I was born February 5, 1924 on the Eastside of Detroit to parents Oscar and Winifred DeKay Prima. My mother was born and raised on Miller Street in Mount Clemens, and her grandfather, Sam DeKay was Macomb County Sheriff in 1898. I have one younger brother, Oscar “Ozzie” Prima. We resided in Detroit until 1936, when we moved to Mount Clemens to live in the very same home on Miller Street that my mother was born and raised in.
I attended Macomb School through 6th grade, and graduated from Mount Clemens High School in 1943. While in high school I worked at Miller Brothers Dairy and Bannow’s Drugs. I loved attending dances and still have many of my high school dance cards. It was dancing that led me to Harry Bates, the man I would marry in 1943.
Shortly after Harry and I married, he left to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After his return, we had three 1 / B children, Sandy, Harry Joseph III, and Micki. In 1947, we built our family home in Charbonneau Gardens in Clinton Township. The land we built our home on was formerly the farm land of Harry’s great, great-grandfather, and I still reside in that home today.
Together, Harry and I enjoyed raising our family, spending time with friends, and of course, dancing! You could often find us on the dance floor doing the jitterbug to our favorite big band music. Our children still talk about how they loved putting records on the hi-fi and clearing out the living room to have us dance for them.
My husband Harry was instrumental in establishing the AMVETS Post 29 in Mount Clemens, and I became active with volunteering my time to help veterans. I volunteered with the U.S.O. during World War II, and also sold war stamps. Today, I am part of the AMVETS Honor Guard and Son’s of AMVETS groups. I love to cook and knit, and I have found a way to utilize these passions to give back to others by baking my famous rolls for the AMVETS disabled Veterans luncheons, and knitting lap robes for hospitalized Veterans.
I have also given my time to various community groups including the Girls Scouts, Navy Mothers, St. Joseph Hospital Auxiliary, Mount Clemens High School Alumni Group, Bath City Festival, and the Mount Clemens Foundation playground renovations.
I worked for Bendex Corporation for 18 years and retired in 1973. I returned to work in 1980 when my daughter Micki opened Natures Accents in downtown Mount Clemens. I handled the book keeping, and also designed and sewed a line of handmade stuffed animals sold in the store. Harry was the delivery man and put his woodworking skills to use creating wood planters and accessories.
Harry and I both “officially” retired around 1990. We started spending our winters in Mesa, Arizona, and had 62 wonderful years together until Harry passed away in 2004.
Today, I am 87 years young, and have 8 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. I believe that staying physically and mentally active is the key to staying young. I still drive, make time to go out and socialize with my friends, and stay in touch with everyone through email and my laptop computer. I love calling Macomb County my home, and this truly is where my heart is and has always been.