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Funny Family Stories

THE MAGRANN PIANO STORY (From Kip Deighan, son of Veronica Magrann)

The year was 1974, my wife and I moved from Philadelphia to Denver.  We had a neat cabin in the middle of nowhere and being somewhat newly weds,
had little or no furniture.  So I saw an ad in the paper that I woman was marrying an Air Force captain, moving to Hawaii and wanted to sell her piano.  
I rang her up, made a deal and drove to her place to pick up the piano.  Yipes, it was an inverted baby grand, not just an ordinary upright.  
So, I had to go back up the mountain pass, borrow a truck from a neighbor, go back down to the Colorado Springs and went to the lady's house, loaded up the truck
(grunt) and I got the monster up the mountain pass and placed inside our cabin.  
Later that night I decided to play some classical music and discovered that one could open the top and the back of the piano for a deeper, richer sound.  When I opened the 
back I got the shock of my life. Inside was the original shipping label from the manufacturer, Baldwin Piano and Organ in Cincinnati, OH to Margret Magrann 
in Phila in 1909. Talk about what goes around comes around.  
So, that's the Magrann piano story.

PEARLY WHITES (From Tracey Magrann)

My Dad used to have crooked yellow teeth (runs in the family!).  He always wanted the nice, straight white ones which he sports today, and here’s how he got them:  First, he was in a car accident, where his chin hit the steering wheel and knocked out the bottom row.  Then, during a family/friends party in Iran, he jumped off the balcony into the swimming pool (we didn’t have a diving board high enough to suit him).  While he was in mid-air, a girl swam out under him from the shallow end, and to miss her, he had to land in the shallow end of the pool.  The dentist said he could make his new teeth yellow like the old ones, but he said, “Are you kidding?  I’ve wanted white teeth my whole life!”  And that’s how he got his nice set of pearly whites!  (The rest of us just get braces and laser whitening)


THE SECRET CELLAR (From Kip Deighan)

Arthur Magrann, Sr. used to live in a house that George Washington stayed at a lot; very near where Washington crossed the Delaware.  It had a secret cellar to allow soldiers to escape down to the river when the Brits came snooping around.  They sealed it off cause they didn't want their grandkids going down there when they were little.  


SNOWBALLS (From Thomas Joseph Magrann II (II)

When we were kids, my older sister had a group of boys that she hung out with that were older than my group of friends. One day during the winter, when we knew they would come knocking at the door for her after school, we brought a bucket of snowballs into the house and when we heard them on the porch, we opened the door and pelted them from the porch with all the snowballs.  They ran away, but came back with their own snowballs, and we had run out!  So we hid in the house and decided to get a bucket of water to throw on them when we heard them on the porch.  We got it ready, and hearing the scuffle on the other side of the door, I opened it while my brother John tossed the bucket of water all over.....our father!  He was standing there, soaking wet and freezing, holding grocery bags from the store.  He gave us such a look!  Without saying a thing, he went upstairs to change.  We somehow managed to vanish and made ourselves scarce, afraid he was going to wring our necks.  The next few hours dragged into days as we waited for our punishment, but he never said one word about it for the rest of his life.


OUR TRIP TO DEZIN SKI RESORT (By Mary Jane Magrann 1977)

Tom and I left Tehran 9:15 a.m. Friday with sunny, warm skies, arrived Dezin Hotel 2 hrs, 45 mins later. The ride up the mountain was just beautiful, with the sun shinning on. the mountain tops and dipping down to the mountain road, seeing all the everyday sights of women walking with tea pot and cups on a tray on their heads, donkey caravans, a jube dog walking along the road with her 4 puppies, etc.

We checked in at Dezin Hotel, situated at the foot of the mountain, being Friday it was just crowded with European and Iranian people visiting for a day at the ski resort.  After the Porter took our belongings, he showed us to our room, which had a view of the would-be skiers coming down the slopes. We were leaving the room to go down to lunch when we discovered the door to the room wouldn’t lock, so Tom went down to the desk and explained.  They sent the porter up again and gave us another room down the hall.  The porter transferred our belongings to the new room but didn’t have the key, so we went to lunch.  While we were eating, the porter come with the key, but it wasn’t for the room we had.  Tom said, “Do you think he made a mistake with the key or did they put us in a third room?”

When we finished lunch and were heading for the elevator, the porter came toward us and motioned for us to follow him.  When we got off the elevator we were in a third room, same view but different floor.  We never could figure out why they changed us, since there were only three rooms occupied in the entire Hotel.  Once we got the room settled we took a ride up to the top of the mountain on the Gondola (5O Rials) walked around the lightly covered snow grounds, stopped in the lodge for a cup of coffee and took the return ride back.  We found we were exhausted due to the high altitude, so we took a nap.  When we came down to the lobby later, most of the visitors had gone home, so we decided to go into the bar and have a drink.  However, no one was in there, including a bartender!  So we went in and sat in the lounge and had a vodka, waiting for the dinner hour at 7:30 since there was nothing else to do — no TV, radio, magazine/paper stand.  After dinner they turned the TV on, but it was in Farsi, so we went to bed and listened to our tape recorder.

The next morning at 8 am we looked out the window and it was snowing like mad; we went down to breakfast and then checked out.  The car was covered with snow.  We wiped the windows clean and got into the car to get on our way, but the car wouldn’t start.  The porter came over with another man and they decided to give us a push down the mountain.  After several tries, the car still wouldn’t start.  They went to get a mechanic who tried different things, but it still wouldn’t start, so they had the mechanic get into the car and Tom helped the other men push us down the mountain.  After a few tries and a mile or so down the slippery road, it started. Then the mechanic made one long sweep and turned the car around; I was scared to death as there was no barrier on the edge of the road!  We drove back up to the Hotel, picking up Tom and the other men pushing. Tom gave them a tip for helping him and one other man wanted a lift down to the next town. We drove for about 5 miles, and the man thanked us as he got out at his destination. While stopped, Tom got out to wipe off the windshield (since the wipers were not working), and by this time the rain and snow were really coming down heavily.  While he was doing this, another old man jumped in the back of the car and wanted to go to the next town, down the mountain road.

As we were approaching the town, I said "Now as soon as he gets out, get going fast or we will have someone else in the back seat!". The man offered us 2O Rials for his ride, but we said no and sped off, while 3 women with babies, dressed in their chadoras were approaching the car.  When we came to the next town, a group of men were flagging us down and hollering something in Farsi.  I said, "More hitchhikers, keep going, we can’t get all that gang in the car!"  Then we passed a man who also waved us down, but we kept going in the rain, with bad windshield wipers, only one turn signal, and a brake light out.  All of a sudden, I heard a thump which I thought was the heater blower; Tom’s ears were stopped up from the altitude, so he couldn’t hear it till I brought it to his attention. Then it dawned on me, could we have a flat tire?  Is that why all those men were hollering at us?

We pulled off the road and lo and behold we did have a flat rear tire.  Tom couldn’t turn off the motor, for fear it wouldn’t start again, so he put a large rock in front of the tire, and proceeded to change the tire. To his amazement and disgust, he couldn’t get the lugs off the bad tire.  In the meantime, we are out in the rain and snow, wondering what we will do.  He flagged down a small truck for a better wrench, and out came 25 people from this small closed truck.  They couldn’t help us, but they flagged down a bigger truck. The man came over with a little bag of tools and said he was the machine doctor, and proceeded to change the tire for us.  Tom gave him a tip, and off we were again, but Tom forgot he pull the rock out from the front of the tire, and the car wouldn’t move.  Then he remembered what he did after he pushed down on the gas pedal and rode over the big rock. We rode all the way down in the rain and wanted to stop in the town of Karaj to buy some souvenirs, but we were afraid to turn the motor off.  We arrived at our house, turned the motor off and out of curiosity we tried the motor again but it wouldn’t start.  If it hadn’t been for the nice Iranians, we might still be on the mountain road.

We were so tired and beat from the ride home, we just wanted to sit and relax with lunch and a drink. We sat down to enjoy our lunch and Tom decided he needed some soothing music.  He plugged the tape recorder into the 220 v and thought something was the matter with our electricity, as the radio wouldn’t play. Then he remembered it was a 110 v and needed a transformer, be was really upset then, because he blew out the transformer in the radio…. and it wasn’t our radio!



Believe it or not his Daddy delivered him in the front seat of his truck, on the way to the hospital, on HWY 18. Needless to say we didn't quite make it there.  The way 5 year sister Natasha tells the story, its pretty interesting...but I think after the shock and just realizing that we in fact made it down the mountain in the early morning hours with ice on the ground and at the time it felt like we were driving 95,000 miles per hour, everything worked out fine. 


Jacob weighed 8 lbs 0 oz. and was 21 1/2 inches long.



Click here to read a story about CHECKPOINT CHARLIE



My uncle wrote a heart warming poem about how "color blind" my grandfather was in an age before it was popular. (My grandfather was born in the late 1800's.)  He and my grandmother were members of an elite country club and brought some friends of "the wrong race" to dinner there one night sometime in the '30s or '40s.  The manager approached my grandfather and said they were welcome to enjoy themselves that evening, but the friends were not welcome to return.  My grandparents left and cancelled their membership, never to return as they wouldn't belong to such a club.

-- Sandy (Jones) Corder


One summer, it was so HOT and HUMID, I decided I could not stand it anymore, so I cut my hair short. Then I cut short the hair of my daughters in the house. Since all the neighborhood kids hung out at my house, my niece, Trish Magrann, was there too (they lived next door to us in Cornwell Heights). She wanted her hair cut too, so I did that. Well, I thought I lost the friendship of my sister-in-law, Mary Jane Magrann, for good. She was Trish's mother, and she called me, angrily saying that if she wanted her daughter to have a hair cut, she would do it herself. I humbly apologized...fortunately, it did not destroy our friendship!

When Tom Magrann II was young, he got a gold brace for his teeth to help to straighten his crooked teeth. These removable appliances did not work well back then, but it was all they had. One day, he left it on the driveway and it was run over by a car. We are not sure if he left it there on purpose or not!

Hank Jones loved cars. One of his friends owned a car dealership and wanted to sell it. He offered to sell it to Hank for $10,000. Since Hank had good credit, he was able to get $5000 by using his Cornwell home as collateral, but he needed a partner for the other half. His partner (Ed?) then came to own the business. Hank would work hard at getting the customers into the building, but they would walk right out because Ed insulted them all. Finally, Hank told Ed to sit in the corner and not open his mouth. He became a true silent partner!


I used to sit with Aunt Beck (Mary Magrann, married to Ed Coll), and we would go through per photo album, and she would tell me great tales about them. One on my favorites was when uncle Al Sees, came to see Aunt Kate, all of the children (her siblings) huddled on the stairs to try to listen to the conversation.  They heard a loud "BANG’ and one of the children shouted, “He has shot Kate!" aunt beck would always laugh and shake he head at the foolishness of the whole thing.   How I miss them all, especially at Christmas.  Aunt Kate, Uncle Al. Aunt Beck, Uncle Ed, and Elizabeth (Biff) would spend Christmas day with us (Aunt Beck would bring four pies from Linton's bakery} my mom would cook the turkey, and because we were all together, it became one of my best memories.

When I knew Aunt Kate she was not well; she had to wrap her legs in bandages and she slept in a chair at night.  She was also a little testy, probably because of the pain, but my sister Dorothy, born in 1921, said Aunt Kate was very engaging, and fun to be with.  Her daughter Elizabeth (Biff) married later in life to John Rodgers.  They lost a baby, and then adopted two boys.  Unfortunately, the boys were developmentally delayed, and it was not a good placement.  I do not know where they are and have not known anything about them for 60 years. Uncle Al was a partner in a pencil company; Sees and Faber. We always had tons of pencils growing up, however he sold out as some point, and he retired. They lived in Philadelphia in a home that had a shower upstairs (it was a source of amazement to me since in the 1930's a shower was unusual).  I guess it was put in for Aunt Kate’s benefit, because of her leg problems.  I think they were comfortable (financially) and they also helped out my mom during the depression with food and probably financial help.  My dad was unemployed for many years, and did not find a steady job until 1940.

One time, I spent a week with Aunt Beck.  Uncle Ed worked for the Phila Transit Company.  He would stand on the platform for eight hours, and holler CLOSE DOORS.  He would get home about11PM and I would wait under the table, and he would come in and say, "What’s new today Beck" and she would reply "Not much, Ed" and I would dash out to his arms from under the table.  I adored him. However, one Saturday during my visit, I went to the ice box for a drink of milk, and slammed the cat’s tail in the door.  Aunt Beck fainted; I flew downstairs screaming and thought I had killed them both. (The cat was screaming Aunt Beck was on the floor, and I decided a different location might be feasible. A kind neighbor went up, released the cat (later named Tippy) and administered to Aunt Beck.  It took a while for me to risk the stairs, but when I did, I got a big hug and a bit of advice from my dearest Aunt.  I loved her so much; I think my idea of heaven would be to walk into her arms, with Uncle Ed next.  Seems odd not to put my parents first, but with Beck and Ed, I experienced unconditional love; something a parent cannot always manage.

 I was a page girl for my sister Dorothy’s confirmation (about 2) and I was down in the main church with the other pages.  Aunt Kate, Uncle Al, Aunt Beck, Uncle Ed, and Biff were in the main church.  My mom was up in the choir; she had a lovely voice, and I just happened to look up and saw her holding a small child.  It is reported that I yelled in a very loud voice "YOU PUT THAT BRAT DOWN". Needless to say the congregation was stirred, my aunt Beck was laughing (trying to cover her face) and momma was glaring from the heights.  Well, we went home for the celebration and Mom promptly announced that she was going to whip me.  At that, Aunt Beck said “If you touch that child, we are leaving”. Neither side crumbled, so out the door they went, which messed up Dorothy’s party, and I got sent to bed, no whipping. I don't remember feeling guilty; I loved to look at picture books and appreciated the quiet in my bedroom.  However, to this day, I refuse to enter a balcony.

 Christabel Battock Bergbauer is a totally wonderful sister-in-law.  When I visited her in San Diego, we would sit, have rum and coke, and talk about our relatives (husbands were not exempt). We would go to thrift shops, shoe stores (I still have my Birkenstocks (18yrs old) other stores, looking for a bargain and laugh most of the time. at just about anything.  

 My daughter Susan was born at Penn State while her dad was pursuing an EE degree.  Michael John Kaupp was born in 1958, the last semester before graduation herb said that his grade point average dropped that last semester because Michael cried from 8p.m. to 10 p.m. and we were living in a 35 foot trailer (with no insulation and a heater that needed some deep analysis) It usually picked the coldest nights to go out, and I remember my bare feet sticking to the floor.  Let me say, however, it was not a dirty floor, just what would happen if you stepped on ice.   We moved to Collingswood, NJ and Richard Lee Kaupp was born in 1962, we moved to Pennsauken NJ and Martin Edward Kaupp was born on 1964.  Susan is 5'10", funny, talented but at this time she is dragged down with chronic fatigue and it has changed her ability to get around.  She had a degree BS in computer science and changed her focus, to get two degrees in metalsmith (my dad's) job, and art history.  She taught art at a school for troubled students and had to stop because of the energy to keep up with the students.  Mike received a BA in Econ.  worked for some years for Strawberries Records, left, went to California, worked there and with his charm drew his younger brother Martin out to join the group. Richard, was married to Cheryl Gussman and was working as a chef, he ended up as Exec Chef and the Mondrian hotels Asis de Cuba.located in L.A.  He left Cheryl, met and stayed with Barbara (both worked in the food distribution business, but in 2012, he returned home to Cape Cod, looked and worked but finally ended up, as a chef at the Hudson hotel in New York City in February he will go to South Beach, and do his menu creation and trouble shooting.  He likes his job and we love his cooking.  Martin is an adventurer.  He has been to Peru, working with an indigenous tribe.  He has done other wonderful things, worked on a farm, volunteers at Hospice. is absolutely pleased with his brother Richard’s culinary skills.  Richard might be gone but Martin continues to keep us from going into assisted living.  Herb is in much pain with his back, and I am not able to do some of the problems that keep a home running.   Having the boys here (neither married) is a God-send. 

When I was about 8, Aunt Jean had just died.  Aunt Beck told my mother to her come home because Aunt Stella had children at home, (perhaps Regina, called Jeannie) who was about 3 or 4 years my senior).  Aunt Jean had cancer and she was in great pain.  I think I was at Aunt Beck's for a short visit; I was there when the priest came to give her the last sacraments.  I went back home and about a week later Aunt Jean died.  Our whole family (dad, mom and kids) went down to Philadelphia, and we stayed at Aunt Kate’s house.  We were in the kitchen, having lunch when a man walked in, and no one said anything to him, he just stood there.  He finally said “Kate”, and when no one answered, he backed off, turned and left.  I said "who was that momma" and momma said "it is my brother John" I wondered why no one would speak to him, and she did not answer.

 Mom had always told the tale that, when I was born, Uncle John worked for an Undertaker.  They thought very highly of him and he remained in their employ for some years.  The tale went on to say, I was the only baby in our entire extended family that came home from the hospital in a limo.  Now, as an eight year old, I wondered what had happened to turn him family against him.  I did learn that he was an alcoholic and that contributed to his losing his job, but later I saw a photo of him dressed more suitably as one of his sisters.  So, who knows?  I think I would like to remember him as a handsome Irishman, with a grand tenor voice, who, when he was able, helped out his family. He never married, had no children, and his  burial place unknown.

 Aunt Lydia, from what I know and saw from her photos, was beautiful, and my mother always added, "The smartest one in the family."   My mom remembers that she and her little sister Phyllis (who became a nun later)

filled the lace wedding bells on Lydia’s dress with tufts of cotton.  This made the bells stand out.  Aunt Kate had made the dress for Aunt Lydia and my niece, Sara, has the original dress, on a dress dummy, in her bedroom in Nashville.  The waist of the dress looked to be about 17" wide and I have never seen photos of a lovelier bride.  I don't remember many other things about her, other than there was a great deal of anger toward Lydia’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Lafferty.  Lydia married John Lafferty (a resident of Baltimore, MD) and after the marriage, the couple moved to that state. Apparently my grandmother, Lizzie, wanted Lydia to come home to Philadelphia and have the baby there.  Mrs. Lafferty did not want "their Liddie" to leave.  In that case, grandmom asked to be called as soon as Lydia seemed ready to deliver and she was assured that they would do that.  Unfortunately, the call was late, and grandmom got there just in time to watch her dearest child die.  Lydia delivered a baby boy they called John.  Twenty some years later, we went to his wedding to Margaret.  I am not sure if there were any children.  Mom later learned that the dirty instruments used by the doctor were the direct cause of Lydia's death.

When I knew Uncle Frank Magrann, he was in a wheel chair.  He looked very small, and probably, when in good health was not a tall man.  He wore glasses, and had dark hair.  When we would speak to him he would look up at us.  I was frightened when I saw him, and really didn't want to be near him.  I never heard him talk, although all the sisters would chat around him.  My mom said he had been gassed in WW1. He married Mary Gram, and they adopted a child, they called Dorothy.  My mom adored her niece and said what a wonderful help she was to her mother and dad.  Dorothy married Ed Flite, and I was the flower girl at her wedding.  I didn't see her for many years until many of the cousins came to my dad's funeral.  I remember seeing Eleanor Magrann (Jim’s) wife. I think her maiden name was Todd.  Biff Rodgers was there and Dottie Magrann, but I think Biff was the last of the older family members attending.

 My aunt Phyllis, the youngest of the Magrann children, was very close to her mom and my mother.  What I have heard was that my mother had a disappointment in love, and "carried on to such a degree" that my aunt Phyllis was to have said "I’m never going to get married". Aunt Phyl joined the Holy Child Order, and entered the convent in Philadelphia.  My grandmom Liz used to go to mass every morning and my mom said her mother was very angry that she could not see her youngest daughter and I got the impression that grandmom Liz was not happy that her daughter chose the religious life. Aunt Phyl was in Philadelphia. but most of her time was spent in Waukegan, Illinois.  much later, when she was dying, my mother would go to Rye, New York, where they had a hospice for the nuns.  Mom was with her when she died.   When she came home, mom said "Phyllis said she loved me" although giving hugs and saying “love you” were not allowed in her order.  Also, she was not allowed to eat in public, or with family if they visited.  When my daughter Susan was born, and my husband Herb and I were in Chicago, we went for dinner at the convent (served by an anon. nun) and we took Susan to introduce her to her great-aunt who was very pleased, but Susan cried the whole time.

I remember Tom and Mary Jane Magrann’s wedding.  I remember how beautiful Mary Jane looked.  I don't remember the church part, but the reception was held in someone's home (perhaps Mary Jane’s parents?)  I do remember sitting on a set of stairs and being overwhelmed.  Tom was handsome with dark (curly) hair and I thought he looked like a prince.

Hank and Peggy lived very near to my home.  I seem to remember that Hank sold cars in Bristol, Pa.  Peggy was everything I thought an Irish lass should look like.  It is odd that although they were close family, I don't recall them visiting.  Perhaps it was because my dad was paralyzed and mom was taking care of him.

Give all my dear cousins my love and I don't really feel so "removed" from any of them.

Rosemary Bergbauer Kaupp (mother was Dorothy Magrann)


Memories of John Magrann by his niece, Tracey Magrann  

John had a patient who needed to lose 50 pounds for his health, but was unable to lose the weight. John said "I will help you. I will put on an extra 50 pounds, then we will lose the weight together". So John ate a lot of nuts and other things with calories until he gained 50 pounds, then he and his patient lost the weight together.

 John had a patient who needed a good pair of running shoes so he could exercise, but the patient could not afford the shoes. John whipped out his wallet and gave him the money and said, "Come back next week with those new shoes." And the patient did return the next week with the new shoes on, and started exercising to improve his health.


About his monkeys: and other memories

My family went to John's house to go swimming. My mother, Mary Jane, was wearing a white terry cloth robe. John's monkeys were outside in the pool area in a cage, and the biggest monkey kept reaching through the bars to my mother. We could not figure out why that monkey wanted my mother so badly. Then John said, "I know what it is....that monkey LOVES marsh mellows....he thinks Mary Jane is a giant marsh mellow!"

When I was 10 years old, my Uncle John taught me to paint in his garage. He took me out to a store and bought me a book, canvas, brushes, and  paints. He then held my hand while standing behind me, and showed me how to paint a vase of flowers. I went on to paint other things after that, and art became one of my hobbies. Thank you, Uncle John! Love, Tracey

In Pennsylvania, we were not allowed to buy our own fireworks, so when we came out to California in the summer to visit Uncle John and his family, he would give $100 to the boys and $100 to the girls to go out to the local fireworks stands and buy fireworks. That was a lot of money back then, and we had so many fireworks, it took many hours to set off everything. Boy, was that memorable! 

Uncle John took my family to Las Vegas. He gave my brother $100 and he gave me $100 to spend while we were there. That was an amazing amount of money to a 10-year old in 1970. I just kept the money instead of spending it on anything.

When I was 10 years old, my Uncle John taught me to paint in his garage. He took me out to a store and bought me a book, canvas, brushes, and  paints. He then held my hand while standing behind me, and showed me how to paint a vase of flowers. I went on to paint other things after that, and art became one of my hobbies. Thank you, Uncle John! Love, Tracey

In Pennsylvania, we were not allowed to buy our own fireworks, so when we came out to California in the summer to visit Uncle John and his family, he would give $100 to the boys and $100 to the girls to go out to the local fireworks stands and buy fireworks. That was a lot of money back then, and we had so many fireworks, it took many hours to set off everything. Boy, was that memorable!  Tracey

Uncle John took my family to Las Vegas. He gave my brother $100 and he gave me $100 to spend while we were there. That was an amazing amount of money to a 10-year old in 1970. I just kept the money instead of spending it on anything.

When I was 10 years old, my Uncle John taught me to paint in his garage. He took me out to a store and bought me a book, canvas, brushes, and  paints. He then held my hand while standing behind me, and showed me how to paint a vase of flowers. I went on to paint other things after that, and art became one of my hobbies. Thank you, Uncle John! Love, Tracey

In Pennsylvania, we were not allowed to buy our own fireworks, so when we came out to California in the summer to visit Uncle John and his family, he would give $100 to the boys and $100 to the girls to go out to the local fireworks stands and buy fireworks. That was a lot of money back then, and we had so many fireworks, it took many hours to set off everything. Boy, was that memorable!  Tracey

Uncle John took my family to Las Vegas. He gave my brother $100 and he gave me $100 to spend while we were there. That was an amazing amount of money to a 10-year old in 1970. I just kept the money instead of spending it on anything.