Happy 100th Mom

Back in the old days of the Marion Press, the Locals column was the place to check for the comings and goings and life events of the folks in our little town. The Locals not only told us what, when, where and with whom, it also kept us up on things like bridal and new baby showers, anniversaries and birthday parties. A lot of readers in the privacy of their own easy chair checked the Locals to see where they’d been during the week and to make sure that the family birthdays were remembered.

I miss the Locals. It was a small thing but it was exciting to see your personal event in the news. At our house, even though grandma worked at the Press, we did not appear often. May was a busy month at our house when both of my parents birthdays and Mother’s Day occurred. My dad didn’t care if his mother remembered his birthday in print. But my mom was pleased that hers was mentioned, even if she said it shouldn’t have been.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor
Postcards from the Pine Columnist

If the Locals were still a feature and my mom still with us, there would be big news about her approaching birthday. On May 28my mom would mark her 100th birthday. It would be one of those “If I live to be 100….” moments she often evoked. And I have to say that if she had lived to be 100, she would say that she could see no reason for us to do anything spectacular or put it in the paper.  

“Come and visit me” would be her reply. “Send me card.” We surely would do more than that if she were here.

My mom was born on her parent’s farm in Deerfield Township of Isabella County on May 28, 1917. The household consisted of her older brother, parents and her maternal grandmother, from whom she would learn much. The Great War was raging in Europe. Little Lillian loved the farm and her community. She walked almost a mile to the local one room school, and after 8th grade attended and graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School, Class of 1934. She was just 17 and it was the midst of the Great Depression.

Times were indeed tough although she always said that they didn’t know it. Almost everyone was in the same boat. They were warm and comfortable on the farm. There was always a roof over their heads, food on the table and clothing on their backs. She told of being invited to a movie in nearby Beal City. The cost was 10c. There was not a dime to be had in the house. That matter of fact story has always stuck with me. It stuck with her too, all of her life. She was a waste not kind of gal.

Lillian Ward Berry was a tender heart who deeply loved her family and all the far-flung relatives. She adored my dad and loved us with a passion. She also loved her garden, iris, popcorn, rhubarb – extra tart, cats (we always had one), feeding the birds (which made the cat thing difficult), red lipstick, skirts, a good purse, sensible shoes, headscarves and aprons. She adored television, records, the radio; movies, soap operas, comedies, sewing by hand, the US space program (she watched every launch and return and added many books about them all to our bookshelves), reading aloud to us (many great books), Walter Cronkite, Phil Donohue, Dinah Shore, show tunes, sad movies, cookies and any kind of pie.  She loved her friends, the Pines, Marion, her little blue Ford Maverick, rummage sales, anywhere my dad was and her grandchildren.

Just kids...George and Lillian when they first met, January 31, 1941

Just kids…George and Lillian when they first met, January 31, 1941

She was especially pleased to almost share a birthday with President John F. Kennedy. She was one day older. She and her childhood best friend were exactly the same age. All through her life she met folks who shared her birthday. She always thought it an unusual thing to run into so many people born on May 28. The end of May brought a flurry of birthday cards to and from our mailbox. However mom hated it when Memorial Day (to her the old Decoration Day) became a Monday holiday and thought it positively sinful when it fell on her birthday.

Because of Alzheimer’s disease, she left us before she left us and it was all too soon. Happy Birthday, Mom.

One of mom’s Marion friends who shares that May 28th birthday is Ruby Wooten Keehn. This year Ruby is celebrating birthday number 95. No better reason to have a party and Ruby’s family is throwing one for her. In her honor they are hosting an Open House onSaturday, May 19, 1-4pm at Christie’s Vintage Stone Venue on Main Street. Please stop by, give her your heartiest and best birthday wishes, and a big hug. She’ll give you a big smile, that special laugh and if you’re lucky, and she might just tell a Marion story or two. Ask her how the Wooten clan came to call Marion, Michigan home. It’s a great tale.

Ruby asks no gifts please, just a card. Her family asks that, if you have a moment, please a note in the card about how you met Ruby. She will treasure your good wishes forever.

Happy Birthday, Ruby. You are indeed a Marion treasure.



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One Response to Happy 100th Mom

  1. Deborah B Theunick Reply

    May 20, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    I so enjoyed the Bloom Time column in the May 12 edition. Your description of my grandma Evva Brown gardens brought back many pleasant memories. I can see her in her garden when I would ride my bike over to visit. It is indeed a gift to write so you bring such memories to mind. Thank you, Debby Brown Theunick.

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