Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jimmy Rizzardi: The Illegitimate Grandfather - Pt. 2

Continued from part 1...

Florence Polly Melvin decided to accompany her older sisters to the bar in Louisville that evening. She was different from her sisters; I think she probably always was...she had an innocence about her. Due to hardship, and a mostly absent and alcoholic father, Florence and her siblings had spent much of their childhood within the walls of the Louisville Industrial School, a house for orphans and delinquent children. Florence and her youngest sister had finally been released to family in 1919 while the older siblings had been released to live with their mother and seek employment seven years earlier. 

Jimmy Rizzardi was at the bar that night and I don't know any of the details, or even if Florence had ever seen Jimmy prior to that evening, but I can imagine that 22 year old Jimmy was probably a handsome lad and very adept at courting the ladies. He would marry at least five different women during his lifetime and one of those women he would legally marry three times!  Did he love women? Probably!

The way Florence told it: "Jimmy put something in my drink". But we all look at each other and nod our heads knowingly. Florence was never a drinker and she was just naive enough to suspect her drink had been spiked. I'm pretty sure she knew she was being served an adult beverage, but I'm also fairly certain she had no idea how alcohol might affect her; therefore, she believed there had to have been some extra "something" slipped into her drink to cause her such a mortifying loss of judgment.

A romantic encounter ensued. The alcohol allowed Florence to be sweet-talked by the charming young Jimmy; she didn't stand a chance, I'm sure. A few short weeks later, there she was: young, unmarried, and slowly waking up to the fact that she was pregnant. 

Florence's father had passed away while she was in the orphanage, and her mother, Eddy, had recently married a Louisville city policeman, T. J. "Jess" Price. Florence's only brother Bud, the oldest of her siblings, wrote to her mother and had this to say:

"As for Florence, I don't care what you do. She can have a dozen for all I care, as I haven't time to worry about her, and I'm not a good hand to worry. If she would not take ones advice once, I can't see how you could beat it in her to do right afterwards. That's just the way I feel about it, so tell Jess what he does for her will be appreciated regardless of how I feel."

It is uncertain exactly when Jimmy's wife packed up and left, taking their daughter with her. Jimmy was probably still legally married to Lassie during his brief affair with Florence...and I suspect he had many of these brief affairs during and in between his many marriages.

In September of 1922 Florence gave birth to a daughter, Florence Edna Melvin, Jr., and on the birth certificate Jimmy Rizzardi is clearly listed as the father.

Harvey J. & Florence Polly (Melvin)
Moore and her daughter
Florence Edna
Kentucky circa 1923
Less than a month after her daughter was born, Florence's childhood sweetheart, Harvey Moore, asked her to marry him, allowing him to give the baby his name. Florence agreed and she and Harvey were married on October 10, 1922. The name Florence Edna Melvin Jr. was eventually crossed out on the birth certificate, and Florence Edna Moore was penned in.

Harvey Moore died a little over seven years later in January of 1930 and in March that year Florence's sister Ruth wrote to her:

"I told him that Harvey stopped court trial over that baby and claimed it and knew you had it and promised to give her his name and protect and care for her and begged you to marry him so F.E. [Florence Edna] can rightfully claim anything that was his." 

(Ruth was married to Harvey Moore's brother William and this excerpt from the letter concerned a dispute with their father, Cornelius C. Moore, over property rights.)

This is where things got skewed. Florence and Harvey had been sweethearts long before her encounter with Jimmy. Some speculated that the baby must be Harvey's after all.  It appears Florence didn't insist on the truth being known at that time so the rumors persisted and after a while I think even those who once thought they knew the truth, were now confused.

A little over a year after Harvey's death, Florence married Elza Scott, the man that all her grandchildren would know as their grandfather.

Concluded in part 3...


No comments:

Post a Comment