The Eagle’s Cry Interview: Martin Conway and James Morris

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Erin Conway, Reporter

Two very important and influential men in my life are my grandpas. These two men both live very productive and content lives. Both have raised big families and worked hard. My paternal grandfather, Martin Conway, is a 90 year old marine veteran, retired construction worker, old soccer coach, father of 6, and a former square dancer. Throughout his life he found joy in quality family time and watching his favorite sports teams like the New York Mets.  My mothers father, James Morris, is an 86 year old retired New York City teacher, Teacher’s union leader , Veteran, widow, father of 5,  traveler, wine crafter, and Catholic Deacon. Over Morris’s 86 years he has lived he has traveled all over the world spreading the word of the gospel and helping others.

 

Martin Conway interview:

 

The Eagle’s Cry: Where did you grow up?

 

MC: “I grew up in Westbury. It was a nice little town. I lived in New Castle and all the kids from New Castle went to Westbury High school. I went to St. Bridget’s first and then I went to Westbury High school.”

The Eagle’s Cry: what was it like growing up?

 

MC:“It was nice. At 14 years old I was working on the farms picking potatoes and beans. I was getting 5 cents a bag for potatoes and 40 cents for a bushel of beans. We had greyhounds. We had about 50 greyhounds. We used to run them over at the fairgrounds over in Mineola where the courthouses are. My Father, his brother, and I  had a good time with that.”

The Eagle’s Cry: what was your family like?

 

MC: “Both my father and mother worked for the Whitney family in Old Westbury. The Whitneys had a huge house with a very big window. During the war we used to go up to the top and used to spot the planes for civil defense.” [The Whitneys were a very wealthy family at this time. This is the family of CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper’s mothers family. My grandfather’s father was the chauffeur and his mother was the cook.]

 

The Eagle’s Cry: what was it like serving in the marines overseas in Hawaii?

 

MC:“Oh that was rough.(says sarcastically) *laughs* Oh no, that was nice. I liked it. I didn’t go into Korea but, I was coming close to it if the war lasted another 4 or 5 months. We would have been in Korea then but we had a nice barax. A swimming pool right outside the barax, it was at the marine air base Canoe. There was a golf course right on the base. That was nice because I love golf.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: when did you meet your wife?

 

MC:“Oh, we met in Westbbury at a taxi business. She knew the people that owned the business.”

Was it love at first sight?

MC:“Oh sure! She was a nice woman and she is still a nice woman.”

Eagles Cry what is your favorite thing to do with your kids?

MC:“Going to see all their sports. They all played sports. All six kids played. All three boys played football, soccer, and basketball. The girls all played soccer. I helped out with the Hicksville soccer club. I liked to get involved because I feel if you put your kids into a program you should help out. Sometimes people don’t help.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: What’s your favorite thing about living in Bethpage?

 

MC:“It’s a nice little town. The kids stay here which I like. I am very lucky I have three kids that live in Bethpage. One lives in Hauppauge, one lives in Riverhead, and my oldest daughter lives down in Virginia.” “I love watching bethpage sports. I miss the sports very much. I would go to every game and watch most practices in Bethpage sports. I enjoy that. That’s what I like.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry:What is the most interesting thing about you?

 

MC:“So many things… uh I don’t know maybe that I went to singh singh. I spent years and years there. (This was a joke that he loves to make) Oh no I’m only kidding. I try to be nice to people and I like the people that treat me well. However, I have a tough time with a couple of my little granddaughters.” “All six kids never got in trouble. You have to watch your children. I believe today that the kids run the parents which I never let happen.” 

I found this comment very interesting due to the fact that I’ve heard so many crazy stories from my aunts and uncles that my grandfather never knew about back in the day.

 

The Eagle’s Cry: Who’s your favorite grandchild?

MC:“They are only my favorites at Christmas time.” (joking)

 

James Morris:

The Eagle’s Cry: Where did you grow up?

 

JM: “I grew up in Woodside and Flushing, Queens. I lived in apartment houses for 11 years and then my parents bought a house in flushing in 1944. Much of my growing up was connected with World War 2. I remember the day in 1941 when they announced on the radio that the Japanese had bombed pearl harbor.” 

 

The Eagle’s Cry: Did you play any sports?

 

JM:“I played football, baseball, and track in school. I only started running track in high school and was on the team all four years in high school.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: Where did you go to college?

 

JM:“I went to Iona College in New Rochelle. At the time this was an all men’s Catholic university. At this time many Catholic colleges were all men or women schools. However, not just Catholic.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: When did you first become interested in becoming a teacher?

JM:“When I was a senior in high school I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to study. My Parents said I may have wanted to study to be a lawyer and I said I didn’t know so, I went to college and majored in Liberal Arts to start off. However, I started to seriously consider being a teacher my freshman year in college.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: Where did you teach?

 

JM:I taught in New York City for my entire teaching career. My first 10 years was in South Jamaica. I taught one year in bayside queens before becoming a special education teacher on the psychiatric ward of Elmers hospital for high school kids. After teaching I joined the teachers union board due to being elected as a chapter leader. I was a very aggressive chapter leader because I was often at odds with my principal being a leader in the union. So, when I retired being that I was an active union member the union offered me a job to help new union leaders in new schools. I did this for 23 years.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: Why did you become a deacon?

 

JM:“I had been an active member in my church. I was very active in many different prayer groups and was given the opportunity to become a deacon. At this time I was also studying for my masters in Theology. Being a deacon, I want poor countries that do not have priests to have deacons to help those in need in those countries.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: What is your favorite place you have traveled?

JM:“My favorite place I have travelled would be Assisi, Italy. It is the city of St. Francis, that’s where he was born. The buildings have not changed in over 800 years which I find very interesting  and charming. The streets are very hilly however, you can walk up steps to get from one place to another.”

 

The Eagle’s Cry: What is the most interesting thing about you?

 

JM:“I make wine. I make California wine one half of the year and the other half I make South American wine due to the seasonal change. Another thing that is very interesting about me is that I am very active in helping alzheimer’s organizations due to my wife passing away from the disease. I was her caregiver for 18 years, so I meet with a caregiver group every month to help them. This makes me feel good because I love to help people.”