Happy Birthday to Me

December 31, 2019

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Every so often during the social portion of a meeting of the Marion Area Historical Society, the group asks each to share a Marion memory, remember a favorite person or answer a question.

One favorite question to answer is “How did you or your family come to live at Marion?” Each family has unique story to tell. Some tell of ancestors who were early settlers, the land and farming prospects were the principle lure. Others came because of employment, logging, the railroad or the early oil and gas industry. Our grandparents or great-grandparents worked hard to reach this area. They may have had to travel through thick forests on foot or in wagons, making their way north along the old State roads from other places, other states and countries, just to reach this place in northern Michigan.

Each of us also has a story to tell, the personal tale of how we arrived here. This is the perfect time to tell the story of how I came to call Marion, Michigan home. The story of my arrival was told 
I was born at the end of December, almost exactly, if my calculations are correct which they probably are not, in the middle of the last century, in Evart, Evart Twp, Osceola County, at 12:15 in the afternoon at Rohen’s Maternity Home. Rohen’s Maternity home was just that, a house on Cherry Street in Evart, Michigan, where babies were born.

It was a Friday morning; Thermometers registered sub-zero readings all across the region. In Marion and dad’s car would not start.  He was up early because he had ice fishing plans. Dad, dressed in his long woolies and heavy Mackinaw jacket, was ready to tackle that issue when my mother changed his plans.

At the time I was born my parents were living almost at the center of Marion, in one of two apartments located above the Marion Food Market. (The building is now part of the Artesian Springs Medical Center; the upper story was removed in 1956.) It was a 20-mile drive to Evart. Dad’s 1940-something Chevy did not start but Uncle Bernie’s newer one did and he soon delivered the warm car to the door. Off my parents went to Evart as fast as the roads would allow. 

My impending birth also changed the plans of dad’s fishing companion, Harry Willet. Instead, Dr. Willet and Frieda Rohen, RN, were in attendance at my much anticipated arrival. Dad was glad he was dressed for the outdoors. Rohen’s waiting room was an unheated, glass-enclosed porch.
I am told that I arrived just after noon. By 7pm had met many of the folks who waited anxiously these past months to meet me; grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousin. This was the family into which I was born on the 364th day of 1949. By the 10th day of January I officially came home to Marion. My maternal grandmother came from the farm to help mom. On the return trip grandma, my dad and the old cold Chevy were broadsided by a vehicle running a stop on M-66, just north of Barryton. Amazingly they were shaken but not seriously hurt. Within three days my dad bragged that he had a new baby and a new Chevrolet for the New Year.
Soon enough he would also have Greetings from Uncle Sam and be called into active duty during the Korean conflict. As an instructor he was stationed within the country and my mom and I went to be with him, spending time in Tennessee. But that is another story. Mom and I spent much of the time he was gone between our little home in Marion and my maternal grandparents’ farm in Isabella County. Some of my earliest memories are of the long gone little apartment above the IGA and of the grocery itself, my aunt and uncle and the Marion folks who came and went there. The ‘store’ would be a part of my life until it left our family in 1969.

We moved to the Turner house on Blevins Street just before I was three. The move was precipitated because I considered the IGA my playground. My aunt was more than willing for it to be so. This house was my growing up home. It was comfortably situated in my childhood neighborhood. Grandma Berry lived just down the street and everyone knew my name. I made my longest friends on Blevins Street. I hold them and those memories dear. Blevins Street was, as was all of Marion in those days, a great place for a kid to grow up. 

We moved to the Pines in 1961. I was 11 and this has always been home. The markers of my life have marched through here; high school and college graduations, weddings, the Gardener and me in 1976, our daughter and her husband in 1997. There are countless sweet memories contained within these walls.

In the years when I lived 106 miles away, not one day passed in which I did not wonder what those I loved were doing and what was going on at home in Marion. I make no apologies nor can I explain why I feel as I do. Everyone should have an anchor in life and I am truly fortunate to have the Gardener, our family and life at Marion, Michigan. Thank you for another good year at home.

We wish you a Happy, Safe, Sane New Year and Peace from the Pines. 

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