Thursday, March 27, 2014

Week 9 of 2014 - Favorite Relative

Well since Jan wrote about Grandpa Anderson, I think I will choose Grandpa Smith.  What a great man and grandfather he was.  We Smith kids were so blessed!  Grandpa Everett Alton Smith was a wonderful and wise gentleman.  While spending almost half his life in a fight with multiple sclerosis...a disease that crippled not only legs, arms and hands, but sometimes took eyesight and speech away, too.  As disabling as it was, there wasn't much known about it and while we have much more research and documentation today, there still is no cure. I can remember Grandpa Smith walking with leg braces and a cane, while I'm sure my younger siblings only remember him in a wheelchair.  I never remember him complaining.  He continued to minister to his parishioners, guided the building of a brand new church in Lapeer...Trinity Methodist Church, and graciously accepted the title of Pastor Emeritus.  It was getting incredibly difficult for Grandma to take care of him herself and the decision was made to move to Detroit...a move that I'm sure was difficult to make.  With only one son, and the father of six children, I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa hesitated to go farther away and live in downtown Detroit at Boulevard Temple Methodist Retirement Home. It would mean more travel for son Harold and his family.  But it also meant that Grandpa would have the medical help and hospital floor he so desperately needed.
Grandma Lillian would not have to be solely responsible for Grandpa's care. Coupled with the fact that Grandma was about 5' 1" tall and probably weighed 120 pounds, and the disease was not showing any signs of letting up, it turned out to be a blessing for all involved.

I don't remember Grandpa ever complaining. He kept his sense of humor to the very end.  He sometimes would tease Grandma and everyone would enjoy the fact that Grandma was oblivious to the fun poked at her.  I always felt that my Dad's outlandish sense of humor was a carbon copy of his dad multiplied by 10.  Grandpa always was up on the world news, the latest joke and was very interested in what his six grandchildren were up to. He always had an April Fool's joke or two, loved cole slaw, roast beef and apple pie and listerine.  YUP...when I see or smell Listerine...that's my Grandpa Smith.
April 17, 1971  -  Untited Methodist Church - Romeo, MI. 

My marriage was performed by Grandpa Everett.  In those days, there weren't video tapes, but I still have the cassette tape of the ceremony and the still photographs with him in the front of the altar in his wheelchair.  We were also blessed with him baptizing our son Brad in 1973 in my parents home in Imlay City. There have been so many times when I think of Grandpa and wonder what he would think of our current church issues, progress or lack of and our world in general. Some day, I will get the chance to ask him.  I know he will still have the terrific sense of humor, gentle compassion and love of Christ that I feel was so very special about him.  He loved his faith and family, accepted the challenges of his life journey and encouraged all he came in contact with to do the same.  What a mentor he was to so many people.  Thinking of you, Grandpa!!!  Love you!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Week 11 of 2014 - 7th Grade - The year of the Sleepover!

In 7th Grade, was the year of the SLEEPOVER!  Oh my goodness, we did it a lot. It really began at the end of 6th grade.   I had a birthday sleep over in the summer before 7th grade.  It was the only Birthday Party of sorts that I remember having as a child.  My Dad took this photo of us all in our PJ's!    

These are all friends from Washington school.  Brenda Kirkwood, Michele Pilibosian and Sandra May (I think).  I can not remember for the life of me the name of the blonde girls behind me.  She was fairly new to Washington and was not there very long.  Soon after this her dad was transferred and she moved. I have unfortunately never been very good at remembering names!  We had a lot of fun that night. We slept in sleeping bags on the floor in the family room. With six children in our family already, there were no extra beds for extra kids!!! We talked most of the night before we finally fell asleep. As you can see there are pop cans and pop corn bowls so that must have been our snacks for the night!

In 7th grade, kids from all the area elementary schools would all go to the same Junior High School.  So it was like moving to a new town and going to a new school and bringing all your old friends with you!  The Junior High School was located in Romeo so instead of riding the bus south to Washington, we went north to Romeo. Our new school had once been the old high school building and it was a pretty big school compared to our elementary school.    Brenda Kirkwood and Michele Pilibosain, friends from Washington, went to the Powell Middle school after 5th grade when the school district boundaries were redrawn. We were friends for as long as I can remember.

Michele Pilibosain - 1968
Brenda Kirkwood- 1968
We had many sleep overs at Brenda's house. I remember one weekend in particular that she told us all about the haunted farmhouse down the road.  We had so much fun talking about it and scaring ourselves half to death.  We laid in her living room on the floor in our sleeping bags watching the house for any signs of spiritual activity.  I do not remember that we saw any but it was fun all the same!  It is just the sort of thing that preteen girls like to do!  I regularly talk to Brenda through Facebook.  It is fun to stay in touch.  She is very talented artist.  Check out her work at Http://

One time at a sleep over at Michele's house,  we went to the movies.  Don't remember what we saw.  The real purpose of going to the movies was to meet up with boys and spend some time with them.  All the boys were from Powell Middle school and I did not know any of them.  We were all paired up and I had no idea who this boy was.  It was pretty uncomfortable for me as I recall. After the movie, we returned to Michele's where we spent the rest of the night talking about boys!  I have lost touch with Michele.  Maybe someday I'll find her again. it would be fun to catch up.

Harriet was a friend from church, as I recall.  Our church was always in Romeo, so I did know a few kids through our church.  I spent the night with her on one occasion at least.  They had a really nice home north of Romeo as I recall.  It was a more modern home with two floors. One time when I was there I remember picking up a porcelain figurine which was on the kitchen counter. It may have been a German Hummel figurine, I do not remember which one but I dropped it and broke it.  I felt so bad and later learned that it was a very expensive piece. Mrs Leonard was very kind and gracious about the whole thing but I still felt awful.  We did not have expensive things like that at our house openingly displayed. This maybe the reason I was not invited again! I wonder where Harriet is now.

Jane and Helen were new friends who lived in Romeo. They had gone to the Elementary school in Romeo so I did not meet them until started at the Romeo Junior High School. 

Jane Dembowski

Helen Kitchen

Jane lived right across the street from the school.  Once the school year got into full swing, I would often stay after school on Friday at Jane's.  Sometimes it was for a dance, a football game, basketball game or just for a SLEEPOVER.  Seventh grade was the first year I went to a school dance.  They were always on Friday evening.  We would spend all afternoon in Jane's bedroom getting ready!   For the first hour at the dance, the music played and no one danced!  Eventually the girls would get tired of waiting for the boys to ask them to dance and a few of the girls would get brave enough and just go dance.  Then a few more and  a few more...before you knew it the boys would join in.  Every dance was always the same.   We would just get the dance floor really going and the dance would be over!

I got to know Janie's mom, Phyllis, she was the sweetest woman.  She made everyone who walked in the back door feel like they belonged in this loving home. I got a hug every time I came and every time I left to go home.  She was a fabulous cook.  She made food I had never heard of. And I always liked it.  No matter what she made it was delicious! She cooked for her large family and there was always extra for the expected guests.  There were always extra people!

The Dembowski's had a large, stately, two story home.  It felt like a mansion when compared to our ranch which we filled to the brim with nearly as many kids as they had. I remember they had two bathrooms and one was downstairs next to the kitchen.  We had one bathroom which all eight of us shared.  One day, Jane's Mom, decided to redo the downstairs bathroom.  It was a cute bathroom and did not seem like it needed to be changed or that anything was broken.  This was in the days long before Home Depot, DYI and the nearly constant remodeling mode of today.  It was in the day when functionality was the norm and this room was functional but she decided she wanted to change it.  So she did!  I had never known anyone to change a room just because...She painted and bought wallpaper which had bright, bold, vertical stripes on it.  She decided to hang the wall paper horizontally instead of vertically.  The first time I walked in after it was transformed, I was taken a back.  It was an amazing, bold, bright transformation.  She was the first adult who showed me very clearly how to "think outside the box".  She demonstrated that it was OK to not follow the rules sometimes. And she was not afraid to make her own rules. I always loved her for that.  It was a lesson I could never forget!  It was also at that time when I learned that bold, bright colors were important to me! I believe that it was Jane's Mom's influence who helped me discover that. To this day when I see bold color, I think of her.

 I spent many wonderful nights in this home away from home. It was a fun place full of activity.  There was lots of noise and people doing things and going places.  Since they lived in town, they did not need a ride here or there.  We could always walk.  It was at this time that I learned that there were so many more things in the world to do in TOWN!  I decided that I liked it!

We visited many of the small businesses n Romeo.  One of our favorites was a small shop downtown near the Drug Store on the east side of Main Street. Oh, I wish I could remember the name. It was one or two doors south of the Drug Store.  It was a store that sold small gifts as I recall but my favorite thing about it was the candy counter which had jars full of candy sticks in many different flavors. They had every flavor imaginable but my favorite was chocolate mint.  I also bought a small chocolate squares which melted in your mouth.  We were frequent customers.  

Those are just a few of my memories of 7th Grade in Romeo.  The next school year, we moved to Imlay City and I would begin all over with a new batch of friends in a new school and would miss my Romeo friends dearly. 

Hope you enjoy these memories as much as I did!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Week 10 of 2014 - Movie Time

Movies we saw when I was a kid...

We did not go to the movies very often.  We had a movie theater in Romeo. With six children in the family, it would have cost a small fortune for all of us to go.  When we did go, it was most likely a matinee. We lived outside of town so it just wasn't something that we did often.   I remember going to see Mary Poppins with my Mother and Dad in 1964.

 I remember having a hard time deciding if I wanted candy or popcorn as we got ready for the movie to start.  I settled on popcorn with butter.  It was so greasy and I did not get enough napkins for my hands so I sat for the rest of the movie with greasy hands.  My sister Sue always got Snow Caps, the dark chocolate wafer candy with white sprinkles on the top.

In 1966, for the 10th Anniversary of the Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments", a large group of us from the Romeo Methodist church went to Detroit to the Fisher Theater to see the movie.  It was the Methodist Youth Fellowship group and their families who went. I was one of the younger kids in our group.  It was my most memorable movie.  It was an special showing event for our youth group and others.  The theater was large and beautiful. It had a wide staircase that we climbed as we made the way to our seats which were high in the balcony.  Every seat was a good seat and really comfortable to sit in. I do not remember if we had candy or popcorn.  I remember that the movie was really long and I had to get up once to use the bathroom.  I was so disappointed because I had to miss a minute or two of the movie.

I remember seeing Lady and the Tramp.  It must have been a second release for this movie because it came out in 1955, the year that I was born.  It could have been near the 10th Anniversary of this movie also. 


I also remember seeing "The 101 Dalmatians".  It was first released in 1961 but I do not think that was when I saw it.  

As you can see, there is a trend forming here.  We went to see primarily Disney movies and usually one or two a year. Disney movies were extremely popular and kid friendly!

 Enjoy,  Jan

Week 9 of 2014 - Favorite Relative - Andrew Anderson

As a youngster, I would have to say that my Grandpa Anderson was my favorite.  He was the Grandparent that we spent the most time with.  He was older than my Smith Grandparents by about 20 years and retired by the time I was born.  His wife (my Grandmother) died a few months before I was born.  He came regularly  to our house and stayed with us.  He would drive to Romeo from Marine City.  He always stayed at least a few days but often a week.

Grandpa Anderson holding Sharon soon after she was born in 1960

 He must have slept on the couch but it is funny that I do not remember it.  You would think that I would remember waking up and finding him there in the morning but I don't.  He went on many vacations with us, first to the cabin on Lake Huron and eventually he would go on our camping trips with us. He always had his lawn chair and would sit with us at the beach and often take his afternoon nap.

Grandpa Anderson napping on the beach - 1959  

Camping in 1962 at Vanderbilt, Michigan
Every afternoon in the summer, he would sit on the church pew on our porch and before long all the neighborhood kids would come gather on the porch.  He would had out fruit stripe gums to all of us.  Once the kids realized that he was visiting, it would be a daily event.  He would open as many packages as he needed to give all the kids a piece.   It always amazed me when he opened a whole box full of gum.  It always seemed that when the gum was gone it was time for him to go home.

Grandpa convincing Sharon to eat her lunch - 1962

He always brought us treats from the bakery in Marine City.  He always brought a small yellow round loaf of bread.  It made the best toast in the morning.  I loved it.  I do not know it was egg bread or potato bread.  It was sweet and quickly became my favorite.  He always brought donuts or danish too.  He and Mom ate those with coffee.

Andrew at John and Benita's for his 83rd Birthday.
 I remember in about 1965 or 1966, he would have been 82 or 83 years old, he had an accident while driving back to Marine City.  He totaled his car.  He came to a T intersection in the road and he just did not stop.  Don't know if he fell asleep or what but he ran the stop sign and careened into a ditch after mowing down the arrow sign.  He did not drive after that.  He had a couple of small fender benders before that and that was just the last straw.  After that, Mom would go get him when she could but his visits were never as frequent.