Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30, 1996 - 16 years ago today..

I hear this loud ring of a bell near my ear. My brain is cloudy, muddled and foggy with sleep which had not come to easy last night. I look at the clock. “It's only 5AM” I thought, “who would call me so early?” OH I moan because I am not a morning person...and last night had NOT been a good night of sleep. I had tossed and turned after hearing such bad news from Arizona. 

 In the early evening my son, Shawn called me to tell me that he had talked to his dad. He said "Mom I got some bad news.."   Gary had gotten call from Rick Grabowski who told him that our friend Tom Hudock was dead. They had found him in his truck in the desert after being missing for a few days. It was suicide. He took his own life. He and Marilyn were separated and I knew things had gotten bad but..... 

Gabe and Tom
I immediately started making phone calls to our friends to find out more. The news was sad and I was brokenhearted for my friend, Marilyn and her son Dusty. I just could not wrap my arms around it.  Why would Tom do this? Tom and Marilyn were my staunch supports thru my divorce. They lived three doors west of me and we did a lot together, Me, Tom and Marilyn. Silly things like flea markets and garage sales on Saturday mornings, hamburgers at the neighborhood burger joint anytime of the day or night and dirt track midget car racing in the desert on Saturday night, watched movies and walked in our neighborhood. If I needed to go to the grocery store, I called Marilyn to see if she needed anything and she did the same...We shopped together for years....Oh we had fun..I have many, many funny stories to put on paper someday of those days...
Sharon, Gabe, Leah Marilyn
My thoughts were spinning wildly in my head as I tried to process what had happened. And at sometime later in the evening, wondered if there would be a way to get to Arizona. “I will look into that”, I thought “tomorrow!” I cried, I laughed and I cried some more...just boys were each on there own and living in other my grief was all my own. Greg did not know Tom and Marilyn. Oh, he had met them once when he came to visit me...but he did not know them. They were from my “previous” life that he was not apart of.

At some point in the evening, I realized, “oh shit, I did not call Dad...It's his birthday and I should have called him.” then I cried some more. I decided that I could not call him today and tell him what I knew.  First off, I would burst into tears as soon as I heard his voice.. Now that would be a great birthday greeting wouldn't it! Mom and Dad knew my friends from down the street after years of visiting us in the winter. I just could not tell him that Tom had died much less any of the circumstances which surrounded his death SO I would wait to talk to him tomorrow. I knew that he would totally understand why I waited!
OH, my brain finally seems to's the phone is's 5 AM and the phone is ringing. Wake up and answer it, Jan. I pick up the phone and I hear crying. “Who is this,” I think at first... Then I realize it is Pam and what is she saying...”he gone, whose gone? What, Dad? NO, NO, NO....that can't be I cried...I did not get to talk to him yesterday..” I cried, and cried and cried some more...

It is funny how the brain thinks when you are consumed with grief.  It runs, as God designed, on auto pilot. My thought was “I guess I won't be going to Arizona after all....Wow, how surprised Dad will be when Tom is there to greet him! "

Love, Jan

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29, 2012 - Special Post for Dad's Birthday

I'm not following protocol this time...but this is a special day for the Smith family.  Harold Alton Smith, our dad and our children's paternal grandfather would have been 84 today.  Many times I've said, "If I could just chat with Dad, what would I want to tell him first?  Where would I start?"  Let's see...

Dear Dad...Happy 84th Birthday!  Here's some updates....

The family's have son in laws, grands and great grands to meet and we're all a little older.  Can you imagine your oldest is 61?  And your youngest just settled a daughter at college for her first semester?  Your grandchildren and great grandchildren now range in age from 39 (Shawn's pushing 40!) to 23 months.  Peyton Lee Semp will be 2 September 21.

The world is smaller.  Technology has closed the gaps and puts us in touch with all reaches of the world.  Thank goodness for Skype with the Semps in Michigan, Virginia and Florida, not to mention using it with Bjarne and Ingrid in Denmark and with Kelsey at college...and sometimes with Pam and Jan just because its neat to feel connected when we don't live as close as we like.  I know you would love it, Dad.  The text messaging and cell phones (except in an emergency!) probably wouldn't interest you, or the laptops, iphones or smartphones that we carry on a day to day basis...pinging, twerping and tweeting.  Can you believe we have had to spend precious legislative time to control citizens texting and driving?  And Facebook, Twitter...well, let's not go there.  You would love Pinterest though...endless ideas to inspire you!

I hope you wouldn't be discouraged about the state of small town America and the struggles that downtowns face.  Retail isn't anything like it used to be and I'm not sure what we have now is a positive result.  For you to see me working with a computer/s constantly, basing two ecommerce businesses from a store that once saw hundreds of visitors in a single weekend, and yet figure out how to keep things moving forward...I think you'd be intrigued and asking a bunch of questions!

 Dad, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you.  So many times its a funny incident that I know you'd enjoy...sometimes to the point of laughing til you cried.  Laughing til your face turned red and the hankerchief would come out of your pocket and the glasses would come off for a good mopping up.  I enjoy the light moments so much that I've started to document them for a book that I always said I wanted to write.  It has a title..."All My Stupid Stuff" and I've learned how wonderful it is to be able to enjoy the silliness of life and to be able to laugh at ones self.  You were so good at that!

And Dad, what's really on top of my list to tell you is about our family...that we continue to stay connected, close and involved.  That we take turns being supportive and being supported.  We do a pretty good job...and when we fall off the wagon, there's someone right there to extend a hand, yank us back up and keep going.  It isn't just about the fun times at Sand Lake, the holiday gatherings or the celebratory milestones we reach.  Its a day to day we all get to travel.  We are blessed to have our family to journey with.  Thank you for the role model you provided!  It's great to hear my children quote a "Grandpa Smith-ism" or retell a Grandpa's priceless.

We think of you with birthday wishes, the traditional Smith birthday song...if heaven could stand it...and know that God has blessed you with life eternal for countless birthdays.  Enjoy this day and infinitely more.  Sing Leah, sing!

The last photo of Dad, taken Aug. 28, 1996...the day before his 68th birthday and two days before his passing to eternal life.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week 34 of 2012 - Local carnivals and other things they bring to town

Been thinking this week about this topic. In Romeo, our annual trip to the carnival was for the Romeo Peach Festival. The Peach Festival is always on Labor Day weekend. There was a “Peach Parade”, the local orchards all had bushels and bushels of peaches, along with “peach this and peach that” everywhere you looked. It was also the time of the year when the carnival came to town. In the early days of September you would start to see them arrive. Trucks pulling trailers with carnival rides like “the Twister”, Merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel and plenty of carnival games and food stands. They had kiddie rides , a fun house and a ride or two for adults. They would begin by parking in the field where they would setup and after a day or two. Magically the empty field would transform into the playground that every kid in town had dreamed about all summer long. A place which teased everyone senses with bright colorful lights at night, loud bumming music and sounds, and tantalizing aromas that we all can identify. Pop Corn, Lemonade, Corn dogs, Elephant ears, cotton candy and colored ice....all the wonderful flavors which kids and adults alike wait all year to enjoy.......

Pam Sue and Janet - 1958 Peach Festival
I just love this picture! I only have vague memories of this.  Mom rode the merry-go-round with me holding on to me but get a look at Sue!   She has a grin from ear to ear and is holding on for deal life.  Isn't that the greatest,  she looks like she is having the time of her life. 

When I was older, I rode all the rides that they would let me ride. I think that the Twister was my favorite. I remember going on it once with my sisters and I was in the middle. I got squished between them. It all happens so fast there was nothing you could do but laugh and scream! I was a bit apprehensive of the fun house. It was dark and a bit scarey for me when I was young. Everyone walked through it in a line and lights flashed, there were mirrors so you did not know if you were seeing yourself or someone else as the light turned on and off. I seem to remember that at some point the floor moved or the walls shook around you and you thought the floor was moving....The fat and tall mirrors were fun and made you laugh when you realized that you were looking at yourself...and you did know it at first! 

Jan, Matt, Leah, Sharon and Sue watching Mark drive. - Peach Festival 1965
By the time we were teenagers, we had moved to Imlay City and now we had the "big" fairgrounds and the Eastern Michigan State Fair!!! The Carnival would come to town for a week and we hoped we could go more than once. You would save your money all summer and hope that you could go with your friends and ride all the rides all night long. You didn't want to go on Tuesday night (kids night) or Saturday during the day(Kids Day). One night was wrist band night so for one price you could ride the rides as much as you wanted all night long. You wanted to go with your friends when all the action was going on! At night at the Grand Stands, there would be concerts, tractor pulls, demolition derbies and horse racing. You hope that your money held out the whole time you were there. You had to decide whether you wanted to spend your money on food or on rides. I liked the rides the best . When your money started to run out, you could always take a break and hit up the 4H animal barns. I was never in 4 H but I had plenty of friends who were and that is where you would find them during fair week. If it was hot and humid, the barns could be a bit stinky but that was a part of the fun!

Years later, we would own a home right around the corner from the Imlay City Fairgrounds. It was at that time when I decided that carnivals were not so much fun. As a young mother, having loud speaker blare until 11:30 at night which kept my small children awake until nearly midnight was not fun. With my husband working nights at the restaurant during fair week, it also added an element of fear ..not really fear but a sense having to be a bit more cautious that week with all the strangers that the carnival brought to our neighborhood. It was one week out of the year that we made sure we locked out door when we were not home. by this time the fair grounds had begun to charge a parking fee so our driveway became a favorite place for friends and family to park. Some years my yard was a parking lot. It was fun to see everyone! Rick Matthews came every year and took Shawn to the tractor pull, it was the highlight of Shawn's summer.  He adored Rick.

Check it out, here is the link to the Eastern Michigan Fair website:

They have been having it every year since 1883. Sharing great memories that is for sure!

Love, Jan

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Week 33 of 2012 - When things go bump in the night....

In all of my 61 plus years of life, I can only remember a couple of bad dreams, or other upheaval that caused me to feel fearful during my night/sleep time.  I always say that I'm SOOOOO tired I don't have the energy to dream or even have something wake me up!  We all know, however, that there's always brain activity or dreams, we just don't remember them.  My bad dreams...the couple that I remember involve being chased or something to do with the s word....ending with e....and its a reptile.  You all know what I'm talking about. 

I do remember the early morning of Dad's passing and the phone call that came at something like 4:20am....that was a call that caused instant fear and I'm not sure that I will ever forget that feeling.  During subsequent years, I would often wake up between 4-4:30 and not be able to go back to sleep  I also remember a phone call in the wee hours from the Harbor Beach Police Dept.  Patrolman Glenn Cook was alerting me that the west door to the quilt shop was unlocked.  "Would you please come down and lock it?"  "Be right there...just don't look at me," was my sleepy response.  So, it wasn't too bad a bump in the night after I got awake...and made my way to empty State Street in my pajamas, boots and coat thrown over the top to lock the door in front of the officer.  UGH!

May your nights be sweet, peaceful and free of bumps....I wish you pleasant dreams!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 32 of 2012 - Parades

Strike up the band, here come the policecars and firetrucks and you know the parade cannot be too far behind!  Parades were a part of our family's summer activities.  And for many years, as a youngster, I thought it was pretty cool to have a parade for MY  BIRTHDAY every year.  Having a May 29th birthdate, means it coincides with Memorial Day (sometimes it falls on my birthday!) and all the special observances for those that have lost their lives trying to keep us free!

  Similarly observed today, we enjoyed a parade and ceremonies at the cemetary and city park, complete with band music, speeches and a 21 gun salute. At some point, someone explained to me that the parade and subsequent barbeque and birthday cake did not necessarily go together.  In later years, I was in the parade with my clarinet and the Romeo High School Marching band.  That's me...second in line...and I hope I'm on the right foot!  We are marching north of Main Street in Romeo.  That's the Congregational Church on the right.  The only other person I can identify is Debbie Braunschweig playing piccolo two people behind me.  I remember the wool uniforms as being very classy, with the attached red capes...but very hot in warm weather and very stinky if they got wet.  We had no rain gear!

 Mr. E.C. Ojala was our band director and also the choir director at the Romeo Methodist Church (pictured here behind the tuba player.)

I see a few faces I recognize in the band.  But look at the crowds lining both sides of the street.  Parades were a BIG DEAL!  During my high school years,  The RHS Marching Band would participate in 3-4 parades in the area and receive payment for appearing.  It was a great fund raiser for the band.  Our yearly trip to the Traverse City Cherry Festival and an overnight stay at the cabins in Cadillac was a highlight of each summer.  (BTW, the cabins are still there!  We go by them on the way to Sand Lake and its always a trip down memory lane...stories for another time.)

But as a youngster, I remember Dad always involved in the parade from a retailer point of view.  Working with Eggleston's Department Store in Romeo, I remember several floats that I got to ride on...often in pamjamas for some reason.  One had all of us kiddos in new pajamas from the store and there was this big cloud (on the top of a pole) that looked like cotton.  We kids had to lay under it and pretend to be asleep.  We would sit up to see where we were and would promptly be told to lay back down.  I also remember Dad working the the Miss Romeo float.  One of his employees, Connie Linteau, was Miss Romeo.  She got to sit on the top of a very elaborate structure, and her "court" or the girls that were the runners up sat down lower.  I remember how beautiful I thought Connie was.  Funny story with that, too...her mother, Kate, was our babysitter when Mom got strep throat and was too sick to care for us.  They were also the family that had the pig farm on 29 Mile Road where Dad collected the stones for our front wall on Fritz Drive (another store line!).  And even more than that, Connie later married Frank Kungel, who was one of my all time favorite teachers in High School.  SMALL WORLD...and I'm off the subject here.

"Queen" floats were important entries in the parades.  Note this one is scanned backwards...but look at the design and beauty of the workmanship. Many times they were not pulled, but were built around a vehicle.  An opening was left in the front for the driver to steer the float down the middle of the road and hope that there were no tricky corners.

"Friendship Lights the World"

 This photo also shows the elaborate design and detail that went into floats from my childhood.  Note the Statue of Liberty at the back of this float!  I still remember one float in a Peach Festival Parade in Romeo that was some sort of pirate ship.  It was so tall that each electric line over the road had to be held up with a tall pole so it could make its way down the parade route.  I don't remember there being candy and treats thrown to the viewers lining the street.  I do remember how chairs, blankets and sometimes roped off areas were marked early in the day to ensure the best vantage point.  As people gathered, the kids were told to stay on the curb and BE PATIENT!

A fun time was had by all...EVERYONE loves a parade!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Week 31 of 2012 - What do I want to be when I grow up....

Grow up?  What's that?  What do I want to be?  Exactly who I am...a woman blessed with a fabulous family and life.  Husband Mike, sons Brad, Greg and Derek, daughter in law ( no, daughter!) Lee, grandkids Morgan, Owen, Nathan, Austin and Peyton, sisters Sue, Jan, Sharon, brothers Mark and Matt, the entire Smith family,  in laws Mom and Dad Semp and the entire Semp family, dear friends from my childhood and adult life...far too many to begin to name....not to mention all the blessings of those customers that have come and gone only to return so often. They too, are like family to me.
Dad Semp's 82nd birthday Feb. 16, 2012
"Giant Cookie Baking - Florida, July 2012"
"Party Animals!"  New Years 2010

I am so thankful for my life and the blessings that God has so generously given.  Blessings also include my god given talents that have allowed me to learn, to make mistakes, to be forgiven and to do it all over again.  Jobs maybe don't come to mind first, but I've been lucky enough to try and fail and also try and succeed.  I did not do so well at Anna Mae Shovan's beauty shop when I just couldn't make the grade with my high school job.  Either the hair spray left on the hair dryer surface, or not ironing her bras well enough was my undoing.  I also didn't do well at the Vlasic pickle plant in Imlay City...only lasting one paycheck.  Packing "Vegetable Salad" into 20oz jars meant dried onion slices cut through the rubber gloves and cut my fingers.  Then the brine burned in the open sores.  That job failure allowed me to try poking kosher dills into the same 20oz glass jars.  My thumbs were bruised, swollen and sore.  I walked home that last night at 2am, showered to get rid of the brine in my hair and vowed there had to be something better to do than Vlasic's.  I also was too homesick to stay for the entire summer in the Chicago nanny job...but I lasted 3 weeks!
The very BEST sisters in the world....

I think I did better at Mitzelfeld's, the Chuckwagon, WMU Campus Bookstore, Tupperware, Mary Kay, babysitting at home, chief window dresser for Dad at HB Variety Store, Manager of The Corner Store, HB City Council Member and any number of other opportunities that have come along...even jet skiing on the first woman's team for Maritime.  But most of all...being wife, mom, grandma, sister, aunt, cousin and friend are what I want to and forever...and if I ever grow up!

Week 30 of 2012 - Sirens, Tornado Sirens and other warning devices....

Emergency warnings....they come in all shapes and sizes.  I remember the fire drills of South Grade School, Romeo Junior High and Romeo Senior High where we were to orderly evacuate the building using the correct door, and end up precisely "so many feet" away from the building.  It was usually a great 15 minute break from routine that caused the teachers another 15 minutes of classtime by the time everyone was settled back into their seats and the lessons resumed.  There were a few tornado drills where we were herded into the hallways sitting on the floor facing the wall with a hardcover textbook on our head.  I remember many of us trying to walk from the room to our spot balancing the book on our head...with varying degrees of success.  Actually, more books dropped than balanced and kids stopping to retrieve the protective headgear caused multiple kid pileups and more books plopping on the floor!  But North Grade School in Romeo, Michigan, was where everyone wanted to be for fire drills....they had a fire escape chute/slide on the north and south sides.  Wheeeee, and down the slide you went.  It was also a great place for recess until a teacher or principal put an end to it.  My husband attended North Grade School and says it was a favorite climbing, sliding place for every recess!

I also remember Mom telling the story of how we....Mom, Dad and baby Pam...made our first move as a family.  Residing on Skinner Lake until June, 1953, the story goes that Dad was driving an open truck with all of our belongings including Mom and 2 year old Pam, from the lake to Park Street in downtown Lapeer as the F5 Flint-Beecher tornado was killing 116 and injuring 844 along its 27 mile path through Genesee and Lapeer counties in Michigan.  Mom said that when we pulled into the driveway (we were moving to the second floor of the house owned by Grandpa Everett and Grandma Lillian who lived on the first floor), we were met by Dad's frantic and worried parents.  Unknowingly, the Harold Smith family had moved along almost parallel to the storm, not knowing how serious the storm had become.  No warning systems were available...

Today we have all the watches, warnings and emergency preparedness anyone could want...our parents and grandparents would be amazed at the "safe" world that we must now live in.  With television, computers, smart phones and centralized call systems within our communities, how could we not be totally prepared and protected?  We get warning calls on our phones for school closings, chemical spills and inclement weather.  The television interrupts or eliminates regular programming to broadcast the what, where, when and why of the latest emergency.  The television even has their own "test" of emergency broadcasting complete with a siren that is, or used to be, well known in every household.  "THIS IS JUST A TEST....THIS IS JUST A TEST.  IF THIS WAS AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY, YOU WOULD BE INSTRUCTED TO TUNE TO.......FOR UP TO DATE INFORMATION.  THIS IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM."  I remember as a child being freaked out when that would come on the television.

SO...are we safe?  Do the sirens, watches and warnings work?  Are we safer than our previous generations?  In some ways, I'm sure we are.  In other ways, it seems overdone...especially on television when an impending snowstorm is talked about for days before, schools are closed, events canceled and the crescendo of hype is deflated like a noisy, untied balloon.  BUT, thanks to all who try to keep us safe.  We are better off to pay attention and heed the warnings than to WISH we had afterwards.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 33 of 2012 - When things go bump in the night..

I do not remember being afraid of things when I went to bed at night.  When you have two older sisters, you just don't go to bed alone.  For many years I always had my sister sleeping in my bed with me. Then when my brothers were born, Dad made us a bunk bed.  Then I slept alone but I always knew that Sue was in the top bunk above me so I wasn't really alone..  I never remember going to bed alone....

I come from a family of talkers...don't laugh but we always had to talk a little bit before we went to sleep!!!! Many nights we would laugh and talk and carry on and eventually Mom would remind us that it was BEDTIME!  We would giggle a little more and eventually settle down...I do remember more than once when one of us was really tired, someone would say, "hey shut up...I want to sleep...."  and I remember more than once...I was the last one talking...and both of my sisters were fast am the talker!!!

We lived in rural, Macomb County, Michigan. We lived in a small neighborhood of maybe 20 houses with a lot of small farms nearby. I remember in the fall when it started to get cold at night, I would hear scratching in the walls... My sisters and I would get all snuggled in our beds under the covers and when we were very quiet but not yet asleep,  I would hear...scratch, scratch, scratch...scratch, scratch...

"What was that?  I would whisper.

"Did you hear it?" I would ask.

"SSSHHHH!  One of them would  yell...

"It's a mouse silly, now go to sleep!"   It happened every year.  Mom would get some traps out and we would catch a few...and before you knew it there would not be anymore.

One night in the wee hours of the morning, I got up to go to the bathroom.  As I perched half asleep on the toilet, a mouse ran over my foot.  I let out a scream which woke the whole house.  Mom found me standing on the toilet with my panties around my ankles, screaming...

"What are you doing? What is wrong?"   she asked me as she wiped the sleep from her eyes.
"A mouse ran over my foot!", I cried...
"Well, did it bite you?" she asked..
"No!", I replied, surprised by her question.
"Where did it go?" She asked....
"I don't know! " , I cried.
"You scared it half to death with your scream, now go back to bed!" she told me.

Week 32 of 2012 - Parades

My father was in retail. He owned and operated “five& dime stores” located in Imlay City and Harbor Beach Michigan. He was quite quite creative when it came to his marketing plans and on more than one occasion he used a good old parade as a great market tool. He was always on the hunt for just the right resource which he would use in the next marketing campaign. Often enlisted his family members including the grandchildren and their neighborhood friends (who were also sometimes his employees...) to help out with his plans.. The event was no exception. He found an old truck...1950's model I think...and we got out the grease paint. Not sure where he got the costumes but as I said he always seemed to find what ever he needed. 
Janet Tietz (as Andy), Pam Semp (as Annie) Brad, Kyle, Greg ,Shawn

This time the grandkids got to ride along and throw candy to the parade watchers from the back of the truck. I had moved to Arizona the year before and we came home for a visit.. ... I had the beginning of what turned out to be a raging migraine headache but did not want to disappoint my Dad or my kids who got to ride along in the parade. It was one of the only times my vision was not impaired. After the parade I took a long nap...and slept it off.

Another year ...another parade....

My mother was always such a good sport. Dad had he doing all sorts of things for his business now that all the kids were grown and in college. She worked daily in the store but he always made sure she had time to get dinner ready and watch her soaps in the afternoon. If she wanted an afternoon of she always got it!

My father always made it a point to have fun! I think we forget to do that sometimes. We get so busy living our life that we don't take time for fun! 

Derek and Greg get in on the act!
Brad, Harold,Greg, Kevin, Derek, Leah
Often it was a family affair which included the grandkids!

Hope you enjoyed this and lets learn how to have more fun!

Love,  Jan

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Week 31 of 2012 - What I want to do when I grow up

Another interesting topic... And I think I will follow it with another question....Am I grown up yet? I suppose if you look at my age you would say that I am indeed grown up but I don't think I am really any closer to the answer today as I was when I was 8 years old and had a discussion with Grandpa Smith about it. I can not remember exactly how the topic got started. I suspect that it may have been brought up by me. I must have seen or read something which gave me the inspiration...It was summer and we were outdoors enjoying a picnic. I can remember the day like it was yesterday. Grandpa was in his wheel chair and I was standing next to him. I piped up with....”I want to be an Oceanographer or an Archeologist.. “ I stated with all the enthusiasm of an 8 year old...”Oh,” Grandpa said rather surprised by my proclamation. “How can you do that when we don't live by the Ocean...not sure that there are any ruins here either...” he questioned....and in an instant, I realized he was right...I was disappointed. 

That was the first time I think I realized that there were these unspoken rules. Rules like woman became nurses, school teacher, mothers, and ladies who worked in retail. Woman did not become scientist, Oceanographers, Archeologist, doctors, lawyers and you get the idea... As I look back at this event, I can't help but wonder why the eight year old did not say “ Well, I'll just move to the Ocean! Or the Indians lived here before we did or I'll go live in Arizona...” Once again you get the idea. I did not question what my parents or Grandparents said...I guess I must have thought that they knew best. In 1963, we were not the mobile society that we have become. In Grandpa's generation and even my parents, people usually stayed close to other family members and found work nearby. Mothers stayed home with their children until they were through school and then maybe they got a job if they wanted to or needed to.

SO I continued through high school getting pretty good grades. I was in college prep courses with no college aspirations in sight. I became a mother before I finished high school. After taking a semester off of school because the school system did not let pregnant teens go to school, I went back to school and got my diploma. I guess the school district did not think that pregnant teens could still learn! No really the truth is, the system did not want me (being pregnant) to corrupt the young minds of the other kids. I was an inappropriate example. So glad that finally things have changed.

Years later when I was home with my kids...and we lived from pay check to pay check. I did everything I could to cost effectively buy food and clothes for my family and each month we got further and further behind. So I went to Control Data Institute to become a Computer Technician. Why Control Data, You ask? Because they advertized on TV  that I could do it!   Because it only took 9 months and then I could get a good job. Seriously, that is why I went...oh a friend of my husband thought I would be good at it... And he took the course a year or two before and he got a good job. The company that he worked for was growing quickly and they had lots of open positions! So the truth is out. That is how I made my decision about my career.

Now if you notice, I did not exactly go after the woman's usual job. I looked at Nursing...I volunteered at the Lapeer County hospital for about a year when my children were small. It was a test because I thought maybe I could become a nurse. After a year, I decided that it was too draining for me. Many times I arrived at the hospital to find that a patient whom I had become fond of had died. I wear my emotions out in PUBLIC. I could not get past it even after a year. I simply got too emotionally involved with the patients. So nursing was not for me...SO I went to school, finished in 6 months instead of 9 and became a computer technician in 1980. I fixed machines who did not have emotions. I would learn quickly that the Data Center managers did though and they did not like it when their equipment was broken!

When I was employed by StorageTek, my employee number was 27374 so there were at least 27374 employees hired with the company before me and four or five thousand were field employees like me. Of those 5000 field employees, I was the 28th female field engineer to be hired by StorageTek. Working with all those men was not easy. The male egos is enormous and was often my worst enemy whether it was a coworker or a customer. The attitudes were all the same. “What is she doing here?” I was naive,stubborn and determined that I was going to do my job as well as any man could. I had no clue what I was getting myself into and it was probably the best thing for me. I knew nothing about the way corporations ran their businesses, I had a job to do and I was going to do it...period..Years later some of my friends, all men of course, said I was like a steam roller when I came to town. I did not realize. I was a small mid western gal with a job to do. 

This is the only training session I ever had with another woman.  Her name was Robin.
I worked with two of companies through my 28 year computer career. I was not the type who jumped from job to job.  I was a dedicated employee in the days of when if you did a good job and took care of your company and it's reputation, your company took care of you too!  Never in my wildest dreams did I think 28 years ago that technology could progress forward at the speed at which it has.
Today I am sitting in front of a laptop which has more computing power than all of my customers data centers from all my StorageTek days combined! I worked in rooms the size of football fields and my laptop is more powerful! I also thought that there would always be computer jobs. Sadly Corporate America sold us out. In their global race to produce bigger, faster, cheaper, they decided it was more cost effective to outsource so they did. I am not alone, there are many of us, unemployed Americans who just want to work. It has been over 4 years.

So now back to the question of the week, what do I want to do when I grow up? And I ask you again, Am I grown up now? I think I need to learn to do something different. I love to learn and I love to help others.  I am not competitive.  I do not want to stress out over a high pressure career.  I am older and wiser. So stay tuned!

Love, Jan