I was born in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, on a Saturday night, about 9:30. My dad had to work that night. He worked for A.M. Smith company, a chicken and egg business. I was born in Ruth Love home, about a block and a half from our house on Broad street. I went home when I was about ten days old. Mothers were kept in the hospital that long.
There was no hot water. All the water for washing and bathing had to be heated on the gas stove. We had an ice box for the refrigerator. You put a card in the window about how many blocks of ice you wanted and the ice man came around. Got a gas-powered refrigerator in 1940. We bathed in a galvanized tub in the kitchen. We got soft water from a rain water cistern. There was a hand pump in the kitchen sink.
I slept in the dining room on a "day bed". We had wallpaper that had trees and a stream on it, and I had nightmares that a wolf was coming out of the trees and down the stream to get me. My sister Janice slept in a crib in my parents' bedroom. At one point they got a trundle bed, still in the dining room, and one of us slept on one part of the bed and the other on the part that pulls in and out.
We had one car, a 1937 Chevy until 1948, then we got a new car in 1948. We got a TV in 1951. There was a program in the morning, Happy Hank. The Chevy had pull up and down curtains, and it didn't have a heater. Sometimes we would wrap newspapers around us to be warm, coming back from visiting Papa's mother in Charlotte.
During the war, I can remember heavy green blackout curtains, and a siren would blow and everyone was supposed to pull their curtains down, and marshals would go around to make sure there was no light seeping. You had to have tokens to get sugar. I remember round red tokens. There were gas tokens too. When the war started, Papa had to work in a factory so he wouldn't have to go to war. They carpooled to Lansing. He was a pacifist and an only surviving son. During the war, I think B-52's went over the house a lot.
My mother says the first seven months after I was born, she had to wash diapers daily, and had to heat water. I remember the pails of water sitting on the stove. We didn't have a bathtub until I was eight or so years old. The first winter it was upside down in the back yard. I can remember hurrying home at noon or after school, getting leaves and twigs and trying to get a fire going under the bathtub.
My parents washed every other week. Papa did the laundry and hung them to dry. In the winter we had clotheslines strung through the house. We had milk delivery and mail delivery, and at Christmas time we'd get two mail deliveries a day. A city-owned snow plow would go around and plow all the sidewalks. All you had to do was shovel from your front door to your sidewalk.
There were the whistles at Horner Mills. There was a noon whistle, and a ten to one and then one o'clock, and then a six o'clock because that was the end of the work day. And the Methodist church chimes played from quarter to six to six o'clock. They played records and the music came out over speakers.
After the war, Papa came back and worked for Hanson Packing Company. I think they bought out A.M. Smith. He rode a bicycle to work. He worked there until it burned in 1951. It was a big deal when Hanson burned. Then Papa went north to work in Ovid, still for Hanson. We got a second car, a used Chevy 2-door, the only time Papa got a used vehicle. At Hanson Packing, Papa would drive around to the farms and pick up eggs, and sometimes Janice and I would go with him. We got the dog from up there, actually two dogs. Trixie was mine and Tippie was Janice's, and I had to give mine away. After a couple years Papa worked at Miller Dairy, making ice cream, and rode his bicycle again. He worked there until 1960-61, and then he started working at the hospital.
I was in grades 1 through 6 in the elementary school on King Street, and 7 through 12 in the high school. I was extremely shy. Somebody's mother said I was too shy to call my soul my own. I went to morning kindergarten. I liked school. When I went to first grade, I was so scared I went into the first door I came to, the wrong room.
When Janice started kindergarten, Ma went back to work, doing bookkeeping at the doctor's office.
It was my responsibility to get my sister to school, and she always waited outside my classroom and we walked home together -- one block. She was two years behind me.
Second grade, I remember about brushing teeth. The teacher asked how many of you brush up and down and I was the only one who raised my hand. When I was in the third grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Tucker, and she was real stern, but I could see a twinkle in her eye, so I wasn't afraid of her. I got glasses between second and third grade.
I was in the first reading group, out of four or five. The teachers read stories to us the first fifteen minutes of class, at least through the fourth grade, and my mother had such a huge book collection, often the books from her collection were read in class.
When I went to third grade Janice was in first grade. At recess, all these first graders wanted to walk around and hold hands with me. I was like another teacher. I was very quiet and Janice was always getting into trouble. And then we got the dog, and the fighting stopped. For the first time we knew unconditional love.
All I did was read books. I read the Rex Stout series. They called me Granny. I'd spend a lot of time on the toilet because that was the best light for reading. I'd go to the library and get books. There were those biographies, the orange books from school libraries. They were about famous Americans. And then I read a lot of books by Lois Lensky. And lots of comic books.
I had a bicycle, a big thing with skinny tires. Everybody else had fat tires. So I got used to being different being okay. Used to take a clothes pin and clip a card so it would click when you rode it.
I had all these fun things I did with myself. I had a dollhouse but that was too restricting. So I used little plastic fences to make rooms on the floor of the living room. I had little pieces of plastic furniture, so I made different room designs with the plastic furniture using the fence for walls, made different house plans.
My sister and I would play Monopoly, but it was wrong to win, so when one of us got close to winning, we would do something to lose so the game could continue. The same game would go on for weeks, until we just quit.
Did things with a neighbor girl, Darlene Smith. We would play cards and she would use the reflection from my glasses to see what cards I had. Her parents owned the G.E. store, and she had a television in 1948, real early.
I used to go down to the athletic field, and go to the snake pit. If you followed the path along the river, you went into some shrubbery, and if you kept going there was a square of concrete, and right in the middle of the square of concrete there was a square opening. And you could crawl down in there and there would be snakes. Garter snakes. Darlene and I had a snake collection once, and we might have had 52 snakes. And if you kept going you could get up on the railroad tracks and cross the river. That was always scary.
When I was about ten years old, there was a thunderstorm, and it was hailing. The hailstones were about the size of walnuts, so I got the bright idea of collecting hailstones. I got a metal colander, and reached out the back door to collect some. A bolt of lightning hit the colander. I dropped it and ended up with a blister on one of my fingers.
Fourth grade was Mrs. Matson. She also taught knitting classes, and I went to her house and she taught me to knit.
Sixth grade I had my first male teacher, Mr. Letts. Kids who misbehaved got a tunk on the head, and if you really misbehaved you'd get a dutch rub. I think Mr. Letts threw Claude Raleigh down a flight of stairs. We had assembly once a month. Mr. Letts was German and we learned Silent Night in German to present at the assembly.
I was taller than everyone else. At another assembly we all had flashlights with caps on them, and made a Christmas tree. I was at the top of the tree and I lost the cap of the flashlight. Everyone else had red and green and I had that bare white one.
In seventh grade, that's when I got thin. I stopped going home for lunch and went downtown to Caterino's and had a pop for lunch. At home I would eat two hamburger sandwiches for supper, and I would dunk them in milk. Ma gave us 5 dollars a week allowance, and out of that we had to buy everything, clothes, books, meals.
Ma cooked on Sunday, usually chicken, and mashed potatoes and gravy and a vegetable. Papa brought the chickens home from work. Then we had leftovers all week until the chicken was gone. And then we had hamburger sandwiches. Once in a while she'd make chili. And if Papa went fishing we ate fish. Papa always cooked the fish. On the weekend he would make his special pancakes, mix up a bunch of flours and throw in some vanilla. For me it was just an excuse to eat butter.
In sixth or seventh grade, I'd walk to school and Bruce Conard would hide behind a tree and take my shoes, and I'd have to walk to school in stocking feet. I was later engaged to him for a little while. I helped him get through 10th grade biology and 11th grade English. I let him look at my papers and cheat.
I played the alto saxophone in 7th and 8th grade, because that was the only way to get out of gym, and I hated gym. Janice and I took piano lessons for a while too, in fourth or fifth grade, with Mrs. Cosgrove.
When I was in 8th or 9th grade, I got into this fraternal organization, Theta Rho, a young woman's section of the Rebeccas and the Oddfellows. The Oddfellows were the men, the Rebeccas were the women, and Theta Rho was the young women. I was popular enough by then to be elected two different times to be the recording secretary. The next year I was supposed to be the vice president and move up to president. I didn't want to do that so I left Theta Rho.
I love to dance. And in high school, this woman taught ballroom dancing in her house. I learned the Fox Trot, and everything I've done since has been some variation of the Fox Trot. Every Friday at noon they turned the lights off and we had dancing in the gym. Girls would dance together, and girls would dance with boys, but boys would never dance together. You never asked a boy to dance. You always waited for a boy to ask you.
Every Saturday night there was a place downtown over the library called the Canteen. They had a room that had pool tables, and a room where you danced and someone came in and played records. We'd go to the Canteen and walk up and down Main street.
Blacks were not allowed to live inside the city limits. We had two black families, the Goins, who were pretty much losers, and the Pointers. They were quality. The father was a stonemason and the girls were smart.
Mischievous stuff. Pam came into my life when I was 11, in the sixth grade. We started window-peeking, and going into vacant houses. The woman across the street, Maureen Commonal, had a boyfriend. We snuck up on her porch, through the screen door, and looked into the window. They were sitting on the couch and he had his hand way up her leg. She was kind of mean and nasty. We wanted to put limburger cheese on her motor but we couldn't find any, so we cut a musk melon open and put it under the front seat of her car. And then one noon in the summer, we knew that the neighbors kitty-corner from Aunt Bessie had a garden and one watermelon. We took it and dropped it in the middle of Broad Street. So we went back into Aunt Bessie's unmowed area and sat and ate it.
Bentley's Ice Cream was right next door, and we used to hide on the porch swing, and call out names to people as they went in and out of Bentley's, in the dark.
Gary Antcliff had a Jeep and Pam was going with Gary Antcliff. I'm not sure what we did but the cop would chase us out of town, and stop at the city limits. We'd go down Spicerville road and come back into town through the cemetery, and dink around after dark in the cemetery.
There was Maggie Bromling's big old stone house. She was a socialite who had moved out of town. To get to the house we had to go downtown and across the island. For us that was across town. We'd see it over there and it was so enticing. It looked like a big castle to us. And we figured out we could get into the basement. As we were going in, a bat flew out, and we all dashed out.
When there was a partial solar eclipse, around 1953, Pam and I rode our bikes out of town to our cousin Annie's house, found a hill up from her house, and watched the eclipse through smoked glass. I took a photo but it's tiny.
For fun, we'd take the car, drive to Lansing, and we'd do what we call "cuttin the gut". Cruising, up and down Washington Avenue. We'd get fifty cents worth of gas. You'd never fill up the tank.
On my sixteenth birthday, I got my driver's licence in the morning and drove to Pine Lake Olivet in the afternoon. Papa used to let us sit next to him and steer. One time, I wanted to go straight and Papa was going to turn, so I reached over and put my foot on the gas. He got mad at me!
In 9th or 10th grade I dated Danny Parsons. We used to go the drive in on dates, and smooch. In 10th grade, Danny and I, Betty Crow, and Justin Converse, skipped school one Thursday afternoon and went to my house, playing music and talking. My mother drove in, and we dashed upstairs to my bedroom to hide. We left the radio going and there was a footprint on the rug. She thought someone was in the house and locked the stair door. We had to wait until kids got out of school, and shouted out the window, "Come in and unlock the door!"
Once Gary Oade and Bruce and Jimbo snuck into the principal's office and stole final exams. They called them all in. Jimbo and big Oade stood tall, and Bruce ratted them out.
When I was in school, I wanted to get out of Eaton Rapids, so I wanted to be sure and go to college. I was scared to go to Michigan State because it was too big. So everybody wrote letters and I got into Albion college. In high school out of 100 people I was number 17 academically.
When I was between my junior and senior year, the new hospital opened. Ma was up there as the hotshot head of the business office. That's why I had to get out of town, because all my life I was Mary Jordan's daughter. I wanted to be my own person. Ed McRee was the new administrator, and he needed someone to work in the lab, so he asked my mother if I'd be interested, and I started working in the lab that summer. I was doing venipunctures, running lab tests.
Up until then I'd planned to go into nursing, so I had a major decision to make. The first semester of my senior year, I saw some data which said that you needed a higher IQ to be a med tech than to be a nurse. I knew my IQ was about 130 and that I would get bored with nursing. Being a med tech would give me the challenge I needed to feel good.
My senior year I went to school in the morning, and then went to the lab and worked at the hospital afternoons. I'd work weekends, help in X-ray, do runs to Lansing to the pathologist's office, answer the phone. Sometimes I wouldn't get home until 10 or 11 and be up until 2 or 3 doing homework. So when I went to college it was easier than my senior year of high school.
I started college in fall, 1958, at Albion college, about 20 miles from Eaton Rapids. There wasn't room in the dorm for everybody so I had to live in a nearby house. Almost everybody had two to a room. I was in a room with three other women, so there were four. It was a bigger room with nice windows.
Albion was tough. I studied hard. English, French, chemistry, botany first semester, second semester was zoology. In chemistry, Dr. Carnell said, half of you will be gone when second semester starts. I was still there, by the skin of my teeth. It was a strict grading, 60-70-80-90. I missed an A in botany because I misidentified poison ivy on the final.
I made a few friends. Some of them lingered into after-college years. Second semester I went home with my friend Liz to Russiaville Indiana and met her classmate Jerry Davis. We kind of hit it off, and he wanted me to transfer down to Purdue to be with him. So if you're going to transfer, you've got to have a C average. My problem was chemistry. I was home talking to father, and he worked with a guy who was also going to Albion, Rex Harkness, and he tutored me. And I talked a lot to the professor, how I needed to pass this to transfer. I think she gave me a C- instead of a D+.
Second semester there was room in the dorm, so I moved into the dorm. And a woman I was acquainted with, Barbara Hoffa, was Jimmy Hoffa's daughter. She was a very pleasant regular person. She had her own room, which meant she paid a lot, and it was nicely decorated. She was in the sorority I probably would have pledged. You didn't pledge until your sophomore year. There was no social life at Albion unless you were in a sorority or a fraternity. In the dorms the men were separated from the women, and the parties were in the Greek system.
My daddy was making ice cream, and when people couldn't eat their ice cream, I ate their ice cream. They made a score card on my wall, and I got up to 52 bowls of ice cream.
Everybody complained about dorm food. I had never had it so good. These people mostly came from wealthy Detroit families. I didn't know opera, I had never been to the theater. These people had done all these things, traveled, ridden horses, owned horses. I was outclassed.
Three times a week we had to go to chapel for half an hour. They took attendance! If you were going to miss chapel you needed a written excuse. Most of us used that time to write letters and things. If I went to church on Sunday, I would walk many many blocks in spiked heels. So it's no wonder I had foot problems. And if we didn't go to church, we'd say we went to Saint Mattress.
I loved Purdue. It was so much easier than Albion. I worked awful to get a C+ average at Albion, and I played at Purdue and got a B+ average. There were four and a half men to every woman. Sometimes I would cross campus and never see another female. It was an engineering school then.
I became friends with one of the busboys, and they would play music at dinner. If the kitchen staff wanted to get out early, they played this one particular fast tune, and cleared the dining room 15 minutes faster.
At Purdue, often, we would find little boxes of cigarettes at each table setting. I never smoked. I gave them to one of the girls on the floor that smoked.
This was election year. In spring of 1960, John F. Kennedy came through, and his motorcade stopped by the co-rec gym right in front of hall X, and I happened to be close to the front, and he touched my hand.
Jerry Davis's dad died, so he'd go home every weekend to help with the farming, and he was screwing around with a local chick and I happened to find out about it. So that was the end of that.
So I left Purdue, and got hooked up with a med tech intership in Lafayette, at Saint Elizabeth's hospital. The semester ended in June, and I moved across town and started July 1, 1960, a 12 month internship.
There were two of us that started then, my friend Jan and I. We were roommates. It was a Catholic hospital. We lived in Marion house, and we lived in the garret, in the attic. We would hear cockroaches scrambling in the floor. That summer it was so hot, we laid on the bed (we had to share a double bed) and Jan put on a Johnny Mathis Christmas album.
Because I was adept at venipunctures, the hospital hired me, even though I was a student, to do morning blood collections for the lab. I got five dollars a morning. That was a lot of money. I had to have everything collected before 8 o'clock so I started before 7. I was in and out of a room in two and a half minutes. And people would say "When are you going to get going with that?" and I would say "I'm nearly done."
So they tore Marion house down, so Jan and I, all of us had to move. They put Jan and me in the "extern" apartments. Externs are through with med school but they're not interns yet. Jan and I had a small bedroom with a double bed again. We shared this with Mrs. Walkee and her manx cat.
So I finished my year, and I took the ASCP (American Society of Clinical Pathologists) exam on my 21st birthday. I took that in the morning, and then my boyfriend Phil took me to Indianapolis for a special dinner at the King Cole restaurant. I'd never eaten at a nice restaurant like that.
During my internship, I had communicated with Ingham Medical Hospital in Lansing, and they hired me as a med tech. I might have started there July first and then driven back to Lafayette for the exam. They would have hired me at Saint Elizabeth (we called it St. E's) for $300, with a raise to $325 when I passed the exam. I started at Ingham Medical at $400 or $425 a month.
Ingham Medical had just been converted from a tuberculosis sanitarium to a general hospital. I got a room on the third floor. Floors one and two were patients, and the third floor they rented out to people who worked there. I think I paid $40 a month for the room.
I bought my first car, a 1961 red chevy convertible. Made to order from the factory. Paid $3000 for it. It was a stick shift with overdrive, and you had to engage the overdrive. You had to push a lever in. I had double antennas on the back. We got paid twice a month and it took one of my paychecks for my car payment.
Phil Clements was a person I started dating at Purdue. I would go down to either Indianapolis where he was at medical school or to his parents' cottage on Shafer Lake. We took the boat across Shafer Lake to this little bar and Louis Armstrong was there, and we danced live to Louis Armstrong. What I remember most is the big indent on his lip from the mouthpiece of his instrument. That would have been summer of 1961.
We lost track of each other when he left to do his military duty. And then that year I met Harry Scott, and started running with the black folks on the west side of Lansing. Harry became a tech in the lab, and we got together and had some wild times. We dated and we broke up and we dated and we broke up. He was not monogamous and I expected monogamy.
Lansing is still racist. I walked out the front door of my duplex and there was a doll on the porch, with the arms and legs and head removed. And I got harrassing phone calls.
Then we had a cleaning out of personnel, because there were so many people incompetent, and I was made head of the lab. And that made Scott mad because he thought he should be made head tech. But he wasn't eligible because he wasn't ASCP certified. So things got rough in the lab. I was young, I didn't have management experience, and Harry Scott made life difficult.
My friend Joyce across the hall in the lab had gone out to Michigan State, and she had learned that there was going to be an opening in bacteriology. So she talked to some people and I went out for the interview, and John Newman said that I would probably work out because I seemed to be a follower and not a leader, and I would not be in competition with Marian Bennett, the head of the lab.
So I quit, in January of 1965, and got a job at Michigan State, doing veterinary microbiology. This whole time I had been taking classes there. I took biochemistry three times. I got a D the first time, so I took it a second time and got an F! So I took it a third time. I went in to see the professor and he tutored me. When I took the exam, some of the questions were familiar. On Tuesday night he had been giving me the test I would take on Wednesday, and I still only got a B.
I loved doing veterinary microbiology. I was routinely isolating organisms that I had only read about, because animals get diseases that humans don't get. I was one of the first to isolate a new brucella species. CDC finally named it Brucella Abortus. It was causing abortions in dogs.
When I left the hospital, I was making $600 a month, and the pathologist would have paid me $650 a month to keep me. At Michigan State I started at $400. But I'd seen so much stuff at the hospital, my faith in human nature was just screwed up. It took me about a year at Michigan State before I started having faith that there were some straight shooters in this world.
In September of 1961 I moved into a little apartment in East Lansing. I had a big window that looked at a brick wall, and a tiny window that looked out the bathroom into a parking lot. So I lived there from September of 61 until probably June of 62, and then I moved to the south side of Lansing. It was a lot closer to the hospital. In Summer of 1964 I moved to a wonderful little brick house on West Saginaw, and I got a dog, Coco. Also in summer of 1964 I traded the 61 Chevy for a new 64 Pontiac Catalina.
I was having my hair done regularly. Bruce who worked in the hair salon (not gay) and his friend got me involved with the John Birch Society. I went to a couple meetings, but it seemed tedious and extreme, and didn't make a lot of sense. In the 1964 election I voted for Barry Goldwater.
After I was at West Saginaw, and had started working at Michigan State, I was having trouble financially, because I took a huge cut in pay and had car payments and rent. So one of the women at Michigan State in the lab was Marcia Marshall. So she moved in with me as a roommate and paid rent to help with my finances.
In June or July of 1965, I bought a house in East Lansing, on Greenfield Parkway. I bought it for probably $17,500. Marcia got her own apartment.
So I had good times, went places and did things. And in February of 1966, I had my first date with David Prieur. He had been coming to the lab to bring specimens around, and we would have donuts and talk. So I started saving a donut for him. He asked me to a vet school party, and he brought a fifth of Jim Beam and it just fit into my purse. They served rocky mountain oysters, and they thought it was a big deal that I was eating them.
So David and I dated. On weekends we would go to Eaton Rapids and play 500 with Janice and Jerry, or we would go to the cottage at the lake. One time we were in the front bedroom and we were going to take a nap. And David got this idea. We started bouncing on the bed to make the bed springs squeak. I am 26 years old, and my mother came and opened the door, and we were laying there fully clothed, like we were fast asleep.
We got married in November of 1966. Marcia and Janice were my attendants at the wedding. Went to the Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit, which is really a big deal. Then we took a trip to Canada and came back, walked into the house, there were clotheslines strung all over the place, and lipstick writing on all the mirrors. Labels had been removed from cans in the pantry, and furniture was moved around. Marcia had unhooked a basement window, and then after the wedding, David's brothers Mike and Felix got into the house and did all that stuff.
That was the winter of the horrific snow in Lansing. We opened the garage door and all we could see was a wall of snow. Students were jumping out of dorm windows into the snow and not hurting themselves. There were still snow piles when we left in July.
In the spring of 1966 David got his DVM from Michigan State, and started a master's program. He got his Masters degree in pathology in June of 1967. He found that he could get a grant to go to Washington State for his PhD. And then in July he headed for Pullman. We stored furniture at mother and daddy Prieur's house, packed the Pontiac, and headed west.
The hottest summer on record, we didn't have AC in the car, and I was seven months pregnant. We did a little sightseeing along the way. Mount Rushmore had not been "improved" and it was majestic. We got into Spokane, spent the night, went out to the airport and watched the planes land.
Then in the morning we started south. The farther south we got, the fewer trees there were. I thought that was the most godforsaken place. I wanted to live in terrace apartments, where you could go outside and step on grass, but instead they assigned us to more crowded buildings. We were in a top floor apartment, no AC, hottest summer on record. I had no vehicle, so I was stuck.
Ran was born on a Tuesday. I'd been in labor since early that morning, and we were watching Garrison's Gorillas. So we went to the hospital. After Ran was born, he cried and cried all night. I went to Dr. Sato and said "How long do these nighttime fussy spells last?" He was surprised that was still going on, and said to crush up half a vitamin B6 tablet into Ran's food every day. At 48 hours, the fussy spells were gone.
I was so miserable in those apartments, so in spring of 1968 we found the grey house on Windus. I loved the grey house except that it was tiny, smaller than the apartment. The biggest flat spot was the double bed. But we could get outdoors on the grass with just a few steps.
Winter of 1968-69 there was a huge snowfall, and it got down to 50 below. There was ice on both sides of the windows. The snow protected the plants from damage. David couldn't park the car in the driveway. He parked up on the next street, and he kept walking up there to see if the radiator fluid was freezing. Finally he got a spoonful of radiator fluid and put it outside the back door. The pipes froze, and the landlord came and thawed them out.
That December we went over into Idaho to cut a Christmas tree. The previous year we had one that David called "the outdoor tree" because you could see the outdoors through it.
The day Sheila was born I went to church, that old grey stone church. I didn't kneel or stand, I just sat in the pew. We got to the hospital about 2:30, and the nurse asked me how far apart were my pains. I said I hadn't had any yet and she rolled her eyes. They put me to bed, and she comes in a few minutes later and I'm having a labor pain. Again she comes back, and says "Oh, another one already," and I said, "No, it's the same one." They rush me to the delivery room, and Sheila is born before 3:00.
Then the bells and buzzers started and people were rushing in and out because I was bleeding and they couldn't get it stopped. David knew it wasn't the baby because the baby was crying, but they didn't tell him what was going on. They gave me two pints of blood, and I might have bled to death if Devlin hadn't been so competent. They told me it would be dangerous to have more children.
We were in the grey house for Sheila's first birthday, and then in spring of 1970 we moved down to the green house. When Sheila started to walk the grey house got much too small. It was my first experience with moving in after somebody who kept the place neat. But then after living there we learned that the place was filthy -- it only looked neat. After that I was no longer fooled by superficial neatness.
The front door wouldn't stay latched. It would open in the night, and I'd have to keep getting up to shut it. One night I got mad and slammed it. A screw fell out, and it worked after that.
Sheila slept in the living room and Ran slept in a skinny little room that used to be a side porch. There was a little oil-burning space heater, and when it was running the dining room would get up over 100 degrees. We were afraid the paneling might ignite so we shut it off when we went to bed.
The house was poorly insulated. The wind came right through the windows. At the end of the kitchen there was a room that we closed off. I sewed some diapers into a curtain to keep the cold out.
Ran would always play quietly, stay a long time at an activity. Sheila was always into stuff, always up to something. She'd get in the cupboard and pull the pans out. She'd take the clothes out of the basket and throw them around. She climbed up on the dresser, and in the closet. She pulled Ran along with her. Whenever the kids got quiet, I got suspicious.
I was unhappy, stuck in Pullman, that crappy house, I didn't get to go any place, David was never there. Devlin knew I was depressed, and he talked to Sue Milavia, the head tech at Pullman Memorial Hospital, and suggested she call me. I worked weekends and relief so Sue could have time off.
We had a feral mother cat under the house. She had her kittens underneath the bathtub. Sheila managed to get those kittens. She brought two of them into the house once. When we got ready to leave Pullman, we were concerned about the feral cat just littering and littering. So we found a woman at the hospital who lived in the country. Her name was Dorcas. So Jack Dollhausen made a cage to capture the mother cat.
In the green house we were sick almost all the time. David talked to Ardell, the cleaning woman at the vet school, and she suggested boiling the water, and then we were no longer sick. Later we found out there was a break in the water meter and the ground bacteria were getting in.
Your dad was finishing his PhD in pathology, and he was offered a position at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda Maryland. In June of 1971, we rented a 5x12 U-Haul trailer, hooked it behind the 1964 Pontiac Catalina, and the kids and I and my mother headed east. I had gone to White Elephant in Spokane and had gotten a different gift for each of the kids for every day we'd be on the road.
I had never pulled a trailer, so David drove us down the Lewiston grade, because I was afraid. I don't know how he got back. I drove from there, but I had to park so I could always pull forward because I couldn't back it up. From Lewiston we took Hwy 12 to Missoula, through Rapid City and Chicago to Michigan.
Someplace in there we bought a Volkswagen camper bus. In early July, David left Pullman on a Tuesday and pulled into Eaton Rapids on Friday night, drove almost straight. So then we rented a U-haul truck, and went up to Chesaning and unloaded all our furniture that had been in storage for four years, and drove to Maryland. Evie and Felix helped us move.
We got the trucks unloaded on a Thursday, and on Friday David went into the lab. Over the weekend Nixon put a federal hiring freeze on, and if he had waited until Monday, he wouldn't have had a job!
I don't remember how we found the townhouse on Azalea Street. We lived there for six months. The water was so chlorinated! And I didn't want us drinking that stuff, so I sat water in bowls on the counter and stirred it for a couple days. Then I'd boil it, and we'd drink it.
We went house-hunting. The real estate agents had 4x6 cards with a picture of the house, and the back listed the amenities. The house on Hi-Wood didn't look like much, but David saw something. It looked small on the outside, but it was big. We paid $42,500 for it. It was on a private road, 13 houses, three quarters of an acre, a pond in the back yard, and seven acres of woods behind it. We had drinkable well water, and city sewer.
I hadn't wanted to go to Maryland. I had thought DC was going to be awful. But I loved it. The neighbors were really friendly. It was easy to get out and do things. Often we went down to the museums. I liked the anonymity. Winters weren't hard. We had air conditioning for the summers, set at 78.
I took a single-knit sewing class, and I made lots of t-shirts and t-shirt dresses. The summer of the Watergate hearings was great. I set up the television downstairs and watched Watergate and drank lemonade and sewed. I found somebody who sold fabric by the bolt so I went out and bought bolts of fabric. It was really cheap. I made drapes for the windows, and bedspreads to match the drapes.
I did volunteer work, and applied for a job at Sibley Hospital, where all the senators went. I think I didn't get the job because I was not professionally dressed. I didn't have any professional clothes in my closet. And appearances were important there.
I'd make letter pancakes for the kids for breakfast, and animals. Whatever they wanted I'd try to make it into a pancake.
One hot summer there was a lot of electric draw because of the AC's running, and we had two or three brown-outs. The lights were on but they were really dim.
In June of 1972, Hurricane Agnes went through. Out the front window you couldn't even see the trees, there was so much rain. The basement started filling up with water, so David and I were down there with sump pump, sweeping the water out the basement doorwell and then pumping it up into the yard. The pump was electric, and we were worried the electricity would go out.
In November of 1972, right after Thanksgiving, I got sick with the flu. I was too sick to go to the doctor and your dad wouldn't take me. So Nora Davidson, a neighbor, took me to the doctor. The nurse read my temperature, and she'd no sooner gone out the door than a doctor was right in there. My fever was 105. So I took Tylenol for the fever, and Triaminic for the cough, and stayed in bed. They said to keep the covers the same, whether you're sweating or whether you're freezing.
I still had to do the cooking and the laundry. I would walk Ran to the bus and then at noon Sheila would go out to the bus to walk him home. It was March before I felt better.
Sheila had a severe speech problem. Her pediatrician referred her to Easter Seals. They tested her and she qualified as Stage 2, which meant she was smart and balanced, but had trouble with articulation. They paid for everything. I had to drive her out for speech therapy, and she had to go to a special nursery school, Milliam Methodist the first year, and the second year a closer nursery school.
David Young was one of David's friends at work, and his wife Rilla taught me to crochet. I couldn't learn from my mother -- she had too many rules. And I loved to crochet.
One winter it was really snowy. David was in the carpool with Young and things got kind of testy, so Young got out and ran to work. He got there about an hour sooner than the carpool did!
In that same storm, Ran and Sheila and Ruth Davidson went out to play in the snow. I couldn't find them so I thought, they must be back in the woods. And I found this little gingerbread house, log-cabiny thing, and I thought, "Someone has cooked and eaten my children!" I didn't even know that house was back there. I knocked at the door and they were in there having cookies and hot chocolate.
There was a gas shortage. David would get up early, he'd get one car full, he'd come home, have a little breakfast, and go get in line with the other car. It took him essentially all day to get both cars filled with gas.
David was working at the National Cancer Institute, and they wouldn't let him have space for lab animals, so we sealed off a space in the basement with heavy plastic, and he had cages of rabbits.
He and Young turned in a research report on a potential cancer drug to be used in children, and they found that it was seriously toxic and would destroy their bones. And their supervisor gave it back to them and told them to rewrite it to downplay the toxic side effects. This was the precipitating event that caused both of them to start seeking other employment.
So we had to sell the house. And it sat there and didn't sell. Then all of a sudden we got two offers. The Murphys made an offer, contingent upon the well passing inspection. The guy came to inspect the well, and I went out and talked with him, and learned that it did not pass inspection. So the Murphys got the report, but never communicated with us about it. The Browns came along and loved the house. They would take it just like it was, so they put in a second contract that would go into effect if the first one fell through. So when we didn't hear from the Murphys, we wrote them a letter saying we deemed their contract null and void because the well hadn't passed. Then we went across the district line and signed the contract with the Browns.
Then the Murphys sued us for breach of contract! So I went into Rockville and had a chat with an attorney, Bob Bullard, and he said, this is serious. So I called David at work and he came to the lawyer's office. Bullard asked where we were moving, and he said Washington state, and we could see the relief. He said, get out of town as soon as you can!
So we packed up stuff and went and stayed with the Bradys. They had been neighbors on Hi-Wood and later moved. Early the next morning, David got up before dawn and drove the Pontiac, towing the Volkswagen. We stayed at Bradys a few more nights and then got tickets to fly away. I remember telling the kids, "If you hear our name over the loudspeaker, pretend that's not our name and keep right on going."
In Pullman, we lived in West Wynn apartments, and looked for a house to buy. It cost us 25 cents a pound to have our stuff moved, and that was how we decided what was worth taking. The mover left off our furniture, and some time later we learned that he took the cash we gave him and dumped his truck and disappeared!
There just weren't any houses for sale in Pullman that summer. We saw this one on Kamiaken, we went right to the office, and wrote our contract. The owner of the agency, Finch, had shown it to some other people before us, and they were writing a contract at the same time. But they only offered $42,000 instead of $42,500 which was the asking price.
The people who sold the house were the Hatfields. He came home on a Friday, told his wife he wanted a divorce. We looked at it the following Tuesday, and it was like they'd been getting the house ready to sell, it was so immaculate. If she'd been a little more human, and not so uptight about her house, her husband might not have found his little sweetie.
We might have moved into that house the first of August, 1974. Brian Gollnick was at the door to walk Sheila to school on the first day of kindergarten.
I was at a loss staying home, so I decided I wanted a nine month part time job. In April of 1975, Chris Hough-Chaffins saw an ad on a WSU bulletin board for a position in the chemistry department. I got the interview. I went into this room and there was a conference table there with five or six people sitting around it. I said, "I suppose you want me to take the hot seat." And they asked me a bunch of questions. One of them made me so angry I just sat there thinking about how to answer it. It was an illegal question: "What does your husband do?" And I finally said, "He does research." I got the job. Probably because I had lab experience, and possibly because of the way I handled the interview.
I was setting up demonstrations, showing principles of chemistry reactions for first year chemistry students. I'd go to work from 9-1, had time off when the students were gone. I offered to change my hours so I'd be there when Sheila got home from school, but Sheila wanted to fix her own lunch!
I picked up a Chem 101 exam, and sat and answered the questions, and was shocked at how simple it was. I'd got through every chemistry course by the skin of my teeth, and I'd been away from it for years, and I still sat down and clicked right through it.
We were reacquainted with Ben and Jane Archer. Your dad and Ben shared an office when they were graduate students. Sandra and Ken Meyers were still there. Your dad and Ken used to play handball when they were graduate students. We reconnected with Anita McGuire.
It was the fall of 1977 that Crosby taught the chemistry course. He had high expectations! I did not have the background to do what he wanted done, so he brought Leonard Henscheid in to work with me. Leonard is like the older brother I never had. So that was a fun but difficult year, and often times I was there full-time.
This was about the time I started walking to work and then home again. I'd go home and drink a little wine while I was making supper, we'd finish it at supper, and after supper we'd open a second bottle. I'd eat my meal and clean up what the kids didn't eat. I got up to 148 pounds, so I started walking.
After Carol and Clive Gay came to town, your dad and I got into wine tasting. Clive and us, Paul Anderson, and a few others. We would go to the Yakima river valley on wine-buying trips with Andy and Jolanta Kleinhofs. We went to the winter wine fair in Pasco at the Red Lion two or three times. You paid $15, and got a wine glass, and walked into this huge banquet room where local wineries had set up tables and were pouring their wines. It's not like that anymore.
It was at Mardi Gras time and people wore costumes. One time I dressed up as Boy George. We met governor Spellman there. One year I crossed paths and thought, "Who does she look like?" She went by me again and I thought, "That looks like Mary Jane Jaggers." So I went up to her and I said, "I think I know you. I think you're Mary Jane Jaggers, and we graduated together. I was Marilyn Jordan." And it was, and we talked, and they came and interviewed us and put us on local TV.
It was in the fall of 1977, when I was working with Crosby, that I got interested in black and white photography, and learned that I do have an artful side. I took two different photography classes at WSU. In the spring of 1978, I had both kids' classes up to the chemistry department, and Leonard and I put on some demonstrations for you.
The kids and I had started going to Michigan for five weeks every summer. And I started saving the money that I earned working, setting it aside, and we would alternate between the Washington coast and the Oregon coast, Moclips or Yachats. At that time in Yachats there were still starfish all over, and anemones.
It was berry season in Michigan, and there were all these berries. I was at the farm with all the kids, making these pies. Every time I would roll, the pie crust would tear and end up on the rolling pan. Finally I just started putting the strips into the pans and pushing the edges together to seal them. I laid strips together on the top crust too, and it was really ugly. Janice always had beautiful pie crusts. And the boys didn't want to eat the pies because they looked so ugly. So I said this is like the hippies. Just because they look straggled on the outside, they're still good inside. So the boys are still remembering Aunt Marilyn's hippie pies.
Travis and Anita had gone to Kenya, and we were writing regularly, and she encouraged me to come for a visit. That would have been spring of 1977. At the last minute, Carla Kalasz decided to come with me. We flew from Spokane to Seattle, and probably Seattle to Heathrow, and then to Rome. We got on a bus and went into Rome, went to the Colosseum, saw St. Peter's. Then we got on the plane to Nairobi.
We went on some safaris. I took lots and lots of pictures. Anita lauded me for being a class-A bargainer. We went into a store in Nairobi, and Anita said ahead of time, "They don't bargain here." We walked around and looked at stuff, and the proprietor came up to me as we were leaving, and wondered how much I wanted for my purse. It was a blue cloth bag, snapped shut, that I had bought for $5 at JC Penney. So I told her I'd come back and decide what I wanted in trade. So I picked out three things, costing less, more, and most. And the most was a wonderful carpet, a beige woven carpet. And of course when I went in I started with the top thing I would take, and she said yes! I got a sheepskin from a vendor along the road for 50 shillings.
On one of our trips, there was a roadblock. A crash was blocking both lanes. So pretty soon, these crazy drivers were pulling up beside us. Some drivers were going around the crash and getting stuck in the marsh.
In 1980, David and I were separated. I was feeling so tied up that I wanted to see if I could be independent again. And we weren't getting along. When I heard the garage door opening, I would be filled with anxiety, because I didn't know what mood he was going to be in when he walked in that door. And it was rarely pleasant. So let's just try living separately, and see if that helps.
He moved into an apartment early in the year, and moved back to Kamiaken by Christmas. And then when he came back, we started having division of labor. I had been doing the cooking, the grocery shopping, the laundry, taking care of both cars, doing David's Current Contents, requesting reprints of articles. I took the garbage out, shoveled the driveway, watered the lawn, pruned the shrubs. I was doing everything except going to work. I had also been responsible for getting the kids to Sunday school. I said, if you want them to go, you take them.
He got to pick what his chores would be, and he said he'd do grocery shopping, and he'd cook one night a week. The kids each cooked once, David cooked once, I cooked twice, we had leftovers, and we went out to eat. I no longer had to do Current Contents, and he'd iron his own shirts.
Also in 1980, Glenn Crosby was going to teach chem 105 again, the class with the demonstrations. And he was so demanding, and so dangerous, I decided I did not want to go through a year of that again. Blows things up, toxic gases leaking. One time the lecture hall was full of hydrogen sulfide and Jane Crosby at the top of the lecture hall said "You've got something leaking down there."
I heard about a microbiologist 1 position in the vet school. This was maybe October of 1980. David and I talked about it, and he didn't see a problem. It was in the bacteriology-serology section of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL). I interviewed, and started working pretty much immediately. That was full time, and I was back doing work in my own field. Once again I had a job I would have paid to do. But then things always change. Roger Breeze became chairman, and started playing musical labs. I was moved to the virology-microbiology section hallway. There was lots of infighting and tension among people in that hallway.
I became good friends with Gail, and John Vanderschalie. My section got so big, they put in another person, Kathleen Thompson, and then Kathy Anderson. They were great. I had to work on creating a test for hemophilus, and it was difficult. One year we didn't have Christmas in December because I was busy making hemophilus antigen. We had Christmas in January.
By now Bob Wilson had replaced Roger Breeze as chair. And Bob Wilson, as I understand it, made some racial statements to Al Yates. Al Yates was black, and was a vice president of the university. So he fired Wilson, and that's how David became acting chair. And because he was chair, other staff thought I knew things I didn't, told me things they expected me to take to David, and said I had no right to hold that job, because he was earning big bucks. So I made up my mind. I always had this rule, "If things are going badly, I'm going to wait six months and see if they improve. If they don't, I'm going to quit this job and move on."
I quit the job in June of 1988. So I'm retired. I continued to walk daily, out the door at 7:30. And then Sandy Russell, our neighbor, wonders if she can walk with me. And we had some high times walking. We'd walk to Moscow. It's ten miles, and we did it in two and a half hours, which meant we were doing 15 minute miles. Then we'd get a cinammon roll and get a ride back.
Sheila's senior year of high school, she was in Germany. So in Spring of 1987, David and I flew to Germany, and Sheila had this trip planned out for us. We stayed with her host family, the Honisches. We bussed to Paris, we took the train to Munich, we bussed to West Berlin, took the train into East Berlin for a day.
Summer of 1988 I took intensive German. Sheila was coming back and Honisches were coming to visit. And that was the funnest thing. I loved taking German. I was in love with professor Kenlon. He let me sit in on all these classes. So the rest of the year, I took more classes from him. He let me take the tests, gave me scores.
Not much happened then. I walked, took more German, went to movies at the Micro with Jolanta. I didn't do well retired. A couple times in 1990 and 1991, I went back to Michigan. Ma was in the hospital, it was beautiful weather, and I'd stay with Papa and we'd go visit Ma.
My mother died in December of 1991. I had met Bob in early November when Jolanta was looking for furniture. We went down to Lewiston and Bob was working at the furniture store. He was a starving artist, and he wanted see what was going on art-wise in Pullman and Moscow. He planned to come up, and that morning Janice had called to say Ma died. So I spent the afternoon with Bob going all over Pullman and Moscow, came home and packed, and flew out the next morning to Michigan.
So then, when I was back in Michigan, I saw how good Papa was with Ma, and I thought that if I ever got like Ma, David might not be that good with me. And I was bored staying home. So I think it was after the kids had gone back after Christmas, one night after supper I said to him, "David, I want to go back to school." And he said, "What do you mean, back to school? Ha ha ha ha ha!" So I just sat in the recliner in the living room and cried, thinking I had to leave to save myself.
I didn't know how I was going to make it work, but my pathway seemed clear. So I thought about it and talked to some people, and filed for legal separation in January of 1992.
Now I had to find a place to live. I looked in one hell hole after another. I would walk into a place and say, "Can I come home to this?" And the answer was always no. And then, somebody at the vet school, saw on the bulletin board that there was this duplex for rent on Hall Drive. And I went over and I looked at it and fell in love. So I moved in late January. MLK weekend, on Friday night, I fixed a special supper, and said, "David I have something to talk to you about, when you're ready." At bedtime he hadn't said anything, so I told him I was moving out. I did it so he would have three days to recuperate.
So then I had to decide what I was going to study. I decided on sociology, and started classes summer school of 1992.
It was great being back in school! The younger students liked me, they were protective of me. One semester I took 21 credits, and I was working three jobs. And one of those classes was statistics. I did the social work track and the drug-alcohol track. That's why I had extra classes.
In fall of 1992, the duplex went up for sale. Charlotte Means wanted to sell it and I wanted to buy it. So I bought the Hall Drive property for $95,000, and became a "land mommy". That's what they called me. It started out with Sumner. That was Charlotte's kid. And Chris didn't have much money so he wanted to pay his rent with work, and I let him. They left and Maya and Mari moved in, and Jim Mallon was in there with them. Then Karen moved in with them. They'd been married a long time. They came from Arizona.
The divorce was final December 29, 1992. January of 1994, I started my internship at Council on Aging. I had done six interviews for an internship, three at drug-alcohol treatment centers, and three at social services places. It was a great fit at Council on Aging. They wanted to keep me but couldn't figure out how. Tricia Grantham, our supervisor, had worked out a part time position for me. Then there was a case manager retreat, must have been in April, down in Dayton, and Sylvia Hutton at the beginning said, "Before we get into this there's something I'd like to say. I'd like to retire and I'd like Marilyn to see my clients."
It was $18,000 a year, and I loved my job. I did home visits for clients in rural eastern Washington. I facilitated a Parkinson's support group, and a caregivers support group. I did little seminars helping people prepare for retirement.
In May of 1996 I went back to Michigan so I could go to a high school class reunion, and to an alumni banquet. And it was at the banquet that I learned that a fellow alum also lived in eastern Washington. Charlie Rogers and I exchanged phone numbers and information. I think that was June 1 of 1996.
August of 1996 I bought my hot tub. I'd sit in the hot tub and look at the Hale-Bopp comet, and watch the snow on the roof go up and up and cover the exhaust pipe thing on the roof -- it was that deep.
John Davidson came to town August or September of 1995. He worked in Jim Mallon's section on campus. And John and I did lots of stuff together. He was a fun but kind of scary companion. He was a journeyman electrician, but he didn't seem to have the expertise that a journeyman electrician would have. Whenever I went someplace with him, I always let somebody know that I had gone. He did some scary stuff. He tried to scam me on a lumber purchase. He'd do risky driving. We stayed up all night before he was going to go river kayaking. We did lots of fun things but there was never anything sexual. He left to go back to Minnesota in fall of 1996.
I went for my physical, and my blood pressure was up. And I had never had high blood pressure! So I thought, it's got to be a stressor thing. My work was great. The only thing that wasn't so great was the relationship with Bob. He'd kind of Bob in and Bob out. So I thought, enough of this, it's time to move on. And as soon as I decided that, my blood pressure started dropping. So that ended in December of 1996.
I sat in my hot tub talking to the Universe, asking for somebody who was a combination of John and Bob. Bob is a sweetheart. He's bright, he had very helpful positive things to share about life and getting along. And then John would go places and do things.
In mid-February of 1997 I was coming back from Seattle. The phone was ringing when I walked in the door, and it was Charlie calling. So now we're up to the present. Charlie comes along, I start spending weekends in Spokane. I'd already been looking to move out of the duplex. I'd gotten into a couple of book clubs, so I was going into people's houses that were real houses, and I wanted to be in a house again. My place felt cramped, I had people underneath me. So I put the house on the market to sell. It was sold in spring of 1998 for $151,000.
In August of 1997, Charlie had an appendectomy, and during the recuperation, one morning he says, "This is going so well, what do you think about moving up here?" So we started moving my stuff to Spokane, putting it in a storage unit. The house sold in spring of 1998, and then in March of 1999, Charlie and I had been looking for a place because he wanted a ranch style instead of the split level with the stairs. The house on Wilding had four floors counting the basement. So we looked at lots of places. We'd walk in and say, "next house."
We were driving in this neighborhood, and Charlie saw a for sale sign out in the front yard at this house. He suggested to the real estate agent that we go look at that. And they let us come in even though we hadn't had an appointment. They were asking 190 for it, and they said they had decided that day to drop it to 175. I thought that was bogus. I probably would have countered with 160 just to see what they would come back at.
We bought the house in March of 1999, and we got married May 1st. Charlie worked through December of 1999. For his last trip, he told his supervisor that he wanted a sleeper. It was forbidden for anybody but the driver to be in the truck. We drove the old VW Rabbit out to the CF terminal and I lay down and hid so nobody would see me. Then Charlie pulled around and I jumped out of the car and jumped into the truck with my backpack, and away we went.
(as told to Ran Prieur, fall of 2010)