My mother’s parents, (Grandpa) Frank Porter Burch, and (Grandma) Bertha Marie Burch lived on the corner of West Railroad Street and Telegraph St. In Dowagiac, MI. We lived next door on Telegraph Street in what used to be Grrandpa’s old grocery store.
My father was a builder and he had a lot to do with making it into a comfortable little place for us to live on Telegraph St. near West Railroad Street.
I attended the Oak Street Elementary school while in the first and second grade.
I recall many times we would go someplace or just be out for a drive and Daddy would point out places he had helped build. One place that I especially remember was a home that was on the road from Dowagiac to Niles. The house was round and had two stories and he told us that the rooms were pie shaped. I alway wanted to see the inside and was so proud, each time we passed it over the years, to think that my Daddy had helped build this unique home.
Our next home was a few blocks across the railroad tracks to Sherwood St. My mother did interior decorating for a contractor and it was one of the homes he built. I only remember four events during the time we lived on Sherwood Street.
Once was when I was very sick with bronchial asthma and I also had problems with constipation so I had a tall glass of prune juice, which I really liked, sitting on my dresser next to the bed. When the doctor made a house call to check me out and wanted to take my temperature he dipped the thermometer into my prune juice and said, “ Here, Jane, your coke will make this taste better”.
He was pretty alarmed when I told him that it was prune juice and then he said, with great surprise, “Prune juice! That much!” and looked at my mother waiting for an explanation. My mother explained that I loved prune juice and that it also had medicinal purposes for my chronic bowel problem.
The second thing was the time that some of the children in school had head lice of which I was unaware and needless to say, some of those little varmints lodged in my very curly long hair. Before we realized what was wrong I thought I would absolutely go crazy with my head itching. I asked Mother to wash my hair which she did, but I still complained even more and she was quite disturbed when she realized that I had head lice. She contacted the school in the morning and they said that I must have gotten them at school because there were several cases of them. Mother was upset about that because of my tangly long curls. We had quite a time getting rid of the lice and eggs. In those days we did not have the preparations that are available to us these days.
Mother used a black tarry like ‘gunk’ and it seemed like she washed my hair more times than I could count and each time using a really fine toothed comb to try to remove the eggs from my curly tresses.
Years later when I was teaching school and some of the students who had hamsters came in with head lice so bad that I saw them in the hair of one of the girls while listening to her oral reading. At first I though she had mosquitoes in her hair and then I saw a lot of them. That night I went home and gave myself a permanent, not that I needed curl, just thought that would kill them for sure. For the next few weeks every time that I felt the least little tickle in my hair I was fearful that I might have head lice. Thankfully that never transpired.
The third thing I remember was when I was doing my home work while learning to address an envelope. When it came time to put the stamp on I remember learning from my mother that the three on the stamp meant that it cost three cents. That was when I learned that it actually cost something to send a letter.
Finally, I remember when my mother was at work and daddy was home with us and we had just retired for the evening and my daddy came into our rooms and asked me, my sister, Sue and my brother, Larry to get up and come to the bathroom. Went we got there he asked each of us if we had flushed something down the toilet earlier that day. We each look innocently at one another of and then each of us pleaded complete innocence. My daddy always spoke very softly and he told us that if someone did not tell the truth he would spank all of us. Of course when each of us denied it continually he finally paddled us and sent us to bed. It wasn’t a very hard spanking that I recall. Perhaps he felt he would get a confession and since none of us took the responsibility for the deed he had some doubts himself and felt he must do as he said he would.
Then what seemed to me the middle of the night he awakened us and with tears on his face he apologized to each of us. When mother got home and he told her what had happened she informed him that she was the one who had plugged the stool earlier that day and then thought it was okay when she left for work.
Truthfully, the thing that I remember most about that incident was the fact that my father felt so badly about it and apologized to us. This caused me to have a great respect for him and no hard feelings at all about the spanking. I loved my “Daddy”.
My parents both had jobs and were hard workers and provided well for us. I do not recall attending church anytime during those early years but I learned the importance of an apology when necessary and forgiveness when wronged.
Proverbs 25:11-13 (KJV) “11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. 12 As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”