I was born on August 27, 1915 in Wilmington, Vermont where my parents were living temporarily. My mother, Florence Pendleton, was born on Whitman Avenue in Melrose, but my father was from Pennsylvania.
In 1911 the lumber mill where he worked was flooded out and he was sent to their Boston office. One of his mother's cousins lived in Melrose and found a place for him and his mother to live. While singing in the choir at the Highlands Congregational Church, he met my mother. They married in 1914, just as he was sent to Vermont to straighten out a floundering lumber business. Once this was accomplished, they returned to Melrose in 1918. They rented on Crystal Street until buying a house on Youle Street in 1919. This is where I grew up.
My parents moved to Gardner Massachusetts in 1935, but I lived just up the street with the parents of my best friend until I graduated from Wheelock College in 1937. Shortly before graduating, I became engaged to another Melrosian, Harry Crouss.
My first job was as a kindergarten teacher for South End Settlement in Boston. No public kindergartens in those days! My school room was at their Harrison Avenue building, but I lived in their triple brownstone house on Union Park. Employees received free room, five evening meals, and five dollars per week. Besides my preschool class I did home visits, tutoring for people preparing to become citizens, and all sorts of classes for young people after school and in evenings.
The war had begun, causing Harry to lose his business. I decided I needed a better income -- so I managed to get into a couple of classes per week at Boston University. This gave me a degree and I was able to obtain a teaching position in Barre, Mass. in September 1941. By June of 1943 we were able to be married. We first lived in an apartment in Belmont where Harry could commute to his job in Cambridge. No new stoves, no phones, no new refrigerators, no autos to be had! Gasoline, like many foods, was rationed. Being a married woman I was no longer permitted a permanent teacher's position. However I could substitute, and I did so.
Finally by 1950 when the world situation had become more normal, we were able to buy a car, and a house! Naturally we returned to our old hometown, Melrose. I taught in private daycare centers. We always vacationed in Maine.
Harry died suddenly in 1968. Some cities had public kindergarten by this time, and I managed to get a job in nearby Malden. I retired in 1979.
I have always been active in church work, as was Harry. We hosted teachers from Italy and Germany through the Experiment in International Living, as well as college students from many countries who came to Melrose during their Christmas vacation. The organization Christmas International House, kept me busy for fifty years, during which time some 700 students from a total of 100 countries visited Melrose. Because of these connections I have visited Europe several times. Another church outreach resulted in our having a "son" named Donald, with whom I now spend my whole summer in Maine.
April 27, 2007
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