Making time for family
As we know, Pop started work at the General Motors factory when he was 16 years old. All of his working life, until the time he retired, he always worked the afternoon/evening shift at the “plant,” completing nearly 40 years working for Chevrolet. As a result of this schedule, Pop wasn’t home in the afternoon and evenings when his daughters were there and didn’t have a lot of time to spend with them except on weekends or vacations. In order to make the most of possible family time, Gram fixed the big meal of the day at noon, and Joyce, Janet and Judy all came home from school at lunch time to eat with the family. Even when the girls reached high school age they continued to come home for a family meal.
As the girls got older, some evenings they would still be awake when Pop returned from work. The ping pong table in the basement was a real draw for many of the high school crowd, and it wasn’t unusual to have several young men waiting for a chance to beat Mr. Pratt in a game of ping pong. Pop and his sister, Nonie, played a lot of ping pong together, and even won some city tournaments. As Pop’s reputation as a winning ping pong player got around, several of the high school boys were anxious to challenge him for a win. So even though he was no doubt exhausted from a long shift at the factory, Pop usually accepted the challenge and nearly always beat the boys!
Michigan winters offered other family activities. While living on Vincent Avenue, Pop built a big and very heavy sled that they called a bobsled. Sitting up high on big runners with a steering device made from pipes, 5 or 6 kids could ride the sled together. Their house was at the top of the hill, and the Pratt girls and their friends spent a lot of snowy days racing down the hill on that big sled. Unfortunately, the sled was so big and so heavy that the kids who rode it down weren’t strong enough to pull it back up and had to have a parent help them get it back to the top for another run.
Also during the winter, city officials flooded a nearby park and turned it into an ice rink. The Pratt girls loved meeting their friends at the rink on winter evenings. Their house was close enough to the rink, that Gram could turn the porch light on as a signal to her daughters that it was time get home. When they saw the porch light, the girls often would gather a group of friends and bring them home for hot chocolate and ping pong. Gram was always willing to have a big pot of hot chocolate ready for the chilly skaters, and the kids usually stayed until Gram insisted that the evening was over!“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both
useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the
worth of time by employing it well.
Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets,
and life will become a beautiful success.”
-Louisa May Alcott