My parents met by accident while cruising down the street. You could say they picked each other up! My mother and her friend Lois Hilgendorf had just finished playing tennis at Chandler Park and were riding their bikes home along Chandler Park Drive. My father and his buddy Bob Patrick were cruising along in my father’s ’39 Mercury convertible. Lois recognized Bob, a friend of her cousin Joe Hannah, from a gathering with the Argonauts (the name my father’s group called themselves). They struck up a brief conversation and the boys followed the girls to my mom’s house on Alter Rd.
They were 19 and 20 years old when they got married. Before they got married, he had a bunch of traffic tickets in the glove compartment box of his car; and, you know my mother, she made sure the tickets were paid before they were married. And that set up a pattern of care taking she took on for the rest of her life. She always had someone to take care of until the last several years of her life…….
Right after they got married, my father was drafted into the Korean conflict. Luckily, he went to Germany. She lived with her parents while he was in Europe and I am sure her parents were still cutting her steak and taking the seeds out of her watermelon while he was gone. She didn’t know how to cook when they got married and all he knew how to cook were hamburgers. Early on they lived with her parents and grandma cooked. Mom eventually became a very good cook and baker and loved to experiment—like the time she cooked smelt. That did not go over very well with her meat and potatoes with mushy vegetables out of a can family, but she kept forging ahead with new recipes anyway.
My parents were the quintessential partiers. They worked hard and partied harder. There was always something going on—the Belgian club they belonged to –“the Wiener Roast” had parties with costume and food prep that went along with it—mom sewing away in the basement, her and her friends making their themed costumes-one year Cannibals, another year Sheiks and Belly Dancers, Flamingo Dancers and Bull fighters. There was dancing, games, holiday parties, anniversary parties at the bar, bbq’s; my mom was very creative. In the neighborhood where we grew up, they had a tradition of giving ice cream cones out to all the kids on your birthday. One year mom decided to try some ice cream shakes she had seen in a magazine. One of the neighbor ladies was a little jealous, I think. But it was very cool……
My father, always full of energy and ideas, looking for something new and exciting to do, bought a cottage on Pratt Lake in Gladwin, MI. My mother being a woman of her era went along for the ride—and what a ride it was. They used to put us in the car early, early in the morning still in our pj’s, some of us would sleep on the floor of the car. Those were the days before the expressway and they took the back roads. And my father never stopped for anything, so my brothers’ used to pee in a plastic bag and as I recall, my mom threw the bags out the window!
I clearly remember the pin worm epidemic. I’m not saying who brought them in, but whenever we were scratching our itchy butts mom was there with a flashlight. And late one night on Pratt Lake she found them. And then after reacting she figured out a solution and everyone at the cottage took pinworm medicine. The amount you took was determined by your weight; Max Schmiglitz who was a pretty heavy guy took alot.
Mom and Aunt Pat took us kids up there during the week and the men would join us on the weekends. One time in the four door Buick, Mom and Aunt Pat brought me, Timmy, Linda, Bobbi, Terry, Marty, Randy Paul Patrick and little baby Raymie. There were kids all over the car….and then there was the ringer washing machine. ….eventually the mice won out and Mom and Dad sold the cottage. Two houses are not necessarily better than one.