When I was born dad was in college at the University of Michigan. They were living in Ypsilanti, Michigan and I was born in Ann Arbor. Mom and dad didn’t have a car and they made a plan with the neighbors across the street from where they lived to take them to the hospital . Dad had to go to class, and he came back to the hospital after I was born and went in to see me first. He came rushing back to mom saying, “ The baby is cross-eyed.” He didn’t know that the eye muscles are weak at first .
Grandma Anderson died suddenly when Mom was 18, so Grandpa Anderson would come and try to fill her spot and help mom. He would fix whatever he could find to fix and he would take care of us and mom for a few days. When he came when I was a kid I remember him pulling up to our house and he would get out with the sweetest smile and hug us kids and pull out a bag of Orange slice jelly candy. I really didn’t like them, but because he brought them I liked that. When Mom got home from the hospital with me, Grandpa Anderson came to be with Mom. Grandma Starr was so excited and she came to visit and she wanted a brown-eyed baby and that was me. I was the first grandchild. She was very expressive and mom was very tense about me being picked up and held at the time. Grandpa Anderson made a point to pick me up regardless of mom, and gave me right to Grandma Starr to hold. He had a keen sense of how Grandma Starr felt and he made sure she got to hold me right then and look me over. Grandpa Anderson made a good gesture when he did that for Grandma Starr. He had just lost Grandma Ada Anderson three years before and she was only 47 when she suddenly died of a Heart attack while teaching mom how to fix gravy. Mom said she had nightmares for a year of more after that. Mom was the youngest girl. There were eight children and Grandpa helped Grandma much with the family.
When I was still very young maybe five or under, I told a dreadful lie one day. Dad and mom were talking, and were not fighting but discussing and I thought they were disagreeing. We went to church and had to ride for a while. I was listening and in my mind I felt bad for mom and thought dad was making her feel bad. I got to church and was surprised to see Grandma Starr and Grandpa Starr. I thought Grandma Starr would be mad if she knew dad was disagreeing with mom so I went to her and told her, “Grandma, daddy slapped mommy’s face.” Oh , the commotion I caused from Grandma. She was very defensive of mom, and expressive at that, and always seemed to believe me. Right in front of me she went and found daddy. She said, “Ahhh Bill, I am so ashamed that you would slap June’s face.” I saw a look of shock and anger in dad’s face. I thought about running away and knew right then I was in trouble because I went too far and told a lie. We had a ride home and that was torture. Of course he explained to Grandma that I did not tell the truth. What a lesson. Again, I didn’t get spanked that I remember, but I faked sleep. I was in mental pain and thought I will never do that again. Lying is bad. My thoughts were so painful. As we rode dad spoke to mom of his disappointment in me. He said, “June I can’t believe our little girl would do this.” We still lived in Coldwater and when we got home he picked me up sleeping and carried me upstairs to my bed. He talked all the way of how sad he was that I would lie and tell such a terrible lie about him slapping mom’s face. I kept still and never opened my eyes and he laid me down gently and told me he loved me even tho’ that hurt him so bad. His words were in my mind for days. All through my life I thought of that one lie. I always felt like I would never lie again even if it meant that I would suffer a whipping. I did lie after that I am sure, but that one lie in particular helped me learn it is better to tell the truth.
I started school in Coldwater. I was over five, when my sister Alexa was born. She was born in Coldwater, Michigan. I can still remember the wonderful feeling of walking into our big living room and looking into the basinett and seeing that new baby sister. She had real dark hair and seemed like a doll. Oh how I wanted to carry her around. Mom said when she looked at me after she got home with Alexa I looked so big. Pretty soon mom and dad moved to Albion in a duplex right beside of the VFW hall where they started the church.
I started school at Dalrymple School. I decided I wanted to walk to school like other kids. Mom showed me the way and there were other kids walking too. Finally I got to walk on my own. It was a small town and felt very safe to me I thought but I had never done it alone. I started walking and as I got about a block away I looked at a huge red brick home and it was so huge to me . It was a historical home that the Peabody family lived in I heard. Well , I got so scared I ran back home thinking that Armored Knights and Kings and Queens were sitting on thrones in that house and might come out with their swords. Sometimes I laugh at my childish imagination I had, but it has helped me to try to look into my kids heads when they seem upset over silly things. It might be silly to me, but not to them. When I ran home my mom was so gentle she just seemed to protect me without a lot of words. She really didn’t know what all I was thinking she just walked with me without agitation at me and got me to school. I soon walked to school with confidence and no fright.
I grew up thinking Albion was the nicest town you could live in. We lived in the Duplex a few years. I can remember visitors like Bro and Sis Dale Phebus and Vie their daughter. Uncle Gus and Aunt Helen Anderson and cousins, Karen, Madelyn and Mike and they had a church in Jackson, Michigan. When they came they showed me so much attention and laughed and exclaimed at what I would say and do. They made me feel like I was so important. I can remember riding along in their car telling them big interesting tales and I would embellish the stories and oh how excited they would act. They would compliment and say the best things that would make me feel like I was their favorite. If you get around their kids, Karen Perry, Madelyn Shields and Mike Anderson, they are like their parents. They live the most exciting way you can live and they make you feel worth a million dollars. You would maybe have a hard time expressing like they do, but I thank God there are a few folks that dare to be such builders of confidence in people. I remember when Uncle Gus and Aunt Helen came they would be full of stories and would both tell stuff at the same time and it would seem so exciting. As a kid it would be quite a big deal to have a visit from them or go to their place and visit them.
We moved from the Duplex on Cass Street in Albion to a house that seemed out in the country. Actually it was out on M99 just passed the Riverside Cemetary only about a mile from where we lived on Cass. Our Landlord was at the edge of the Cememtary and we lived at the bottom of the hill sharing the same driveway. I loved it there because I felt like we were on a farm because between us was a big barn. There was a corn field and vegetable gardens. The barn was very interesting and full of hay and chickens, and kittens were there in that barn. The landlord was Tidy Allman. She and her son lived together at the top of the hill along with their dog Trixie. Trixie was a trick for sure. I could walk about anywhere around my house and close to the barn but I never quit watching for Trixie because he could get mad quick and decide to chase down the lane barking. Besides chasing he might bite too. My friend Linda and I was petting Trixie one day and she laid her head on Trixie’s and got bit just above her eyebrow suddenly. I never cared to get close to that dog again.
One day while running through the barn with another kid I somehow ran a pitchfork through one side of my ankle and out on the same side under the skin. I pushed it out and got home to mom. She took me to the hospital and I had to have Tetanus shots because of infection. It was quite a scar of two holes on one side of my ankle and is still there.
While we lived at this place another little sister was born. Rebecca came three years after Alexa so that finally made me old enough to help more with this baby. I loved helping mom with babies. I not only helped mom, I would go to church and stand by the door as mom’s entered with babies. I knew who would let me take care of their baby and I could hold their baby and diaper it too. That was so wonderful to me. I would take a baby upstairs to the nursery at church and change the baby’s diaper, and if I found lotion I might even give the baby a bath in the sink in the nursery and lotion the baby up and put lotion in it hair and comb it’s hair into a curl on top if it had enough hair.
Sometimes at Easter they would have baby ducks and chicks that you could get. One year I slipped around and got two chicks and a duck. They were so fluffy and cute. One died real quick and the one that made it was the duck. It grew very large and turned from soft yellow to white. That duck lived with us out on Hwy M99. Trixie tried many times to chase the duck but the duck was smart enough to stay close to our house. Trixie only came so far and never over to our house. When the duck got full-grown it knew it was mine . Where I was outside, the duck would be. I would run and the duck would run and pull my hair and clothes and peck at me. I wasn’t afraid, it was mine. Mom was a bit afraid out in the area because she was used to the city. She would worry about hitchhikers or someone being in the woods by our house. It was really dark at night no street lights like in town. Mom got so scared and dad wasn’t home, she kept hearing a noise outside. Finally she located the noise by peeking out of the curtain here and there in the house. It was the duck pushing an empty tin can around on the driveway. That was about the end of the duck . We had kittens and the duck at that house. It was fun because we could pick berries from the blackberry and raspberry bushes.
One day were had company coming and mom cooked a big meal. She warned me that somehow the big round table was broken off its pedestal and I was to be careful not to lean on it. Well, I don’t know who leaned on it. I have always thought I did because with the food on it ready to serve, the table tipped up and all the food slid off.
Dad worked for the Secretary of State. They provided him a car and he worked five days a week like 8am and getting home around 5pm. Mom always had dad an evening meal ready around 5pm. We lived a pretty routine life with dad working , kids in school and the church. Soon after moving out on M99 the plans for our church to be built on the corner of Lincoln and Adams Street were made. Dad still worked but was regularly there when off work checking on the building. Finally we got to have church in the basement.
I loved going to the window wells and catching frogs. I seemed to find them in there from tiny to big. One evening the ladies were having a prayer meeting in the basement. Sometimes rain would drip and make puddles in the basement. That was a prime time to find frogs. I found a big one. I was walking around while they were praying and found a big one. I sat it down right next to the loudest praying sister there ,Nanny Patrick. It plopped right by her leg under her dress tail. I was sitting back innocently watching expecting some reaction but not as much as I got. Nanny jumped up and hollered “Oh Jesus.” The other ladies began to pray louder and harder and it helped the prayer meeting to liven up. Nanny told the ladies when the prayer meeting was over what happened. They all exclaimed and some squealed and laughed and shuddered. The frog was still hoping around as evidence. I was still sitting in the corner very amused but never was found out that I put the frog near Nanny.
Another time when it was raining I put a small frog under the windshield wiper of a sister that came by herself to church. Again I was near by when she got in her car and turned the wipers on and backed up, coming to a screeching halt, and hoped out of the car screaming for help because somehow there was a frog under her wiper.