Last August, during the Daughters of Macomb 2009 festivities, I was so surprised to learn that I would be recognized as the Grand D.O.M. for this year’s celebration, because I thought I was too old to take on the responsibility. But here I am, still vertical at 93 years of age! And here’s a little bit of my story …
I was born March 25, 1917 in Woodstock, Ontario in my grandparent’s home. I was the youngest of four, with two older brothers, Randolph and John, and an older sister, Ethel. When I was very young, we moved to Detroit, and then north to Mt. Clemens, where the “air was cleaner”. I lived in three houses on Lincoln Ave. in Mt. Clemens, and went to Donaldson School, Macomb School for 6th grade, and then Jr. High and high school at the Mt. Clemens “Million Dollar” High School, graduating in 1935. On Saturdays, I could be found working for AI Hameister at the Kresge Dollar Store.
My interest in acting began at the age of 8 when my brother Randy was in the operetta The Mikado. When I was in the 6th grade, I was Gretel in the musical Hansel and Gretel. I enjoyed taking elocution lessons and was in many plays at my church during high school, while also having the female lead opposite class president Russ Bade at the high school. One night at play practice, it was so hot that we went up on the school roofto cool off. Someone dared me to climb up the school smoke stack … so I did! It was much cooler up there! As well as acting, I loved to dance and went to Friday after-school “Nickel Hops” where we had live music by the Brown Boys- Guy, Keith and Bruce Brown, I think. These dances were also called “Sock Hops”, and we could dance in our stocking feet. Being so short, though, I danced in my high heels!
After high school, I attended Albion College, and graduated from Michigan State in 1940. Following college, and after getting my naturalization papers, I returned to Mt. Clemens and taught 9th grade English at the high school, and Jr. High Home Economics.
I met my first husband, Ron Clarke, on a blind date at a Phi Delta Theta fraternity party at Michigan State, and we were married in 1942. Ron was an outstanding draftsman at Willow Run, but decided he wanted to be his own boss, so he bought the Children’s Shop from the Ginsburgs, a children’s apparel store on Macomb St. in downtown Mt. Clemens. We also opened another successful Clarke’s Children’s Shop in Utica. We lived on Moross Ave. for 15 years, and on Wellington Crescent, on the river, for 33 years. Ron and I had two children, Ron III and Merry Beth. We enjoyed traveling, and belonged to the Nomads, a travel club with its own plane. While we were on a week-end trip to the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, Ron died in his sleep of a heart _attack. What a shock! The Nomads and the U.S. Embassy got us home by way of Nassau.
Now … let’s flash-back to high school. While there, I dated a fellow student named Emory Weiss. We both belonged to the Glee Club and also enjoyed classical music. He played the violin in the school orchestra. He also made a bet with Russ Bade that he would marry me some day, and forty-some years later. .. he did!! A few years after Ron died, a mutual friend played matchmaker, and Emory and I eventually married. He had retired from General Motors and lived in Cheboygan where he was Concertmaster of the Playhouse Orchestra. He was also Concertmaster of the Mt. Clemens Symphony Orchestra for a number of years. We were married for 28 wonderful years.
Now, I live in a condo in Moravian Meadows and at 93, I still drive and am as active as a few health issues will allow. I continue to be active at the First United Methodist Church, where I’ve been a member since the doors opened in 1926, as well as at the former location, known as the Green Church, one block east on Cass Ave. Of course, I can’t forget to mention that I have six wonderful grandchildren, as well as six wonderful great-grandchildren! I’ve lived in Macomb County for most of my life, and I can’t think of a better place to be!