S: Reflections from the Heart By: Joan Korson
BC: Dearest Family, I love you all so very much. Philip, you are the best husband anyone could ever have & I Love You. I want Dotty to fix my hair & I would like to have everyone wear one of my hats, winter or summer – or your own hat. Love & prayers, Mother
FC: Reflections from the Heart By: Joan Korson
1: This book is dedicated to all of those who have loved and lost, especially those who loved Joan Korson. She was a magnificent grandmother, mother, wife, and friend.
2: What was your favorite pastime as a child? Did you prefer doing it alone or with someone else? As a child I lived in Detroit. I had sidewalks to rollerskate on or ride a bike. I can remember going round & round the block on my bike. I had a girlfriend, Josephine Dube, and we played together a lot. Can remember going over to her house and standing outside calling “JOSEPHINE”. In the city that is what everyone did. Just stand and call their name. She would do the same. One day we where playing. I was on my three wheel bike and she was pushing me. She tipped me over and knocked me out. She ran home and told her mother she had killed Joan. She came over then and my mother and her mother became good friends.
3: Who gave you your name and why? Did you have a family nickname? How did you get it? (Joan Helen Couturier) My sister Clara gave me the Joan. It was a popular name at the time because because there was a lot of movie stars with that name. The name Helen came from a lady that helped my parents financially during the depression. She went to where my dad worked and found out we where losing our home and she gave them money. How neat is that. When we lived in Detroit everyone called me Jo Ann and I didn’t really like that because my name is Joan so when we moved here I told people my name is “Joan”.
4: Describe your childhood bedroom. What was the view from your window? We lived in Detroit. I slept upstairs, my Mother slept downstairs. There was a closet in my room built in the slanted roof so it was kind of small & different & it had a door. That door had to be closed of when I went upstairs. I was a scaredy cat. There was another room upstairs with a bed & if I was too afraid mother would come upstairs & sleep in that bed. I can remember a small bed that folded down & slid under the bed. She would pull it out right next to her & I would go right to sleep. My view was of the backyard and big garage.
5: Where you baptized or dedicated as an infant? If so where and by whom? I was baptized in a Church in Elk Rapids. My Godparents where my sister Clara and her boyfriend Al Straller. I always went to church with my parents. I remember name of the church was St John Berchmans.
6: When did you first go to church? What was your earliest memories of church? The thing I remember was one time going to church and the priest was going around saying O Ray Pro No Biss and for some reason I thought he was saying “I got the baloney”. Mother asked me what I liked about church & I said the part where the priest said “I got the baloney”. We lived about 5 blocks away & always walked to church.
7: Where did your father go to work every day and what did he do? My dad was a butcher by trade and worked with his father in his fathers’ meat market. Then he moved to Detroit & got a job working for Ford. We lived close enough that he could walk to work. He became foreman & seemed to like his job. He liked being the boss.
8: How did your mother spend her day? Did she have a job or do volunteer work outside the home? My mother was a cook. She worked a lot for big crowds, weddings, and the rotary. She had a way knowing how much food she would need. The people would tell her how many they would have and she would tell them what they need and she would come out exactly. I was always amazed by that. She also cooked for summer people & one time I remember one of those people asked her if she knew how to make Welch Rabbit. She said “sure”. Really don’t know how she learned so much about cooking. She would try anything. Mother always volunteered. Dad would get upset. He called it charity work. When he did something he wanted to get paid. Mother enjoyed helping people out.
9: Where was your childhood home located? Did you enjoy living there? My childhood home was in Detroit - 4427 Drexel, between Warren & Mack. I really did enjoy living there because we had neighbors close & a side walk that I could ride my bike on. Missed all that when we moved to Lake Leelanau. There was a store on every corner. A store next our house I tried to buy some candy with some stones & I think they gave it to me. . There was a grocery store a couple of blocks away that was run by some Italians & they would talk Italian & one day Mother said to them “you live in America, talk American”. I would go to the store for her.
10: Describe what the family living room looked like when you were a child. Our family living room was very small & it had a very rough plaster. You couldn’t wash it. You had to paint it with a sprayer so it wasn’t painted too often. It looked nice I thought but mother complained about it because it was so hard to clean & it was very small.
11: What kind of prayer did you say before you went to sleep? Who taught you how to pray it? As a child I used to say: Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep If I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take. Mother taught me this prayer & then I would say: God Bless Mother & everyone else in my family.
12: Describe your grandparent’s houses. Did you visit them often? Why or why not? I remember my grandma Spencer she was very poor. She didn’t have running water or a drain in her sink. So she would carry all the water she used in and out. She wasn’t a very happy person, always seemed mad. I remember our house smelling like wild mushrooms. My grandma Couturier was a good house keeper but really wasn’t close to either grandma’s. They were old when I got to know them. Clara has better memories of our grandparents
13: List one special memory about each of your brothers and sisters. My brother Spencer got married when I was little. He was 18 years older than I am. So I don’t remember him much & he died when he was 29. But I remember he was very protective of me & stuck up for me. One day we where having a big dinner & Clara asked me to do something & I wouldn’t & she told me I should because she did so much for me & Spencer said that I didn’t have to do it. That he did a lot too, I loved him for that. Clara was 16 years older & used to take me for buggy rides until someone asked her if I was her baby. Shed used to have me wear white shoes & kept them clean & would curl my hair with a hot curling iron & she never burnt me. Al was 10 year older, he would play cards with me and always win and I would cry.
14: Recall some of the most important lessons you have learned in life: My most important lesson I have learned in life is always try to do the best you can & not to worry about getting paid back because 9 times out of 10 it isn’t what you do for that person but someone else pays you back. You can’t do anything & not get paid back & it comes when you least expect it. From someone you never did anything for. | Share a memory of your grandparents or an older person you loved. My Grandma Spencer use to start early in the morning & go to pick wild strawberries. She would pick enough to give to her family and sell some. She would be out all day. My Grandma Couturier was a great cook & seamstress. She also had a very clean house.
15: Who was the first person to talk to you about God? What effect did this have on you? I was brought up in a religious family. My mother was a convert but was a very good Catholic & I went to Catholic schools. So I have always had a strong faith. Couldn’t have gone through what I had to go through without faith. Really feel sorry for anyone that doesn’t believe in God. | When did you become a Christian? How did your life change? I have always been a Christian. I am very lucky. * * * * * * * * Who gave you your first Bible and how old where you when you received it? How did it influence your life? We bought our first bible when the children where small but I never read it. When we had a house fire I received a Bible & I have not read that either.
16: Describe a memorable Valentine you received. I had a Valentine wedding so best Valentine gift was my husband who could not have been more loyal & wonderful to me & my children. He has always done the best he could do in what he ever did. * * * * * * * * How far did you have to travel to attend elementary, junior high, and high school, and how did you get there? I started going to a public school for a couple of years then I went to Saint John Berchmans until 6th grade. Then we moved to Lake Leelanau & I went to St Mary’s. I only knew a few kids at St. Johns it was such a big school. There were 2 class rooms for each grade & I walked. At St Mary’s it was small & I loved my class, still do. The bus picked me up and brought me home. It was about 1 miles away.
17: What was your favorite meal when you where a child? What made it your favorite? I love macaroni & tomatoes. My children like it too. We didn’t have a lot of money so I would make that quite often. Still have to make it once in a while. * * * * * * * * What was the name of your favorite pet? Why was it your favorite? I always had a dog outside, but never in the house. Love animals but don’t care for the work so I guess I enjoy a bird most of all because it is company & not a lot of work. I don’t enjoy being outside so unless I would have the dog or cat in the house I really cannot enjoy it.
18: What chores did you have to do when you where growing up? Did you get an allowance? How much was it? I always had chores like doing the dishes & if my mother would leave I liked to surprise her with a very clean house when she got home. I really don’t remember getting an allowance but if I wanted something I usually got it being raised almost like an only child. I was spoiled. | Tell me about your first job. My first job was at Northport Point. Mother was the cook & I was the pot & pan washer. Mother said that sometimes she would look over & she couldn’t see me because there were so many pots & pans. I liked being where my mother was & never minded that job.
19: Share your favorite desert recipe: Cinnamon Twists are my favorite thing to make. Really just like to work with yeast. I usually am very proud of the way they come out. Lisa Korson (son Roderick’s wife) started making cookies & really don’t make them like I thought I would but we have great recipes. | Share a story about a severe winter storm. I remember when we where first married we had pigs & we wanted to take them to the sale so we had our drive plowed out & in the morning the snow was almost to the windows & we had to have it plowed again to get to the barn. I don’t think we ever had that much snow again. Of course, my Mother & Dad where here helping us get them out.
20: Did the pastor or a visiting missionary ever come to your house for dinner or tea? Share one vivid experience. Should have written in this book when I got it but there is a reason. Yesterday I had almost given up hope. I have Lymphoma & really didn’t feel good. Our priest, Father Michael, came & blessed me &gave me hope. There has never been a more holy wonderful man. I love him but I have always found something to love about every priest we have had. If that is your goal or what you are looking for that is what you find.
21: Did you ever feel that God had a special calling on your life? Just be the best you can be & do the best you can do. * * * * * * * * When did you first start to pray? What do you remember about your early prayers? I think I covered this. * * * * * * * * Who was your favorite teacher? Why? At this time no teacher stands out in my mind but I was taught by nuns & loved & respected them all.
22: Describe one of your favorite dress-up outfits as a child. On what occasion would you wear it? When I came to St Mary’s from the city I had lots of clothes so I would wear a different outfit every day. Then we had uniforms & seemed to notice the classmates liked me better & seemed to fit in better. | Did you ever have a special hideaway or playhouse? What made it special? Don’t think so. * * * * * * * * What extracurricular activities were you involved in during high school? Why did you choose those activities? Have never been good at any sport but always went to the games to encourage any classmates & cheer them on.
23: What was the hardest thing you ever had to do? Maybe the hardest thing I have ever had to do was tell my kids & husband that I am tired of fighting for my life if I cannot feel better. * * * * * * * * What do you remember about your first kiss? We never kissed like people kiss now. His kisses were sweet..and still are. | What crazy fads do you remember in grade school? Have always loved hats & really don’t remember where I got them but remember I had a lot of metals, maybe 4H & put them on a small hat & would wear that hat, it was very heavy. I must have been a sight.
24: When did you have your first date? Tell me about it. Whenever there was a wedding there was always a dance. So all my first dates with Philip where going to free dances & we would take his sisters or my friends so we where never alone. It was something else Philip never explained. * * * * * * * * What were some of the most memorable books you read as a child? What made them memorable? I was never book reader as a child. My children love to read. No not all of them love to read but I read to them at noon when we laid down for our nap. * * * * * * * * When did you first learn about sex? What was your reaction? That was never talked about & was really never interested.
25: What were your family finances like when you were growing up? How did that affect you? We where very poor, but we didn’t know we were where poor because everyone else was & we got along with what we had & made do. * * * * * * * * Do you remember your first communion? What influence did it have on you and your family? Yes, I remember my First Communion. Mother made sure I had a beautiful white dress with a veil & white gloves & white purse & prayer book & rosary. We went to a restaurant that served all the chicken you can eat. * * * * * * * * What things do you wish you had done in childhood or adolescence? No Regrets!
26: What mischievous childhood experience do you remember? How did it affect you? I lived in the city as a child & my dear friend Josephine & I used to play with things we would find in the alley. Once we found a chicken head & we had it in a kettle. It must have smelled but we where stirring it around & making soup. I told my mother when we where caught. * * * * * * * * What are the things you are most glad you tried? Knitting & baking. * * * * * * * * Describe your father in his working clothes My dad was always dressed. He never even owned a pair of jeans. * * * * * * * * Describe a time in your life when you feel God led you in an unusual way. There is too many times to recall.
27: Describe your mother in her best dress My mother was a very proud person & always wore a dress, earrings & beads. She didn’t have pierced ears & as soon as she left would take them off and say they pinch. * * * * * * * * What toys did you like to play with? Why those particular toys? I had a scrap book & put pictures of movie stars in it. Until one day a boy I knew visited me & thought this is crazy. I threw it all away & never collected or saved pictures again. * * * * * * * * How old were you when you understood that God loves you? Recall your early thoughts about God’s love. Have always understood that God is present in everything I do & sometimes I wonder why I am there & then something happens & I know exactly why I am where I am & it makes me happy.
28: Did you ever go to a dance? Tell me about it. Always loved to dance & hated to miss a dance when I went. I wanted to dance every dance, especially polkas. * * * * * * * * What kind of car did your family drive? Where you proud of it or embarrassed by it? Why? We never had a new car & was always proud of it. * * * * * * * * Did you attend family reunions? Share a memory of one. Family reunions are very important to me and we always go. * * * * * * * * Did you go to church or community potlucks? How were they important to you and your family? Don’t remember going to that many church potlucks, my children probably remember this better.I do remember going to a Box Social in high school & Fred Petroskey’s dad bought my box so I ate it with him, I was so disappointed, it makes me laugh now.
29: Tell about someone who influenced your life profoundly. I have had so many friends in my life. One of my best is Dotty Mikowski. Most of the things in our old house & this new house are from her. She was just here and what a friend she was. Ardith Bugai is such an inspiration, love her. * * * * * * * * Where did you go to grade school? Junior High? High School? Tell me about your best childhood friend. My best child friend was Josephine Dube in Detroit & after we left Detroit I only saw her twice but forgot her. Her married name was Elder. * * * * * * * * Where did you live when you were going to college or developing a career? Describe an unforgettable experience from that time in your life? After high school I worked at the Park Place Hotel as waitress & hostess. Really loved that job, quit when I got married and never looked back..
30: What where your youthful goals and ambitions for your life? Which ones have you been able to fulfill? I always just wanted to be a Mother and thought I would like to have 12 children. That didn’t happen but 8 is a really good number don’t you think? * * * * * * * * How did you learn to drive? What was your first car like? I am a terrible driver & hate to drive, only drive if I have to. There was no such thing as drivers training when I got my license. | Share some insights from Scripture that have guided your spiritual journey: I have never been into the bible so I cannot share that with you. * * * * * * * * Share a favorite poem or a passage of writing that has been especially meaningful in your life. Live and Let Live Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today
31: If you learned to play a musical instrument, tell me your memories of lessons, practice, and your music teacher. If not what instrument did you want to play and why? When I was in school we had a nun who used to look at the class & play the piano. I remember one time she was playing like that & someone kicked a piece of baloney behind her & we all started to laugh. | So she picked it up & we had to go to our room & stand in front of the class and say “This is the piece of baloney that I should of picked up & I didn’t so now I have too.” I was laughing so hard I could not say it & never did. If you would ask any class member they still remember that.
32: What fashions were popular when you were in high school? Did you like them? Why or why not? (Ruth Madona Belanger) Snookie Belanger was on top of this. I would watch her. The skirts started to get long because that was what she was wearing so I had to have a long skirt. She was the cherry queen once. * * * * * * * * When did you first know you wanted to marry (your husband)? What made you feel that way? I loved everything about him but the thing that attracted me the most was his deep faith. We have said a rosary every night. This is one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t pass on that love of the rosary that we have. When Philip was in the service (he was in Korea) we tried to say the rosary at the same time. * * * * * * * * Did a tragedy ever strike your family? How were you affected? Yes we had tragedy in our family. But our family all knows what the tragedies where & we do not want to think or talk about them. The past is the past and we all went on.
33: What did you wear on your wedding day? I wore an off white satin dress that Mrs. Dube’s daughter wore & never gave it back. They never asked for it so I kept it & Jozell & Kelly wore it too. As I think about it really don’t know why I didn’t give it back to this day, it’s a mystery. * * * * * * * * Tell me about your wedding day from beginning to end. We got married on a Saturday at 8:00 am mass & went to Philips parents for breakfast. How in the world did she do that? Then we went to a studio & had pictures taken, it took a long time. The reception was at Grange Hall – my Mother cooked, she did it alone & remember her being so tired. The dance was at the Masons hall where Philip played basketball at one time, downtown Suttons Bay. By now Mother was tired but my Dad wanted her to dance, it didn’t happen – no wonder. * * * * * * * *
34: Where did you go on your honeymoon? Share one humorous incident. We went to Florida on our honeymoon. Think we stayed in Traverse City the first night at the Birchwood Motel which was torn down just outside of TC & rebuilt under a different name. After we left Al’s (Joan’s brother who lived in Florida) we went & saw the dolphins. I was really anxious to get home & look at our gifts. * * * * * * * * Share a family tradition from the Fourth of July I love parades so we went to some. Never enjoyed fireworks – always think if you’ve seen one – you’ve seen them all. | What was your first house or apartment together like? If our house had not burned we would still be living in it. We live in the same location but we built a new house & we are very happy in it. * * * * * * * * Do you remember one of the meals you fixed after you were married? How has your cooking changed since then? I am not that great a cook. I cannot taste something & figure out what is missing. I have always enjoyed cooking, cleaning, baking & anything in the house. I am not an outside person.
35: Record here some travel tips or suggestions for a fun-filled vacation: My brother Spencer used to love to sing. I never did & I can barely remember if he was in the car & we would go on a trip he would start singing & sing all the way I loved that. * * * * * * * * Did you ever go camping with your family? Where? Record one exceptional camping experience. We never went camping but most of our children do. I like being home in my own bed. | Have you ever participated in a really or demonstration? What was the cause? What were your feelings about it? I went to the Capital in Lansing for the Right to Life & they passed around a baby fetus in the crowd. I will never forget that. How can anyone not be for life? I also went to Washington D.C. twice & marched for Life. So glad that happened.
36: Did you learn to swim? I have never liked the water but took all the children to swimming lessons so they all know to swim. I loved taking them to lessons and sitting w/the ladies. We would visit & snip beans or whatever. | Who in your family served in the military and when? Do you have a special memory of that person? Yes, Philip went to Korea (Army) & my brother Al was in the Air Force and Clara’s husband Eddie was in the Air Force. My brother Al Couturier was in WWII & he called Mother & said I am on my way hope the war is over before we get there & that is what happened. The war was over & they turned around & came back home so he never saw any action & when my Mother & I heard the good news we went to church in thanksgiving. At the time we lived in Detroit. Philip saw action but has never talked about it. He was a cook. When he came out he said “I don’t want to talk about it” so we didn’t. He did talk about how cold it was and the wind going thru the tent.
37: Did your relatives come to visit in the summer or did you go to visit them? What are your memories of those visits? Mother really thought family was important & every spring we would visit her brother Dale & she wanted me to go to the cemetery with her so I would know where her parents where buried (Boyne City). Saw Roderick Spencer this summer, 2010, what a nice guy that’s Roderick’s son & his sons & wife what fun that was. | Tell me about your most memorable trip by plane, train, or ship. My or our most memorable trip was with Philips brother (Martin) and sister-in-law (Phyliss) on a Caribbean cruise. They are so sweet & we had a great time. Philip really wanted to go, I didn’t care that much but in the end I enjoyed it the most. * * * * * * * * Tell about a driving trip with your family. Any trip was a special trip * * * * * * * * Describe the most fascinating place you have visited. The castle in England has horses with fans blowing on them so they look alive. It’s hard to describe but you have to see it.
38: Share a memory about the way he proposed to you. We used to go to Traverse City the same way all the time. One day we stopped & he gave me my ring that I had picked out. Now isn’t that romantic? I had so much more than other kids growing up that I have never felt a need for anything but I do like to look at peoples stuff. That is why I love garage sales. * * * * * * * * Did you ever travel abroad? How old were you and where did you go? Did you travel alone or with a group? Philip & I went to England to visit MaryJo’s (our daughter) mother & father in law. It was a really great experience. The thing I enjoyed the most was Warwick Castle. The Sykes treated us great we will always remember that trip. | Describe a perfect summer day Just being with family on a summer day or any day would be a perfect summer day. Philips family tries to get together in the summer and we go. It’s very important that we take the time to know one another.
39: Did your wedding ceremony include a special vow to each other? What was the significance of it? Till death do we part & Always love each other. We always talked because we prayed even though I was upset or he was upset about something we ended up talking because we had to say the rosary. * * * * * * * * Name a book or author that helped you develop a philosophy of life. Share some of those insights. Never have read books so this is something I really can’t write about. | If you could be a patron of a charity organization, which one would you choose? Why? There are so many charities & organizations but I have never been a leader or head of anything but like to help.
40: What kind of outdoor work do you like? I have never enjoyed outdoor work but Philip loves it so I work on the inside & he works on the outside. He is lost in the kitchen & I would be lost in the garden. | Did you have a collection when you were growing up? What initially sparked your interest in it? I have had lots of collections, the biggest has been dolls. My sister loved dolls more than I did. Don’t think that I really ever played with a doll. I was just fascinated by the different old dolls. I love hats and love wearing them. Have lots of hats, think they are fun. I have collected roosters or chickens. That that is why I love garage sales, it is fun to see what other people have collected & start another collection as a result have lots of small collections of stuff.
41: When did you learn how to ride a bike, or to water ski, snow ski, roller skate or sail? Share your memories of the experience. I have roller skated on the sidewalks in Detroit as a kid & biked around the block & can remember riding my bike to Lake Leelanau a few times. I learned how to ride on a little hill in front of our house in Detroit. * * * * * * * * What summer games and activities did your family enjoy? Our family loves to play cards. We have played a lot of cards.
42: Loose page Mom placed in the book, she wrote: “I wrote this a long time ago, am not going to try to copy in this book” * * * * * * * * Outhouse flies in the summer, snow in the winter & we used a catalog for toilet paper * * * * * * * * When we first got married our first phone was a party line and there was four parties on our phone. One was Mary Kirt, Joe Kirts mom, and she would always pick up the phone when it would ring & I knew it but wasn’t sure until one day while I was talking on the phone her Coo Coo clock started to coo coo. It was really funny to me but she was embarrassed.
43: Outside Bathrooms When we were first married we had an outside bathroom for the first 2 years. It was hard because time I got pregnant & what we had when we didn’t go outside was low & I found it hard to get up & down. We took pictures of the outhouse thought it would be for a short time. Ended up being longer & not so funny. When we finally had the bathroom on the inside. When we moved in there was small room that was used as a milk room. It had a milk separator & it worked out great for a bathroom. Outside bathrooms or outhouses was something new for me because I was from the city. When we moved from the city we had an outhouse at first but for only a short time. Our first furnace was in the basement it really wasn’t a furnace, it was some kind of heater with a hole through the floor in the living room next to the fireplace. I was expecting Ron & would be so cold I would sit with my feet in the hole to get warm. Our first furnace was a fuel oil furnace & that wasn’t too warm because when it was going you had heat & when it was off there was no heat. Then we got a furnace that had been taken out of a house in Detroit. When the city made new roads, houses were taken down & people would take the old furnaces. So then we would burn wood & have the fuel oil as a back up it was a lot warmer. Nick Lederly is the one who got this to work.
44: Free Movies During the 1940 & 1950’s the store owners in town would sponsor a movie on Wednesday night during the summer. A large movie screen was attached to the back of the school. We would drive into town, buy some ice cream or candy to take to the show. Many people from town & the surrounding farms would come to the back of the school (where the Gym is now) to watch the show. People sat in their cars or on blankets. The amplifiers where turned up very loud so everyone could hear. The show didn’t start until it was dark enough to see the screen well. Mother & Dad would park their car behind those on the ground. We usually had a good spot because we went to everything early. I always sat on a blanket with my friends. First they would show a cartoon such as Mickey Mouse or Tom & Jerry & then the movie show would start. We saw mostly westerns such as Tom Mix, Roy Rogers or Tarzan. There were also comedies & mysteries. Sometimes you would see half a show & the other half the next week, we could hardly wait. Sometimes the movie reel would break & we would have to wait until it was fixed. If it rained we just got wet. We would get home between 11:00 & midnight. * * * * * * * * We didn’t have TV but we had a radio & it made a person use their imagination more then people do now. We loved the radio.
45: * * * * * * * * Christmas was always a real big deal. My mother would have me go to bed early & she would get the tree, put it up, decorate it & wrap the presents after I went to bed & my dad would ring some bells so I couldn’t sleep I would be so excited. Then I would get up early & there it would all be it was so exciting. I always had a lot to open because it was like I was an only child. * * * * * * * * When we lived in the city I walked to school. It was about 3 blocks. In the winter it was so cold I would wear snow pants & Mother would wrap a scarf around my neck all that was not covered was my eyes. In the winter it was a lot colder then it ever was in L.L. & in the summer it was a lot hotter. When they say you can fry an egg on the side walk I believed it but it may not be true. When I came to St Mary’s the kids where all looking for me. I don’t know how they knew I was coming & one of my classmates was a Couturier. I have always loved my class & still do. We meet 9 months out of the year & have lunch together. We had so much fun planning our 50th graduation party that we decided we should do that every month. (Mom met with her classmates until she was too sick to join them)