The Idea

Large Scale Portraits of people with a lot of life experience that integrate the actual words of their stories into the lines and wrinkles of their faces.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inez- Transcript

Inez, 93


You see I'm 93 so that would mean I was born in 1918. I've had a lot of good times in my life. I've been fortunate not to have a lot of sadness. I had an Irish father if you get what I mean. He was just a charmer.

I was born in a little town called Fremont, Michigan and I had one friend that just couldn't resist asking me every time I was in front of someone she thought was important, she would always say, "Inez, where were you born?"  to let them know I was from the North Country and I wasn't born with what she thought was a golden spoon. Oh, I had a silver spoon. So Fremont, Michigan- and that in case you don't know is Gerber Foods. My father was on the board with all the growing people and he was in charge of all of the growing gardens. Imagine. And so if one garden turned up a silly big he was the engineer to see that the plants were proper.

I did have three sisters and one brother. All that's left is one brother.

We all loved to sing and dance. I learned to dance on my dad's shoes. We did it all our lives The minute our cousins came in we'd start harmonizing.  And, I want you to know I went on to become the best girl dancer in my senior class. We used to have Sunlight Dances. Just as soon as school is out you go into the gymnasium and then the orchestra director has a band and they go in and just start playing and then the students that want to dance and learn how and just have fun go to the gymnasium and just dance and then we had to be out - it was just an hour and a half - and we had to be out by 5:30. And our gym teacher would help those that were struggling, but I never struggled at all because my mom and dad were dancers. They loved it and my mother played the piano and my grandmother . My grandfather was a violinist and they had a little combo. So we were always in the midst of singing and dancing. It made for a fun life. My other had a basket as we were babies and she would put us in the cloakroom in the basket while they were singing and dancing- when we were tiny.

I started to teach my boys and they said, "Oh, mother." These darn men.

They were more into skiing and boating. We were in the boat business.

My mother was a very good cook. My father would take us ice skating down to a neighbor pond- and we would come back and all our friends and my mother would have hot pork or hot beef sandwiches and cake for all of us. Sometimes there would be 4, sometimes 5, sometimes 10 or 12. But my mom always seemed to have a way of stretching it. That was her part of our entertainment. And, oh we had famous Halloween parties in our attic.

We went to a one room schoolhouse with about 40 students. One time our double quartet- there was a county contest and so our teacher said, "Well, why don't we just try out." And I would like to tell you that we took our turn and we beat the dickens out of East Grand Rapids! And that is the honest to God's truth!

I died a year ago. Yeah, I died but they brought me right back. I was standing on a little balcony outside a hotel window talking to them and they didn't realize that all the medications... I was in California, I didn't care.  Then they asked me if I wanted to die. The doctor said, "We have a problem, you're not doing too well." He said,  "Would you like to go." But I said,  "No, I feel fine. I feel great." But I didn't know what they meant, do you want to go.

I was sharp. I loved Latin if you can believe it. That's a tough one I'll tell ya.

 I wrote a pageant one time. I was in the fourth grade. I wrote the whole thing and all the parts. Why I even decided which music should be sang along with the pageant. It was about life growing up with a mom and dad and how sad it was when the children left home.

When nobody's listening, I sing.

My oldest sister played the trumpet. My next sister was left handed and so she got to take piano lessons which I was dying for and because I was tall and skinny What do you suppose I wound up with? Violin. I didn't like that. I wanted to play the piano. That's why.  So I picked up piano for my own fun. My Mother was very generous with her trio. She'd say, "Oh, you'd like to have the girls? Oh, okay." It was nerve wracking. You never know when you might go off key and that was one thing I just couldn't stand - off key, I just couldn't stand it.

My sister never made mistakes with her trumpet she wound up playing with the Union High band . So, of course I was never to be outdone. So, seven of us in high school decided to be Grand Rapids' first song leaders. So, for the years I was in high school I was one of the song leaders and that was fun.  But I didn't have to play my darn violin, I tell ya!

Mother wanted to know if I wanted to go on to college and I said Marcia and Lenore didn't go on to college you're not going to spend that money on me. But, I said if I could continue education in business I'd like that so I graduated from Lucian's private secretarial school after high school. I was secretary to three men. It was wonderful because a private secretary not only takes all the letters in short hand, types them up, and sends them on. They do all the invoicing and they do all the private letter writing for the bosse. But, also, wives would call and say, "Inez, Phil has to take a pill every 4 hours, would you be sure to remind him?" So I would have to say, "Phil, time for your pill."

I was fortunate. My husband didn't believe in women working unless it was for his sake. He had a big factory- the Wagemaker Boat Company - which had been a family business. It had been office furniture and then he switched it to the boat business and he became the largest builder of small boats in the world- just thousands, thousands, thousands.

He followed me around until one day a friend of mine says, "Why is it you won't accept a date with him? He's such a nice person." I don't know. One thing was he was 14 years older. But I didn't care. I wasn't interested. I don't know how much longer it was he called and said, "It's valentines day. May I pick you up and take you to dinner?" I said, "Oh, for heaven's sakes, alright!"  So he picked me up at 6:30 and took me to dinner and brought me a box of candy. He had a couple of posies of some kind that he handed to my mother. And guess where he took me after dinner- to the Boxing Matches! Oh, I laughed because, you know, I was used to going out dancing. But it was fun- something to do. But in just talking with him I could see- his mother had passed away recently and he had graduated from North Western- his father had passed away earlier- He was quite established in the boat business. I don't know how many - two or three years I think we dated. 

Boating is a fun life.  We were married 25 years.

I found my sister a husband, got rid of her! Well, she was always stealing my boyfriends- tried to steal my husband.

 I loved that he was independent and both feet on the ground - very pleasant looking- not what you'd call deadly handsome- but he was just tall -big guy- beautifully dressed. He was known as one of the best dressed men in Grand Rapids. He just had gorgeous clothes and he also  had gorgeous cars. That was most important. He had a Chrysler convertable. He was really something. It was one of those things- I wasn't out looking for a guy or anything like that.

I loved my girlfriends. I met a couple of gals that didn't have any girlfriends.... I always had a lot of girlfriends. I had never thought about it until many years later that all  my life my closest friends were my church buddies. They definitely helped when my husband died.

When I had my boys life just grew more fun because I had an opportunity to be childish if I wanted to be- to be silly. We were fortunate and very comfortable we had a gorgeous home- 29 rooms- we did things with our children. We had a cottage in Grand Haven. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have my boys. Now, wouldn't I be miserable?  I hoped that they would not be spoiled that they would be down to earth real men and that they would appreciate the nice things in life and that they would be good men- good guys- and that's exactly what I got- good guys.

I was very fortunate. My husband was successful. My big deal was I enjoyed working with women . In church we had our circles and I was president 3 or 4 times- we all had to take turns. Then, some older ladies took me under their wings- "Inez do this, Inez come with me, Inez why don't you do this would you" -  I would go to meetings with them and they just pushed me, They were darling women- I just loved them to pieces I had the Spizzerinkdom- the pizazz, the pep, the courage- and it takes courage to lead a group because you have to do careful planning and not appear to be pushing. .Just appear to let it happen and always be yourself. But you had all the work you had to do to let those things run smoothly. I was very fortunate. Ladies literary club- that club was 130 years old and had a beautiful clubhouse. I was president 9 or ten years all  together.  I was president of the women's board at Butterworth Hospital. At one point I was in charge of all hospital guilds for Western Michigan and I also was in charge of all garden clubs in Western Michigan and I also was a flower show judge that was the most important part. I wanted to learn what the details were on how detailed you had to be to do an arrangement and win ribbons and you have to win the blue ribbons to be a judge. I loved flower design I really loved it.  I'm not actually a competitive person. I want others to be happy and win and do but if I happen to win over them, well, good! Next time try harder! I just do the best I know how and hope every body else does.

I have some gals and I look at each one of them and think if I hadn't pushed them they'd have never joined.  It makes me so happy that I was able to start them in the right direction.

I'm a little bit nutty. Nobody knows that my no, they sure don't know that!

Never say hate. Never ever let your heart get so upset that you hate. I think this is really important.

My idea of success is happiness. If you can see something you can do for somebody else you do it. You have no idea how happy I am when I can make perfect oatmeal cookies. Giving something- that's true happiness.

I want to be remembered that I was fun. I wanted people around me to enjoy life and to be lighthearted but if they have a problem, know that I will do everything to advise them to help them. I do like people. So many times there's just something you can do that's just right within your reach that you can do and it would be difficult for them.

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