A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Book 2, Chapter 7
In a flashback, the narrator tells the story of Katie and Johnny's courtship. Katie Rommely, who is of Austrian descent, works in a factory with her best friend Hildy O'Dair, who is of Irish descent and dating Johnny Nolan at the time. They go on a double date and Katie thinks Johnny is handsome and attractive. Katie realizes when she first dances with Johnny that she wants to be with him, and she chases after him until she gets him.
"Maybe that decision was her great mistake. She should have waited until some man came along who felt that way about her. Then her children would not have gone hungry; she would not have had to scrub floors for their living and her memory of him would have remained a tender shining thing. But she wanted Johnny Nolan and no one else and she set out to get him." Chapter 7, pg. 56
In a tearful goodbye for the three, Johnny and Katie tell Hildy to go her way and that they will go their way together. Katie (age seventeen) loses her best friend and Johnny breaks up with his girlfriend. The two are married on New Year's Day of 1901 after knowing each other for only four months.
Katie's father, Thomas Rommely, never forgives her for marrying. He fled Austria to avoid the army, and refused to speak English once he moved to America. He expects his daughters to work for him. Consequently, they hate him. Katie's mother, Mary Rommely, is a strong, religious woman with a melodious voice and a mouthful of stories to tell. Despite this passion for communication, she cannot read or write. She is the strength in Katie's family. Katie's oldest sister, Sissy, is very flirtatious, sensual, and fun loving. She constantly seeks love in men, is on her third marriage, desperately wants children, but has lost ten babies to stillbirth. Eliza is the second daughter and the only one who lacks the fire and beauty of the other girls. She enters a convent while Francie is young and does not re-enter the novel. Evy is the third girl who also marries young. She wants children and loves music. All four women have a profound affect on Francie and she looks to each of them for guidance.
"Those were the Rommely women: Many, the mother, Evy, Sissy, and Katie, her daughters, and Francie, who would grow up to be a Rommely woman even though her name was Nolan. They were all slender, frail creatures with wondering eyes and soft fluttery voices...But they were made out of thin invisible steel." Chapter 7, pg. 68