my grandfather’s mother’s side. They are Pennsylvania Dutch (German-American).
My grandfather, Miles F. Costello, was born in 1888. He attended school through third grade, then quit school to go to work in the slate quarry that was the town’s life blood, in order to help support the family. He had been an “A” student.
His father was cruel- so cruel that my father could not recall having been told his first name. Dad did recall his father saying that after a day’s work in the quarry his job was to carry a bucket of beer home for great-(or not-so-great) granddad; and that if he spilled any, he would get cuffed, hard.
Miles Costello left home at age 12. He never said much to my father about what he did, or where he went, after that. My father did learn that at age 15, my grandfather was taken in and cared for by an African-American woman in St. Louis, MO. Also, that Miles F. Costello served four years in the U.S. Navy prior to WW1, then enlisted in the Army when the U.S. entered that war, because it was the best job he could find. He fought in the infantry in France.
My grandfather married Hilda Knoll of Milwaukee, WI. They moved to Rochester, MN, where he supported his wife, two daughters and my father-to-be working as a self-employed cement- and brick mason. Fifteen years ago I saw the nice little home he built in 1920 with his own hands.
At age 14, my dad went to work for him carrying hod (look it up). That’s why he was so strong and such a great athlete.
My grandparents moved to the San Diego area during WW2 for work. My grandmother worked in San Diego as a maid.
I recall visiting them once when I was about age 10, 1959 or so. We took a ride and she made my grandfather take us past a home she had just been hired to clean. It was the home of a lawyer and his family. Grandma Costello was so proud to have been hired to clean the home of a lawyer.
Starting in 1976 when I graduated from law school she acted as if I were no longer little Donnie. I felt sad about that.
My grandfather Miles was gentle and kind. Comparing how he was with how he had been fathered became one of my early realizations that individual behavior is a matter of choice.
These thoughts brought tears of appreciation when recently driving through Rochester, and yesterday when I was near Slatington.
On Tuesday, Graeme King asked whether I was related to the famous Costello rowing family of Philadelphia. Paul Costello, for example, was cousin of John B. Kelly, Sr., and himself a triple Olympic champion.
I told Graeme I doubted it. Although you never know, because Paul and Miles were both Pennsylvanians.
Below, Miles, Howard and Don Costello in my senior year of high school. (You’ll need to squint.)