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!



  1. Jan, Harriet's last name was Leonard. I am friend's with her SIL on FB. Want me to track her down for you? This same person would be Helen's sister. I know Pat is friends with Mark Dembowski. I so enjoy reading your memoirs!

  2. Hey, Jan...I can answer your question about the shop south of Morley was a cute little place called The Peppermint Stick (Gift Shop)...I think was the whole name. Mike and I couldn't come up with it, but Mom Semp (Gloria) remembered. Now we are trying to think of the woman's name that owned it. I forgot you were friends with Jane. We graduated with Mark Dembowski, but I don't think we were ever over at his house. I remembered it was Harriet Leonard, too. I went out on a date with her brother Chris...thought he was so cool. I remember we went to the Big Boy in Rochester. It was ok...but I didn't think we had much in common and he was better off with Penny Falk!!! I think about that date every time we go by the building (its now a Chinese restaurant) that we are in Rochester with the grandkids. FUN STUFF..thanks, Jan, for the memories! Pam