Ghosts on Main Street: 100 Ghosts and 100 Years

February 10, 2020

Three of Marion’s Centurions. Ollie Vincent celebrated her 100th in 1982. Ruby Johnson, 100 in 1999, chats with her old friend Susan Hall at her 100th birthday fete in 2000.

This week we mark Ghosts of Main Street installment #100 by remembering three Marion women who each celebrated birthday number one hundred.

Ollie Moore Vincent was born March 1, 1882 in Wabash, Indiana. She was 40 years old in 1922 when she arrived in Marion, Michigan. Warren G. Harding was president when she and Ontario born husband Lorenzo Vincent came to Marion from Sault Ste. Marie. They bought the farm four miles west of town on the south side of Marion Road (now 20 Mile Rd). They lived on and worked their Highland Twp. farm for forty years. Mr. Vincent died in 1962.

Ollie Vincent, who outlived husband and children, celebrated her 100th birthday at Lakeview Manor in Cadillac in 1982. Mrs. Vincent’s party expected 20 attendees. The staff at Lakeview Manor counted 102 well-wishers. Like so many before her, Mrs. Vincent was a Marionite by choice and marriage.

Ruby Peterson was born in Leroy Twp. on July 23, 1899. In the summer of 1999, Ruby Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends at her longtime home on Pickard Street in Marion.

The one hundred years in between were full ones for Ruby. She graduated from Tustin High School in 1917 and the County Normal a year later. She taught in the country schools of Osceola County for several years before Marion’s John Johnson wooed her away. The couple raised two children, Frank and Helen, in the John’s ancestral home on Pickard Street. Ruby became the bookkeeper when neighbor Sherm Blackledge started the Marion Livestock Auction in 1939. It was a position she held for 40 years.

Ruby Johnson was a member of several Marion organizations, including the American Legion and VFW Auxiliaries, support for the library and membership in several longtime Marion women’s clubs. The Johnson’s were members of the Methodist Church and Ruby belonged to its three Circles. She particularly enjoyed preparations for church suppers. The women were known for their bountiful Chicken Supper fundraisers. Ruby believed in helping others and a strong church.

John Johnson died in the summer of 1979 while working in his garden. Ruby continued to live in her Marion home, spending only a few months with Norma Lindstrom at Marion’s Pleasant Ridge. She died on November 6, 2000.

Susan Bobo, 20, of Burdell Twp. met Omer Hall of Marion Twp. at a dance at Corwin’s Hall in 1921. The couple was married on June 22, 1922. They settled into a little house on Pickard Street, where five years later, their only child Garth was born. The Halls moved three miles west of the village to the Hall Homestead, Omer’s ancestral home. The Hall’s would spend the rest of their very happy 52-year marriage on the farm.

Along with son Garth, Omer was a successful sheep breeder and farmer. Also recognized as Omer Hall Real Estate and Insurance, his office was located in the former post office on the main corner at Main and Mill.

After her son graduated from high school, Susan, who had been an Osceola County country schoolteacher before her marriage, helped in Omer’s office. Like her lifelong friend Ruby Johnson, she was dedicated to the Methodist Church, its Circles and several other Marion women’s clubs. Both women made good friends, stayed involved with the community and felt that service to others was an important part of being a good citizen and a good person.

In January 2000, Susan Bobo Hall was the guest of honor at a 100th birthday party held at her last residence at Cadillac’s Curry House. Mrs. Hall had a grand time, enjoyed the company of her extended family, Marion friends and Ruby Johnson. Mrs. Hall died just a month later.

We all like to believe that the living is good in the Marion, Michigan area. It is. These women are but three of the many folks who found this a good place to live, raise a family and grow old. Indeed, there have been many such as they, who lived long lives and were content in the valley of the Middle Branch.

Ollie Vincent, who very much enjoyed farming, put it well in regards to the hard work and the life-changing event of her lifetime, the Great Depression. “It was hard times.” She told the Press. “We learned to get by with a lot less.” Perhaps that was in the back of her mind when she said she would not milk cows again and that wasn’t sure she would care to live another hundred years.

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