Keith LeRoy Bergy
Birth: 28 JUN 1927 In parents' home on 100th Street, Kent Co, Michigan
1930 Census: 12 APR 1930
Place: Caledonia Twp, Kent Co, Michigan
Note: Living with parents, Eugene and Audra.
Marriage:11 NOV 1945 At Roy and Ruth McRoberts' house, Pratt Lake Road, SE of Alto, Kent, Michigan
Military: JAN 1946-19 AUG 1947
Note: Served in the Army after World War II had ended.
Birth of Son: 21 APR 1947
Name: Robert LeRoy Bergy
Birth of Daughter: 01 FEB 1949
Name: Betty Louise Bergy
Click here to see parents: Eugene Levi Bergy and Audra M. Farnham
Note: When growing up there wasn't very much money to spend or even to purchase what we thought were necessities. We had plenty to eat because of being on the farm. We had plenty of milk, eggs, meat and a garden that gave us lots of vegetables. Canning was a way of preserving our food. No food lockers in town or a deep freeze, so canning was how we preserved food for winter use. However, when we were in our late teens food lockers came into existence. We also would get fruit to can. A treat was peaches topped with real whipped cream. We always had homemade bread.
When we needed flour for baking, wheat was taken to the grain elevator and exchanged for flour. We had an ice box in place of a refrigerator. The men cut ice on the lakes and stored it in a building packed with sawdust around the blocks of ice. That would keep for a long time in the winter and then sometimes in the summer we had to buy some.
Cutting wood was a necessity, since we had a heating stove in the living room and a cook stove in the kitchen. Sometimes if
there was enough money a little coal was bought to burn at night so the fire would last until morning. It was not easy to get up in the morning when the house was so cold. On the side of the kitchen stove was a reservoir that we kept water in so it would be hot for washing dishes or to take a bath in the wash tub. Yes, a wash tub.
The weekly wash water was heated in a boiler on top of the wood stove. Then put in the washing machine that had a gasoline motor. Clothes were hung outside on a line to dry (a solar dryer). Before we had electricity we had what we called flat irons. We sat them on top of the stove to get hot and then we ironed the clothes. The iron needed to be reheated several times until all of the ironing was done. There was no such thing as polyester or any other fabric that needed "no" or "very little" ironing.
Our dishes were washed in a dish pan and not sinks, using the water from the reservoir. Sometimes we even had homemade soap. That was not very good dish soap and not very sudsy. Hard on the hands too. Never helped to make the soap, nor know what it was made of.
We didn't have a lot of social life. What we did have was built around church, school and family activities. Mostly we visited with family and friends. We were entertained by radio and not television, as it wasn't in existance then. The radio was operated by a battery until we had electricity. Believe it or not there was some good programs. Sitcoms are what they call them today. There was Amos N Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, as well as the daytime "sob stories". Never listened to them. Jack Armstrong the All American Boy was probably for the athletic kids. The music was good, too (at least we thought so). It was mostly ballads. We lived with what we had, including outdoor toilets. That was probably the worst thing of growing up. It was cold in the winter and smelly in the summer.
Keith's Story: Since I was always the bread winner and master of the household (with lots of your mothers help) I will take
the lead and tell you all about my family and the first few years of my life. On June 28, 1927, probably a warm day, I was
born in the farmhouse at what is now (1997) known as 7352 100th Street near Caledonia, Michigan, to Eugene and Audra (Farnharn) Bergy. In 1986 the farm house was replaced with a new home built by my oldest brother, Howard, and wife Marie . Prior to my arrival a sister and two brothers had arrived: Bernice, Howard and Clifford. So I had plenty of care from everyone. Bernice must have sort of liked me as I remember her telling me things and she always wanted me to be ever so clean. She was always after me to wash my ears with a wash cloth. So I was obedient and did as I was told, if I didn't she did. We had some good times together, but when she got married I felt as though she had deserted me. I was nine years old then. I wanted her to be very happy, but I sure missed her, especially on Sunday evenings as that was a lonely time for me. I guess I never got over this lonely Sunday night thing, as I sometimes
still feel this way if we are not doing something.
But I must tell you about my parents and family. My parents were Eugene Levi and Audra ( no middle name or initial ) ( Farnham) Bergy. They were very good parents to me and all of the family, even though they had some struggles in their married life. The "Great Depression", a house fire and dad's farm accident. The house fire happened two or three years before I was born. The depression, or crash of the stock market, happened two years after I was born. The hardships it created lasted for many years. Dad's accident happened when I was about eleven. My parents married on March 18, 1913. I don't know where they lived when they were first married, but it was in the Fenville area. Soon they moved to the Caledonia area where they spent the rest of their lives. My sister Bernice was the first to arrive in the family on December 7, 1915. I've told how she looked after me in my early years and that she got married, when I was quite young, to Harry Botruff. They were married in Caledonia on August 22, 1936. They had a family of four: Geraldine, Lucille, David and Gloria. I'm sure you remember going to their home in Ionia and having good times with Dave and Gloria since they were near your age. My brother Howard was born on August 15, 1920. He married Marie Graham from Alto on August 15, 1942. Soon after that Howard was drafted into the army. I really missed him when he went away. After he returned from the service they lived in Grand Rapids until they built their home on the farm in 1986. They have a son Dean and a daughter Gail. Cliff was born on August 29, 1923. He married Shirley Bytwork from Grand Rapids, on August 29, 1950. They lived in Caledonia a short time and then in Dutton. Their family was Nancy, Roger, Marcia and Linda. Roger died on August 16, 1975 and Cliff died on June 20, 1986.
Although we didn't do much for recreation, but sometimes play ball, we did do some other fun things. On Wednesday and Saturday nights in the summer there were free outdoor movies in Caledonia that dad took us to when we got the work done. The movies were shown on the side of the building that is now occupied by the barbershop. There was a vacant lot at that time where the Post Office building and restaurant was. The Post Office building is vacant now and the restaurant changed to a dollar store. Well in this vacant lot we sat on benches and watched the movies - a real treat. Another thing the family did was go to Alto to the Bergy Brothers Elevator on Saturday nights in the winter. We had a model T Ford car and I always rode in the back seat and it seemed to me that I was always squeezed in between two others of the family. Oh well, I made it.
Work was a necessity for us since dad was hurt in a farm accident, as I said, I was eleven when this happened. As he was buzzing wood (cutting logs into short pieces to be used for firewood) the belt came off the pulley of the tractor and it wrapped around his left leg. It broke his leg and really mangled other things like the muscle and cartilage in the knee. He spent a lot of time in the Grand Rapids hospital and then in Ann Arbor at the University Hospital. They set his broken leg, but didn't do anything for the rest of the things that were torn and out of place. As the result of these things not being taken care of he had a stiff knee the rest of his life. I don't remember how long a time this was, but maybe about a year and a half. Part of this time he did spend at home and used a wheel chair, but was never able to do any work. Mother was gone a lot of the time to the hospital, so to help out I sometimes would bake chocolate cakes. When one was gone I'd bake another one. Now I wonder what kind of a recipe I used. Us boys had to do all of the farming so you can understand why there was not much time for recreation. I had to milk six cows every night and morning. We didn't have a milking machine until some years later. Milking was never a favorite thing of mine. A lot of the time I had to take care of the chickens, feed them and see that they had plenty of water. Also clean the chicken coop. There were chores to do that were a necessity but not always pleasant to do. There were also pigs to feed and the horses to care for after they had done their work for the day. Horses were used to do all the fieldwork until, I think, about 1942 when we got a 10-20 McCormick Deering tractor. It wasn't a new tractor, but I thought that was really a great thing to have even though Cliff was the one who got to use it. We still had to use the horses to do a lot of the work. Then in 1946 after I was in the army, dad and Cliff bought a Farmall H tractor which was a new one. I never got to use that when it was new because of the time I spent in service. However, before I went to service I had worked for our neighbor, Ed Herman and he had a Farmall H, I thought that was really something to be able to use it. Lots of times I'd cultivate the corn in the morning when the dew was on and then after it dried off I'd take off the cultivator and then worked in the hay, raking and getting ready to put the hay in the barn. Next morning I'd put the cultivator on again and do the same thing that day and several more days until the cultivating and hay making w-as all done .
Before the days of combines we had to cut wheat and oats with a grain binder. The binder cut and tied the grain in bundles.
Then we had to put the bundles in shocks so the grain heads would dry and then could be thrashed. Bill Schroder had a grain separator (thrashing machine) and powered by a steam engine. He went from farm to farm and thrashed for the farmers. Neighbors would come with team and wagon to haul the grain from the field to the machine, which was always near the barn so the straw could be blown in a stack and then the straw was used to bed the cows in the winter. For us we always put the grain in the barn and then waited until September to do the thrashing after everyone else was done. Ours was dry because we always had it in the barn and the neighbors was in the field. I always looked forward to going to the neighbors with the team and wagon to help. The steam engine always fascinated me.
One of the big events of the year was making maple syrup each spring. We had our sugar shanty in the woods then instead of near the house as we had in the later years. We always used the horses to do the gathering as we didn't have a tractor. It was always so muddy, as it always is at that time of the year. We didn't boil it down enough to can, but we brought it to the
house in milk cans and then mother would boil it to the right weight for selling and then can it in quart jars for our use or
put in tin cans for selling. Every year we had a sugar party and invited Uncle Floyd, Uncle Walt and Aunt Rene their spouses and families. We'd have taffy and put it on snow if there was snow and we would stir some into sugar. It was always a fun time. When you are a kid there are some things that you don't want to do.
When dad was in the hospital Howard seemed to have a lot of responsibility and was telling Cliff and I what we should do.
Well this one time we had burnt some brush at the back of the farm and at chore time Howard was going to send me back to check to see that everything was all right. Well I didn't want to go and so I didn't and went to the house where mother told me I didn't have to do that. Well, maybe I should have.
One of my chores was to keep the wood box full of wood for the living room stove and the cook stove. The folks never had a furnace until after I left home. It was my duty to be the "go fer" kid! Anytime something was needed when we were working I was sent to get it, a wrench, a part or whatever. Sometimes we were a long way from the barn and if I didn't get the right thing I had to make another trip. Seemed like an awful chore at that time. All of this took place when I was working with dad before his accident and then with
Howard. I always went to school in Caledonia. First in the old building that no longer is there. In 1940 we moved into the new building, which is now the building nearest to Johnson Street, and in 1941 another building was built north of this one, which was anew high school. It was nice to have new buildings, but I never had much love for school. Maybe part of that was because we never got much encouragement as we were needed to work on the farm. We were needed especially after dad's farm accident. It is interesting that when I was in elementary school some of those who taught were still teaching when you were in school. They were Miss Miller, Mrs. Doornbos and Mrs. Therrien. And in high school Mr. Therrien.
I guess people aren't supposed to be successful without a high school diploma, but I consider I have been. I always enjoyed
delivering feed when I worked at Bergy Brothers. I enjoyed delivering fuel and considered the people not just a customer, but a friend. We were always able to pay our bills, even though at times it was a struggle. We always had a good place to live. We have a great family to enjoy. What more do we need to be successful? At times through my life I guess I have wished I had finished school, but it isn't something I lay awake nights and think about. Irma Snavely (one of our former pastors wife) once said that 20 years of life is equal to a college education. Most people might not agree, but she was a college graduate. Many prominent successful people haven't, for one reason or another, finished their education. If this sounds like an apology for not having finished school, it isn't meant to be. I'm for education and I'm sure you know that. It just didn't work out that way for me.
As I grew up we did not have electricity. This meant that in the wintertime we took a lantern to the barn. However, we tried to do some of the chores before dark if we could. We would get the hay out of the mow for the cows and horses, as well as the silage out of the silo. But we needed the lantern when i t was time to milk because by then it was dark. In the house we had to carry a lamp from room to room. Even up stairs when we went to bed. I don I t remember exactly when we did get electricity, but I think it was in 1940 or 1941 when I was 13 or 14. Without electricity, our facilities were of course out back. The folks probably got a bathroom in the early '50's. I recall another incident. Cliff was in his bed and my bed was by the light switch and I decided one night that I'd turn the light switch off and then try to get into bed before the light was out. Of course this was a foolish idea. I turned the switch and then jumped into bed. Well, I lit hard and the slats of the bed broke and I landed on the floor with a bang. Dad called up to us and wanted to know what was going on. I had to confess what I did. The folks weren't very happy about this.
I must tell you about what I got one year for Christmas. There never was much money to buy any gifts or any thing. Money was scarce. Well I wanted a wagon so I ask the folks if they could send in the catalog and get the wheels and axle. I had been looking at that catalog and had them picked out. I'd make the box if I could just get those wheels. Well, Christmas morning arrived and my gift was those wheels I had ask for. I was really happy. I did make the box and really enjoyed my wagon. As a kid my mind seemed to turn to some mode of transportation. After the wagon I wanted something bigger to ride around in our driveway and yard. Well, there was an old buggy that was no longer used. It was in good running order, however I never remember it being used. I took the box off of it and used the frame. Put a board across on the springs to use for a seat. Then used a rope that I fastened to the front axle to steer this thing. What kind of a vehicle it could be called was beyond me. Maybe it was a "contraption", I don't know, but riding around our place sure was fun. Would you believe this "contraption" thing is now down in the gully where other things have been disposed of. This was used until I could get a bicycle. There wasn't any money for a bike. But, one day the neighbor lady gave me a lamb to raise. I don't know why she gave it to us but I enjoyed raising that lamb. It was bottle fed for a long time. When it was big enough we sold it and I got to buy a bicycle. A dream come true, even if it wasn't a new one, but a good used one. I got it from a lad I went to school with. It cost $12.00. How proud I was to have a bike. First the wagon, a contraption, a bicycle and then a car. Probably I got it in the summer of 1944, not two long before your mother and I started dating. A used car, of course, a black 1933 Plymouth. I thought that was really great to have a car of my own. There wasn't a car anywhere that got washed any more than that did. I worked on the farm at home all of my younger years. Then I worked some with Ed Herman on his farm, ( it is now Finkbeiners farm) and also at the grain elevator in Alto. I worked in the mill some, but mostly delivered feed to farmers and brought back eggs that farmers sold to the elevator. It was when I was doing this that I met your mother and we started dating.
|Barbara Jean McRoberts|
Note: Billy Graham's wife wrote a book titled "It's My Turn". That's the way with me, now it's my turn to relate to you about myself before I met and married your father. I was born on February 23, 1926 to Roy Jennings and Ruth ( no middle name or initial) (Winey) McRoberts. I was born in a lag house. Not like the modern day lag homes, but the logs had been shaped into square logs and mortar between them. The inside of the house was finished and wall- papered and painted. I was third in line of a family of six. Howard is the oldest and was born on April 5, 1920. He married Betty Grubb from New York state and they have lived their married life in that state. They had a family of three: David, Carolyn and James. Olive is my older sister who was born on January 5, 1922. She married Ralph Sells from Muskegon and they lived there. They had a son Robert and a daughter Karen. Ralph died in 1970 and some years later she married Gordon Petyanus who died shortly after they were married. Later she married Don Collier from Sunfield and they live on his farm. My younger sister Marie, born August 14, 1927, married Duane Deardorff and they live in Lake Odessa and have most of their married life. Their family is Jan (Janice), Kim and Dawne. Roy Junior, always known as Bud, was born October 17, 1929. He married Vera Lee from Ohio. They lived in Pennsylvania for a couple of years and then moved to Ohio. Their fam- ily is Rose Ann and Terry. Daniel Joseph, called Joe by us and Dan at his work, was born September 3, 1940. He lived in Traverse City for several years and now in Dutton.
We always had a good time as a family. I guess the most popular game we played was chinese checkers. All the marbles would end up in the middle of the board and not much place to move. But we always worked our way out. We use to play ball too, and sometimes with some of the neighbor kids. A fun time for me was Sunday nights when the young people of the church got together. We didn't have a lot of time for recreation as work took up a lot of our time, chores, housework and such. During the time we lived in the log house, which is on what now is called Darby road just off of M 50, west of Lake Odessa, us kids raised lambs. Only one at a time as they were given to us by some people that lived on another road east of us. Raising them was an experience because some of us (girls) were afraid of them. Sometimes they would try to bunt us as we were on our way to or from our outside privy. Yes, I said an outside toilet. It was oh so cold in the winter. But in warmer weather any one of us girls might have lingered there a while to delay the chore of doing dishes. Doesn't that sound like kids philosophy, putting off some- thing we know we have to do?
We always enjoyed strawberry season. Mother would make a large biscuit shortcake and bake it in a round cake pan. Then cut it in two pieces like a layer cake, then put strawberries on the bottom and then cover it with the top piece and more berries. It was yum yum.
Our father was a minister in the Church of the Brethren, and of course we went to Sunday School and church every Sunday. I always enjoyed it and participated in the activities. I never felt that church was a chore or that it was something I wished I didn't have to attend. I always had the desire to be there and to learn more about living a Christian life in the way Christ wants us to live. When I was twelve I was baptized and joined the church. The Thornapple church didn't have a baptistery so baptisms were held at the creek just a little ways west of the church. Some times the folks would take us to other churches when dad was helping with a service there. The folks took each of us at least one time to our churches Annual Conference. Although Howard has no recollection of going to conference. District Conference we attended with the folks as much as we could. We went to the Thornapple Church, which was located at the corner of what is now called Darby road and Campbell road. It was not a very large congregation. It was a country church as many of the Church of the Brethren congregations were. When I was a teenager we had young peoples meetings on Sunday evenings, but during the week we didn't have very much in church activities. Your grandpa was the pastor there for twenty-five years. In 1942 the church secured a summer pastor and then they had someone else after the summer was over. It was in 1947 that your grandpa accepted the call to the Marilla church and was there pastor for twenty five years. He was in the Free Ministry, which means that a minister makes his living at some other occupation and receives a small amount for his time on Sundays and the visiting one does in the congregation and visiting the sick. At the time of his ministry this was very common. However, by the time he left Thornapple the paid ministry was coming into being (but not at the Marilla church).
Farming was what dad did for a living for the family. Later in his life he drove truck. Farming was done with horses and I remember when I was probably Junior High age I drove one of the teams once in a while. I wasn't very fond of doing that because the team had been known to run away. I was fortunate, they never did when I drove them. It wasn't because of my skill but just that it never happened. I didn't like driving them when we were making hay because of the snakes or mice that might come up with the hay as the hay loader brought it up onto the wagon. I also milked cows in the summer time when Howard and dad were helping with the thrashing of grain for the neighbors and also our grain.
We moved from the log house in the winter of 1936 to Campbell road about a mile east of the Thornapple church. I really don't remember too much about the move except we did a lot of moving with the horses and the sleigh. We did have to change schools during the year even though we moved only about two miles, but into another school district. That was quite an adjustment for me.
Electricity came to our community sometime in the early 40' s. Dad was renting the farm on which we lived and the land owner chose not to wire the house and buildings for electricity, so that meant we still used the kerosene lamps in the house and gas lanterns that we took to the barn for light. I guess we were a bit jealous as we looked out at night and seen all of the neighbors yard lights. During my high school years the folks moved to another place and that place had electricity and when I went to live with my grandparents to finish high school, they had electricity. What a nice thing that was. I went to country school through the 8th grade. What is a country school? I guess all the one-room schools were in the country rather than in towns so, "country school". One teacher for all eight grades. I really liked school. Besides the usual studies we sometimes did some fun things, like arithmetic (you'd call it math) contests. This was with addition and subtraction. I always liked arithmetic and I did well in those contests. If you'll let me brag a bit, one time when I was in the fifth grade I beat an eighth grader. We had spelling bee's too. That was fun and I was looking forward to contests with other schools, but about the time I was old enough to participate, the contest was changed to a reading contest and I was not a good enough reader
to participate in that contest. Oh well, we can't get through life without some disappointments. One year while I was in "country school" I received a certificate for neither being tarty nor absent for six months. Another year I received a certificate for neither being tarty nor absent for the entire school year. Small tokens, but I was very proud.
Then came high school. What a change for someone who had been in country school. No such thing as a tour to introduce us to how things would be as we entered this new world. Most of our freshman class lived in Lake Odessa where the high school was and they all knew one another because of going through the grades together. This was a very hard adjustment for me. But somehow I made it. I was in the band and played the clarinet. We played at the basketball home games, which I enjoyed very much. Of course we had concerts and played at other events. Always at the Memorial Day parade and the Fourth of July celebration. I received a letter in band. We had three band teachers during my four years in high school. Three of those years were during World War II and many of the teachers were drafted. Besides the required subjects I took all the math I could also took shorthand, bookkeeping and typing., History and chemistry were okay, but I wondered why I needed chemistry. World history was very hard to understand and English definitely was not my favorite subject. The teacher was very good and knew her subject, but it was very hard for me. Math, shorthand, bookkeeping and typing was my favorites and I did well in these subjects. I did all right in all subjects, but had to work harder at some than I I did in others.
During my last three years in high school I stayed with my grandparents, Elmer and Anna Winey. The folks had moved and I didn't want to change schools so I stayed with them. They lived on M 50 west of Lake Odessa about five miles. Then came graduation time with our Baccalaureate in the Methodist church in Lake Odessa on Sunday evening prior to our Thursday night graduation in the high school gym. Our caps and gowns were blue with a white tassel. Graduation was on June 1, 1944. I did get an award that night, which was the Citizenship Award, I was really surprised that I received it, but proud too. At that time there was no such thing as an open house for friends and relatives. We just graduated and some close relatives came and maybe some friends. And now like all other graduates, out into the real world to find out if what we learned could be applied. I always spent weekends and summers at home, but after graduation I went home to live with the rest of the clan. Although some had already left home. Olive had married Ralph and Howard had gone to New York state into Alternative service. There he tested milk and from the results would plan a diet for the cows. Even the animals seem to need a diet. Of course, this was for better milk production.
Now that school was over I needed to get a job, which I found at Bergy Brothers Grain Elevator in Alto, grading eggs for size and quality. It was while I was working there that I met my "knight in shining armor". Well I met your father. He also worked there driving truck making deliveries of feed to farmers. We started dating in September 1944. Often we would go to the movies, usually in Lowell. Since I lived near Alto, Lowell was the closest. Tickets to the movies were 35 cents each. This of course was in 1944-45. We usually stopped at a gas station on our way home to have a dish of ice cream. I guess they had a restaurant along with the station, but it definitely was not a convenient store like we now have. His car was a 1933 Plymouth, his pride and joy even though he had to stop periodically and pour some brake fluid in so the brakes would work. Why not put a master cylinder on and have it fixed? Lack of money, of course. We dated until November 11, 1945 when we were married.
Keith and Jean's Story: (Mother) Our wedding was at my parents home on Pratt Lake Road southeast of Alto. Our parents, brothers and sisters were present. Also Geraldine, Lucille and David (just a baby) Botruff. Marie Bergy was there, but Howard was still in service, so he was unable to attend, as well as my brother Howard as he was in New York state in alternative service. My father married us. Sometime later the folks had a reception for us inviting the church and some friends. Most weddings at that time were small weddings with the parents having a reception some time later. Ralph and Olive made our wedding cake, which was an angel food cake that your father requested because he liked it so well. We probably had ice cream too, but I don't remember that. We didn't have a honeymoon, didn't have money for that as well as we needed to work to have grocery money and other necessities. We lived with my folks for two or three weeks until we got an apartment in Alto.
(Dad) In January, about two months after we were married, I went into the army. During the time your mother and- I had been dating, World War II ended. That was a very joyous time for everyone. Gas had been rationed but when people heard the news of the end of the war, a lot of people drove around honking horns and rejoicing. It is very sad that countries can't settle their differences through talks and negotiations instead of the loss of so many lives. There are many scars today even though the war has been over for more than 50 years. The war was over but men were still being drafted. Although I didn't have to serve during the war, I still served almost two years after the war was over. I reported to the induction center in Detroit and from there I went to Little Rock, Arkansas. We had Quainset huts for barracks. The weather was very cold, rainy and damp all of the time I was there. It snowed some, too. The weather reminded me of sugar making time. I was there until late in March when I finished Basic Training, after which I had a ten day furlough. Oh, was I ever glad to get home. Army life was never for me, but I still had almost two years to be there. When I had to report back Howard, Marie, the folks and your mother took me to the train station in Chicago. I had to report to Blackstone, Virginia. Got there about the first week in April and was there for about three weeks. They had intended to send us over seas, but since most of us were drafted and had less than two years to serve, we weren't sent. So we were shipped from Virginia to Fort Lewis, Washington, clear across the states. It took us a whole week to get there. We spent a lot of time on the siding, as troop trains were not a priority as the freight and passenger trains were. Freight went mostly by rail and not truck as it does now, and a lot of people traveled by train. As I remember we got to Fort Lewis about the first or second week of May. What I liked best there was the newer brick barracks. Well, I got settled in and did some training. I was placed in the Second Infantry Division in the heavy weapons company.
(Mother) During the time your dad was in Arkansas I continued working at the elevator and lived in the apartment in Alto. Sometime after his 10-day furlough I quit the elevator and went to Muskegon and lived with Olive and Ralph and worked in a sewing factory. My job was making flaps for pockets for jackets.
(Dad) When I came home in July on a 30-day furlough we planned that your mother would go back with me. We'd drive our 1941 Chevy coupe that we had purchased soon after we were married. (Dad and Mother ) It was about the first of August when we headed for Washington State. We had the car loaded with a few belongings and took some food to eat so we didn't have to stop all of the time as well as it was less expensive. Your Uncle Bud, who was 16 at the time, went with us. On our way out we all rode in the front seat. Bud spent a lot of time leaning over the seat to reach the food in the back. Seemed he was always hungry and still today claims we never stopped to buy anything to eat. However, we did. After we got to Tacoma, our destination, we got a motel. Seems we must have thought there was only one and we needed to take the first one we saw. It was not a very nice one. It had and odor and was dark and dingy. Next day we found a much nicer one. Bud stayed about three days and took a train home. I think he enjoyed the trip with us and a train ride home. Our intent was to find a more permanent place to live and then I (mother) would find a job. We were very fortunate and found the combination of the two. We answered an ad in the paper for a person to take care of a 2 and 4 year old boy and girl. The ad stated that a young couple would be considered. We were the first of many to answer the ad and he chose us for the care of his two children. We lived with the father and two children with no expenses of rent, lights or groceries. Each week he'd give me (mother) $25.00 to buy groceries. At that time $25.00 would buy a LOT of groceries. We thought we were really living it up. It wasn't a real beautiful home, but it was very convenient and very nice for a couple of country kids that never had the convenience of indoor plumbing and a sink instead of a dish pan to wash dishes in. We really had it very nice.
(Dad) Each morning of the week I was up at 4:45 to report to camp. Our days were spent on the rifle range or some other kind of training. I felt we never did do anything important. In November of 1946 I went on maneuvers. We left camp and went to Seattle and left there by boat, went down to San Diego, California. Our purpose was to land on the beach with our heavy weapons, mortors, machine guns and rifles. It was a practice landing with some difficulties. We were there for a month practicing different things and returned to Seattle and back to Fort Lewis. Glad that was over. During the time I was in Tacoma I lived off the base and it was pretty much like anyone that goes to their job each morning and returns at the end of the work day.
(Dad and Mother) It was Christmas away from home this year. We only remember that we wished we could have been home. Can't even remember who we spent the day with, but probably with the two children, their father and same of their friends. Drive In movies and drive thru fast food places were becoming the "in thing". So movies and food was a big part of our recreation. The weather in that part of Washington state is far more mild than in Michigan or even the eastern part of that state. They have very little snow but of course the year that we were there we had 12" of very wet snow. It didn't last long, melted very soon. Not many knew how to drive in snow. It rains a lot in the winter. In the summer when the temperature got to 87 degrees they thought that was very hot. The year round weather there is very nice.
On April 21, 1947 Bob was born in Madigan General Hospital on the army base. A well and healthy baby. (Dad) I had reported at camp that morning and didn't know that some of our friends had taken your mother to the hospital. When I came in from the rifle range I got the message that we had a son. I guess all the guys in the barracks thoughht I should be turning cartwheels or something. But I have a more quiet way of expressing my happiness. I sat down and cleaned my rifle and when I was dismissed I went to the hospital to see mother and baby. (Mother) I was in the hospital for a week, that was the usual length of time that a mother and new born stayed. I was home for just a few days when I got infection and had to return to the hospital. The big question was what can we do with Bob? (Dad) I went to talk to my 1st Sergeant to ask if I could have time to find someone to take care of Bob. Well, the answer was right there. He called his wife and ask if she would look after him and she gladly said yes. She gave him good care and was very capable as they had a family of five. Your mother was in the hospital a few days and then home again. I was scheduled to go on maneuvers at Yakima Valley, which is about in the center of the state of Washington. The troops had left before I had gotten your mother out of the hospital, so I had permission to drive there. The maneuvers lasted for about two weeks and finished on a Friday. We would be there for the weekend before returning to Fort Lewis on the next Monday. Some times I do have some luck. The 1st Sergeant came to me and ask if I would like to leave and take another officer, back to camp as it was the officers anniversary. Well of course I'd be happy to do just that. I didn't have to spend the weekend with the troops, but was home with Bob and your mother. I guess when there isn't any war and it's peacetime some of the army personnel are not so strict. I was in the army until August 1947. Officially being discharged on August 19th. However, having furlough time coming I was able to be released in late July.
(Dad and Mother) Bob was three months old when we started our trek home from Washington. That little club coupe was as FULL as anyone could get it. We had a basket for Bob and we had it in the back seat with all the other things needed on a trip. And we just put things in the trunk loose, no room for boxes or anything like that. Bob could sleep in his basket or I could lean over the seat and get him out and hold him. No seat belts then to interfere with moving around. We planned to go south into California and see some sights, maybe even as far south as San Francisco. We traveled along the coast and saw the rocky coast line of the Pacific. That surprised us as we thought it would be sandy beach all the way, but it wasn't and was very rocky. We went through the Redwood forest, what tall trees and one tree hollowed out so cars could drive through it, and of course we drove through it. We didn't make it to San Francisco, we suddenly decided we wanted to go home, so we headed east. Went through Reno, Nevada, which at that time was the big gambling place. Of course we didn't choose to do any of that. Might not have had the money to get home if we had been losers. Wouldn't have gambled anyway. Nevada was the most desolate place in the world it seemed to us. But then there was the beautiful corn fields father east. The east seems so much more beautiful, than parts of the west. We got home on the 7th of August. A funny thing happened the last few miles coming home. We got lost between Grand Rapids and the folk's farm. Seems laughable now, but it wasn't then. We were tired from traveling and to be that near home and get lost was quite disgusting. I (mother) had never been from Grand Rapids to the farm and I (dad) didn't recognize changes in some of the roads, but we finally got there.
(Dad) Very soon after we were home I started working in the grain elevator in Alto again. I think we got home late in the week and I started working the next Monday. We rented a house across the road from the elevator. It was very handy for work. I guess all my life I have lived very close to work and never drove over two miles to a job. At the elevator we started at 7:00 AM and. worked until 6:00 PM six days a week. I drove truck most of the time delivering feed to farmers and picking up eggs that the farmers sold to the elevator. The elevator sold eggs and chickens to a market in Detroit and some times I drove the truck there, but that trip was not my favorite thing to do. Although I didn't really dread going on that trip. My wages were $24.00 a week. We managed okay paying our heating, electric, rent and groceries, although it was sometimes a struggle. We lived with what we had. Little by little wages went up and eventually I was making $45.00 a week. In September 1948 I had appendicitis surgery, and was off work for awhile but recovered on schedule and was back to work.
While we lived in Alto Betty was born on February 1, 1949 in Blodgett hospital in Grand Rapids. A healthy and happy baby. Our second bundle of joy. Cliff and your grandpa Bergy were farming, but Cliff wanted to do something else rather than to farm. He went to work for the Caledonia elevator in Dutton. I started farming with my dad at that time. When I quit the elevator in Alto and started farming we moved to a house a little west of the farm. I only did that for a year and went to work for the elevator in Caledonia. Howard, Cliff and I did the farming for the folks, mostly in the evenings after our day I work where we were employed. I was at the elevator about a year when George Statsick offered me a job of delivering fuel to farmers and home heating oil with the Standard Oil Company. After pondering that a while I decided to do that and you know that I vas in that business for nearly 41 years. I worked with Russ Taylor as a Driver salesman 23 years and then 18 years as owner of Caledonia Oil Company. Russ retired when Amoco (or Standard Oil) decided to sell their Bulk Plants, and that was September 1, 1976 when we purchased it. (Dad and Mother) After I (dad) started working for the elevator we moved to Caledonia and lived in the house that was my (dad) grandparents (Farnham) house at 213 Weat Main Street. Soon after we moved there we purchased the house. We lived there for 21 years, until 1973 when we built our house on the north west corner of my (dad) parents farm. I believe you two were 3 and 5 years old when we moved to Caledonia. It was very convenient to live close to school. When you were in high school it was always convenient for your friends who lived out of town to be invited by you to spend their time after school, until a ballgame or other school activity, to our home. That was why on game nights we always had either Hot Dogs, Bar-B-Q's or hamburgers. There was enough no matter how many had been invited. Did you realize that was always our menu on Friday nights? I think we all have fond memories of the years we lived there. The Buer family next door, the Scott's across the street, having Eva as our exchange student and many other events. It was also a good place to watch a parade, as they always started up at the school.
(Mother) In 1957 I took a part time job at the Caledonia Elementary school cafeteria. I worked part time for 8 years and then full time for 6 years. It was very convenient to work at school as we were close and I walked to work, as well as when you were home, I was too. I quit at the end of the school year in 1971. I enjoyed being home for about a year and a half, and then took a part time job at the Food Locker. I worked there until we purchased the oil company on September 1, 1976. Then it was office work and bookkeeping, which I enjoyed very much.
(Dad and Mother) You both were very small when we went to the Thornapple Church of the Brethren. Carl Welch was the pastor there at that time, but your grand father McRoberts had been the pastor of that congregation for 25 years. When we moved to Caledonia, I (mother) took you to the Methodist church, but Thornapple was where we preferred to go. In 1953 the neighboring church, Elmdale Church of the Brethren, burned and our congregation invited that congregation to worship with us. Since both congregations were small, the two decided to merge and chose the name of "Hope" for this newly formed congregation. At that time it was decided to build a new building. Stephen Weaver (Duane Deardorff's uncle) donated the land where the Hope church and parsonage were built. It is at the Kent and Ionia counties line on M 50. Duane's grandfather, Charles Deardorff, was the Church of the Brethren Denominational architect at that time, so he was the person who drew up the plans for the church. A contractor was hired, but a lot of the labor was donated by the members and friends of the congregation. A short time before the building was completed the Thornapple building burned. Sunday morning worship services were held in the basement until the building was completed. The Easter Sunrise Service on April 10, 1955 was the first service in the Sanctuary. Betty you were baptized in 1960, as well as some others. And Bob and I (dad) was baptized in 1961 and some others were at that time too. Ronnie Moore was the pastor when all of these joined the church. (Dad) I was never taken to church or Sunday school when I was young. When your mother and I started dating was when I first went anywhere to church. I always had the impression that my folks never went to church until later in their lives, but I found out (I think Bernice told us) that my mother went to the Gaines United Brethren church west of Caledonia before her and dad got married. I don't know about my dad, but after they were married they went to church (the building is not there now) somewhere northeast of Caledonia. Then there was a period of time , when I was growing up they didn't go. Later they went to East Caledonia Methodist until services were no longer held there, then they joined the Parrnalee Methodist.
(Dad and Mother) We as parents tried to be responsible to take you to church and we tried (and are still trying) to be good examples to you as well as all we come in contact with through life. We admit we have failed many times, but the secret is never to give up. Just keep on keeping on. We never as a family made a practice of reading from the Bible each day as we now do. We let you down in this way, but we hope you are now practicing this very valuable daily instruction from God's word with your family. What we learn from God's word and how we apply it to our everyday life is the important thing. We are who we are, but only by God's direction and patience with us. We have made our share of mistakes, but hopefully we have influenced you in some right directions.
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