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Family History

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FC: Stories from Grandma Pat | "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."

1: I hope our sons and grand kids don’t become bored with these short stories. I tried to keep them short. Some are sad, some are funny. I am happy I can remember some things to write about. Thanks to Jenny for putting these stories together in a book. ~Grandma Pat

2: When I was young we didn’t have T.V. we had a radio. We listen to “The Shadow” my favorite program. You could imagine what they were doing. When I was older we got a T.V. Black and white T.V. now so much different; color, DVD, watch movies. Things are good and bad now. | Mother’s Day is May 9, 2011. I have been thinking of my mom. She lived until she was 90 years old. I wish lots of times I could talk to her. We had good times and sad times together. How she raised four kids; she had two boys, Dick and Bill; and two girls, me and my sister Jeanne. Our dad died when he was 34 years old. He had asthma. Smoked too much. He sat in the chair so he could breathe. They didn’t have medicine like they do now. My dad worked on the railroad as an engineer. We lived on South Burdick St. My mom went to work at two places as a cook. She was a great cook. She worked at Upjohn Co. in downtown Kalamazoo. We didn’t have a car so she walked to work. We had to help at home. My brothers, sister, and I cleaned. We took care of each other. Bill was oldest, then Dick, Jeanne and I was the baby sister. We were three years apart in age.

3: Thinking back to when we lived on Jackson St. off of Portage St. in Kalamazoo. Strange my name is Jackson. There was a factory across from our house. We lived two houses from Edison School. There was a fence around the playground. I was eight or nine years old. The boys played football around the fence and they asked me to play with them. We won’t tackle you they said. I’d climb the fence to play but they always tackled me. My mom said if you knew that why do you go over? I guess I thought they wouldn’t. Crazy me.

5: My mom married our step-dad Howard when I was fifteen years old. He was a great dad; we all liked him: my two brothers Bill and Dick, and my sister Jeanne and I. I think he liked me best. He bought my first two wheel bike for me. He bought a dog for us. We lived on Village St. We lived in an apartment house. You had to go outside around the house to take the dog out. One day the dog wanted outside. I didn’t want to take him out back, so I opened the kitchen window and put the leash on him and lowered him to the ground. | My sister always washed our dishes, I wiped them sometimes, I put them on the floor registers sometimes, until our mom found hair on the dishes. That was the end of that! We never had a dishwasher.

6: When our boys Jim, Steve, and Chris were young, I would go with them to trick or treat. I didn’t dress up for Halloween, maybe a little. I’d walk behind the boys and kids walked by us saying, “Hi Mrs. Jackson.” I miss having kids to go trick or treating with anymore. They are grown up now. | Halloween was a fun time for me, my brothers Bill and Dick, and my sister Jeanne. Our dad had worked on the railroad as a conductor. Our mom would put on his uniform and black her face with a burned cork. She put on black gloves and go out to trick or treat with us. She walked behind us. Kids walked in the back of us and said, “Hi Mrs. Bliss.” We don’t remember how the black came off her face. She had to go to work the next day. When we got home she made cocoa for us. I think of what a good time we had then.

7: When we lived on South Burdick St. I went to Parkwood school. My mom said I didn’t like school. On Easter she said, “If you go to school today you can color eggs.” I said, “cook some eggs and I will color some here at home.” One day mom walked me to school. When she got home I was sitting on our porch. My poor mom had quite a time with me when I was young and when I was older. My mom would stand on the porch and call my name, “Patty come home.” Then she would call me again, “Patricia Ann Bliss.” I knew she was getting mad so I came home. Mom was a good mom to my two brothers, my sister and me. Mom passed away in 1995 when she was 90 years old. I remember one Christmas my mom had two poinsettia plants. While she was at work one day my sister Jeanne and I cleaned house for our mom. Looked good. We took her plants outdoors on our front porch for air. Now it’s December-cold, snow. We forgot we put the plants out on front porch. Mom came home from work about 5:30 and she opened the front door. She had two dead plants in her hands. She didn’t say anything, just looked at my sister and I. My sister and I told her we were sorry but we thought the plants needed air. Mom forgave us. She was a cool mom.

8: During WWII my sister Jeanne and I use to put face make-up on our legs because we didn’t have nylons. When it rained it ran down our legs. Shoes, meat, sugar, gas were rationed. It wasn’t so bad. | Puppet-Smelly Clark My sister Jeanne and I took a cardboard box and made a stage. Mom helped us with a cloth for curtains. Mom had bought us a puppet we wanted. We took turns with Smelly Clark in back of the box. Speaking for Smelly Clark, laughing, just having a great time. I remembered the puppet when I was reading my magazine “Reminisce.” | We lived on South Burdick St. I drove by our house a few weeks ago; I hadn't been by our old house in years. Looked the same. I remember there were steps down to the street. I always thought they were lots of steps but I guess when you're younger they seemed like more steps. My two brothers Bill and Dick shared a bedroom on the second floor. My sister Jeanne and I shared a bedroom next to the bathroom. The bathroom was on the first floor next to the kitchen.

9: My sister told me she had a little purse, lets put dog poop in it, put string on it and put the purse on sidewalk. We hid behind bushes and we waited until the lady came walking back down the street. She saw the purse and reached for it. We pulled the string, purse would move. We got to laughing and she heard us. She opened it up. She went to our house and told our mom what we did. I'll let you guess what our mom did to us. | My brothers didn't go downstairs to use the bathroom; they peed out their bedroom window. Mom was walking home from work one day and looked up at the side of the house. She came in the house and told them to get their butts outside and get the ladder and pails and brush and scrub the whole side of the house. I know they never did pee out the window again. Our poor mom had to raise four kids by herself. I think she did a good job.

10: Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories. | My mom did lots of volunteering for Red Cross and Navy Mothers. One nite a week she went to Pine Lake Vocational School for servicemen. The ladies took homemade cookies, cakes, and pies. The ladies played cards with the guys. Mom asked me to go with her lots of times but I said no. Finally I said ok. My best friend went with us. Her name was Pat too. We walked in the building and some of the guys came over and told us their names. Pat and I told them our names. One guy came over to talk to us. I looked at him and said, “You look like Gene Kelly.” Everyone thought he did too. That’s how I met my husband. It was 1947. He had been in the Army three years. He lived in Addison, MI. I tell people my mom introduced us. We went together a few months. Kelly’s real name was LaVere Jackson. Kelly asked me to marry him in September 1947. I said yes. Kelly was eight years older than me. We planned on getting married January 10, 1948. I was working at Upjohn’s. I had played the football pool at work. I forgot. I played it on Monday after new year’s. Kelly met me at City Hall for our marriage license. We were the first ones to get our license in the new year. The gazette came over and took our picture.

11: I was watching a T.V. show I thought of when I married my husband Kelly. My step-dad walked me down the aisle. Everyone was in the church. My step-dad said, “Are you ready?” I said I didn’t know if I wanted to go down. He said “You have to. I cut your place at the table at home.” I shook all the way down; my flowers were shaking. When the minister said, “you may kiss the bride” I laughed so hard. My husband Kelly said later he wondered why he got married. We were married 54 years. Kelly passed away ten years ago. We had three great sons and seven grand kids. Kelly was a great man. | I want to tell the story about how Kelly asked me to marry him. Kelly and I went out that nite to a movie, and after the movie he drove me home. So we sat in the car in front of my house talking. Then, Kelly said: “Would you like to hear the pitter-patter of little feet?” I looked at him and said, “Why? Do you have mice?” Kelly said, “I’m asking you to marry me.” I said yes! We talked about when we would get married. We thought in the new year. On January 10th 1948 we were married. We were married for 54 years. Kelly passed away on May 3rd, 2002. I miss him. He was a good husband and a good father. He loved his seven grand children. Kelly would be proud of all the kids. He would be a great grandpa; Charlie and Becky had Mason Charles in October, 2011.

12: My grandson Brendan asked me one day, “how did you meet Grandpa Kelly?” Here is the story. My mom asked me to go to Pine Lake with the ladies from the Navy Mother’s Club. They went out there to play cards with the guys who had been in World War II. They took cookies they had made. I finally said I would go. I wanted into the building and the guys walked over and told us they were glad we came. A good-looking guy came over and told me his name: LaVere Jackson. I told him my name: Pat Bliss. I thought he looked like Gene Kelly; he laughed. Before we left that nite he asked me for my phone number. He called about three or four times. My mom said, “why don’t you go with him?” so I said ok. We went to a movie and had hamburgers. The movie and food costs $1 for both of us. You can’t go to a movie now for that price. That was 1947 and we married in 1948 on January 10th. We were married 54 years. Kelly passed away May 3, 2002. He was a great husband and a great dad and a great grandpa. I miss him every day. We had three sons and seven grand kids. | Kelly and I lived on the corner of South Rose and Vine St. It was an apartment upstairs. We had to share a bathroom and refrigerator with the other couple. We knew them. I cleaned the bathroom and refrigerator. We had a little kitchen, a closet. We ate in the living room, large bedroom. I had my mom and dad over to eat. I made cherry pie; I didn’t have a rolling pin so I used a mason jar. Pie crust kept coming back to me. Kelly held it for me. I finally got it in the oven. My dad said, “great cherry pie.”

13: My husband Kelly and I were married in 1948. Our first apartment was on Vine and Rose St. in Kalamazoo. We rented an apartment from a lady who rented apartments in her home; nice lady. We had three rooms upstairs, a closet was made into a kitchen, small stove, counter space. We ate in the living room. Big bedroom and we shared the refrigerator in the hallway and shared a bathroom. Good thing we knew the other people who lived upstairs. We didn’t have any furniture of our own. The lady let me use her ringer washer. They didn’t have dryers back then. So I took our clothes up to the attic on the third floor and hung clothes on clothesline to dry. Kelly and I went to the store and on our way back to the apartment we went down Vine St. We could see down Vine-fire trucks and police cars were in front of the apartment. We parked our car in front of the house, got out of the car and ran up to the fireman asking where is the fire? He said, “In the attic.” Kelly and I ran inside up to the attic. Our clothes were ok but they smelled like smoke. Had to wash clothes again; took them to my folks house and hung them on their clothesline in the backyard to dry. We never found out how the fire started. Glad no one was hurt. | Jackson

14: Thinking back to when I lived on Jackson St. Strange my last name is Jackson now. My dad passed away when he was 34 years old. He had asthma and he was a heavy smoker. He worked on the railroad. Mom had a hard time taking care of four kids. I had two brothers and one sister. Near our house the trains stopped. The hobos came to our back door and mom always fed them, put food on plates. They were plates, not paper plates. They ate the food and gave the plates back to mom. They came two times a week. We had an ice man. He came every week. We had an ice box on the back porch. He broke off pieces of ice so we could suck on them. When my brother Bill got his first job he bought mom a refrigerator. We were so excited. We went to the store and bought cookies and ice cream. We still miss the ice man. Maybe a little.

15: My friend Marilyn and I lived next door to each other. It was during WWII on Village St. I was fourteen years old, Marilyn was twelve. We had food, sugar, and shoes that were rationed. I rode my bike at nite around our neighborhood to make sure windows in the houses were covered. If planes flew over they wouldn’t see any lights. This was during WWII. Marilyn and I are still friends. We get together and have lunch or dinner. We both like wine. She is 82 years old now. I am 84 years old now. It’s so great to have a friend I can talk to about what we did when we lived next door to each other. How things have changed. Not many friends are still living. | I had a boyfriend long ago, when I was seventeen-eighteen. His name was Jerry. He was really tall. I had to wear really high shoes. He didn’t have a car so we walked a lot. Sometimes his friend would give us a ride. Jerry had to go to church on Sunday so we sat in the balcony with other kids. They played cards. Sometimes we rode to Battle Creek to see a movie. They couldn’t go to movies in Kalamazoo. Parents wouldn’t let them. They were Dutch. Back then they did lots of things they shouldn’t do. One nite Jerry and I came home to my house. It was raining out. We had an alley across from our house when it rained it got muddy. My step-dad Howard told him to go home through the alley. My step-dad didn’t like him. Jerry called me on the phone when he got home. He said the alley was filled with water and lots of mud. My step-dad thought it was funny; laughed and laughed.

16: I worked at Upjohn Co. in 1947-I was seventeen years old. I told them I was eighteen years old. I worked filling ampules with medicine, worked on a line with seven or eight girls. It was fun. Worked five days a week. I got married while I worked there. In 1948 I had put some money in the football pool. I won $50! Pretty good. Kelly and I went to get our marriage license right after new years January 1948. We were first to get our marriage license. We had our picture taken for the Kalamazoo Gazette they came and took our picture with Clerk Anthony Stamm. Nice man. January 10th we got married.

17: When we lived on Roseland in Milwood Kelly was sick and stayed home from work. He worked for Stan Leach. Kelly was laying in bed and the boys were taking naps. I didn’t know how to drive a car; we didn’t have a car when I was young. Our car was in the driveway so I thought I would get the keys and go out to see if I could start the car. I put the keys in and they started up the car. I backed out of the driveway. It seemed easy! I drove up and down the side streets. I didn’t know but Kelly was watching me from our living room window shaking his head. I drove in our driveway and he came out the door laughing. He said, “You need a drivers license,” but I didn’t get my license for a while. Kelly and I went to the police station and the policeman said he was going off duty so he said drive around the block, so I did. He asked if I could park between two cars and I said yes. So we went back to the station and I got my license! Kelly asked, “How did you do?” I said, “Good!” I have never had an accident but I have had two tickets for driving too fast, but that was years ago. I know someday I will have to give up my car keys; then I will know I am getting older. I hope it won’t be soon. Time seems to go fast, then it seems too slow.

18: On Easter my husband Kelly brought three ducks home for our sons Jim, Steve, and Chris. We put them in our garage; we had a box for the ducks. One day someone lifted the backdoor in the garage open and the ducks got out. The neighbor’s dog got one of the ducks by the neck. We were outdoors calling the dog. He finally dropped the duck. The duck never made noise again. My mom and dad lived at the lake and they put a fence near the lake for the ducks. My mom had us out for Easter dinner. The boys asked what we were having to eat. My mom said we were having capinettes. Jim our son said, “where are the ducks? They aren’t outside.” My mom said they swam away. But later Jim said he knew they didn’t swim away. Kids are smarter than you think. | Kelly and I with our boys Jim, Steve, and Chris went out to eat at nite we would go to the bowling alley Airway Lanes. We would order steak sandwiches, salad, and fries. Good food for only 85 cents a piece. Kids really liked them, so did Kelly and I. Sometimes we would all go to eat at the Pacific Club. They had great food. We all had good food and good times. They had all kinds of seafood. More money. We didn’t eat there many nites.

19: Our Ancestors | My granddaughter Laura called me the other day. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She moved from Portage to N.C. about three years ago. She was 24 years in April. She is our youngest granddaughter; we have 3 granddaughters and four grandsons. I told her I was taking a class writing stories at the Portage Library. She asked me if I would write about her dad, Chris. So I wrote about Chris; he is our youngest son. So I thought I would write how when Chris was about 1 -2 years old he always wanted to go outdoors. So I put the playpen out in the back yard. I took my chair and book out and I put Chris in the playpen. We lived in Milwood, on Roseland St. not far from Miller Rd. There were some factories around. Chris didn’t want to stay in the playpen, so I took him out and I got in the playpen. It was around three o’clock and cars were going home from work. They saw us and blew their horns, laughing. I took Chris back in the house; he wanted outside so I took him back outside. I had a clothesline so I tied him with a rope around his waist. I went back inside and looked outside to check on him. He was gone. I called, “Chris where are you?” A neighbor kid brought Chris home; he was at his house. I don’t know how he untied himself. We never found out.

20: I stopped yesterday at the Washington Square library and brought my camera with me and went inside. Lady at desk asked if I needed help. I told her I was writing stories for my sons and grand kids about coming to the library with my mom, two brothers and sister when I was young. She gave me some newspaper about the library built in 1926. She took my picture. I thanked her. She wants to read my story. When we were young kids my mom would take my two brothers, my sister and I to the library in Washington Square. We lived off Jackson St. off of Portage St. We didn’t have a car so we would walk to the library and walk home. I was driving down Portage St. and I saw the library. I stopped and parked my car. I wanted to see what it looked like now. I went in and the lady at the desk asked if she could help me. I got tears in my eyes. I told her my mom took us to the library when we were young. She asked me if the library had changed. I said yes. You have computers now. The lady said the library was built in 1926. I said I was built in 1927. I looked around a little more. I said goodbye to the lady. I had tears in my eyes when I left.

22: We lived on Roseland in Kalamazoo. Jim was seven and Steve was five when Chris was born. We only had two bedrooms in the small house. The boys slept in one bedroom crowded with two twin beds and a crib. When we brought Chris home from the hospital it was around Easter; March 28th. Jim and Steve put grass and candy in the basket. They said they wanted a dog not a brother. As they grew older they always said I put them to bed too early. The kids next door Linda and David got to stay outdoors longer. I said “too bad. I will paint the windows brown so you can’t see out.” I never did paint the windows. We moved to Bard St. and this house had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big living room, nice kitchen, a garage, and it was close to school. We moved quite a few times.

23: Living in Wausa, Wisconsin. Kelly was sent there by the company he worked for. I was pregnant for Chris; Jim was six and Steve was four. We moved up there in August until March. We lived in a motel for a while until we found an apartment. We rented our house on Roseland to a family who took good care of it. We took some of our things with us: T.V., clothes. The motel wasn’t too nice. We were hoping it wouldn’t be too long before we could move. Now the story begins. We had a hard time finding and apartment, as soon as people knew we had two boys they said we don’t rent to people with children. Finally I asked a lady, “You were never a kid? Never had kids?” Kelly and I finally said we didn’t think we would ever find an apartment. We went to look at apartments. I told Jim and Steve to lay on the floor of the car. That didn’t work. We finally found a very nice lady from Chicago who rented to us. We moved in; nice furniture, nice and clean. We lived on the first floor and had a garage. There was a couple who lived on the second floor with a baby six months old. Thank God the lady liked kids!

24: The other day I was looking through my DVDs and found Tom Jones DVD. I played it on my kitchen T.V. I sang with Tom and danced around my kitchen alone. When Tom Jones started out singing years ago I bought his record, we called them records then, not DVDs. Ask my sons Jim, Steve, and Chris how I made them be quiet when I played Tom’s record. I went to see Tom Jones when he came to Kalamazoo. I went with my friend Joyce Leach. We had a great time watching Tom sing and dance on stage. He was a handsome man. I miss Joyce; she died in 1995. She was a great friend.

25: Laura likes to hear stories about her dad. Chris grew up to be a great son and a great father. He has two daughters; Laura and Jenny, and one son Scott. Jenny is married to Noah, they live in N.C. not far from Laura. Scott lives in Lakeland, FL not far from Chris and Marie. I miss them. I go down around Christmas for three weeks. They have a small dog named Bailey. Can’t forget I go to see Bailey too. Sometimes I go to Florida. Jenny, Noah, Laura and her fiancé Brendan come to Florida for Christmas, sometimes Marie, Chris, and I go to N.C. for Christmas. It takes twelve hours to drive up to N.C. from Florida. It is a long car ride but it’s great to be with some of my kids. | What if dogs could talk? I wonder what Bailey would say when he hears I am going to visit Chris and Marie and him for three to four weeks at Christmas. “Well, she isn’t too bad. She plays with me, takes me on walks, and gives me treats. I think she likes me but I don’t like her when she sprays water on me when I bark at people walking by. She’s not so bad. I will be nice when she comes again.”

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  • Title: Family History
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