My Story About Growing Up
By Reta Howes Russell (Marilla Township)
Born in 1920
Russell, Vernon, and I played outside a lot in the summer. Our lawn wasn’t mowed and the long grass would get between my toes, and it felt good! I kept up with the boys very well. Of course, the older boys had a good time teasing us. I remember one time they dared us to swallow an egg yolk (whole). They were going to pay us, probably a nickel. Mom and Dad weren’t home at the time. None of us made it!
We went to Sunday school every Sunday and were brought up to believe in and live a Christian life. We walked to school and came home for lunch because we lived so close (1/4 mi. west on Bigge Rd., top of hill on the left). I would rather eat at school because that gave us more time to play. We always had a ball game going and would run back to school so we didn’t miss much.
Saturday nights we went to the “Free Show” at Mesick. A large crowd would gather and we saw black and white movies, a lot of westerns, and they were silent. So the action was great and they would run captions under the pictures that told the story. Then we would walk up and down the streets visiting with friends and get an ice cream cone, 3 dips for a dime! The people that sold the ice cream were dwarfs. She stood on a stool back of the counter and dipped the ice cream. They were so nice to everybody!
Ruth, because she was ten years older than I, was my grown up sister and my idol. She wore spiked heels and make up, also short dresses, and she taught school.
I think that I had a lot of them! One was when I was baptized along with 13 others. I was 13 years old. I graduated from 10th grade at Marilla School. Then I rode the bus to Kaleva School and graduated in 1939 from there. I stayed home, worked at school for $15 a month and helped my brother Vernon milk the cows. Then, oh happy day when the superintendent at Kaleva School got a scholarship for me to go to central Michigan College to become a teacher! My dad went to the bank and borrowed money to pay other expenses. It cost me $300 to go for 2 years. Then I began teaching.
My dreams were that I wanted to grow up, marry, and have a family. I had teaching on my mind, but I didn’t really think that I could do it, because they weren’t having County Normal teacher’s training like my sister Ruth had for one year. Now, you had to have at least two years of college, and we didn’t have any money. But it did work out. I taught for 30 years.
Loves of My Life
AFTER RETIRING, Jim and I did a lot of traveling and had many good times until his diabetes got him down. I worked many years at our Marilla Museum. Our two rooms in the basement really went over big. Moving the log house from Yates Corners, rebuilding and furnishing it was a big accomplishment! Then the building of Nels Johnson’s cabin and the museum barn were great privileges to be a part of doing.
I always thanked God for all of these things and always was in church and had the privilege of being a Sunday school teacher and helped wherever I could.