Yesterday would have been my Grandma Thompson’s 100th birthday…I can’t think of a more appropriate day to do a tribute to her than the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day! I learned so much about life from both my Grandma and my mom (her daughter)!
Martha Alinette Taylor was the third child of five born to Lewis A. Taylor and Marie C. (Auer) Taylor. She was born March 7, 1911 at home in Marysville, Ohio. She was called “Martha” as a child, but preferred “Alinette” as an adult (“Alinette” was a combination of her grandmothers’ names: Alice and Annette). When Grandma was about four, the family moved to her Grandma Taylor’s farm, about 8 miles from Marysville on the Beecher Side Road (her Grandma was Alice Beecher Taylor, a distant cousin of the “famous” Beechers). The farm was quite a shock for Grandma’s mom (my Mamma), who had grown up with all the modern conveniences in town, and was not accustomed to houses with no running water, no electricity, no furnace, and no indoor plumbing! The family shared the farmhouse with dozens of rats and mice too!
Grandma’s dad started on the farm with hogs, but then switched to sheep farming. He also raised Border Collies specifically to work livestock. One of his dogs, Rex, was a regular performer at the Ohio State Fair, and got so famous that he was even used in a national film! Sadly, Rex was killed by a car when he was only 5 years old.
As a girl in high school, Grandma’s teachers always wanted her to become a teacher, but she had her heart set on office work: when her Dad cleaned out his desk, she’d go through the wastebasket and salvage papers she could play “office” with! Grandma and her mom were always close…Grandma’s teenaged friends were shocked when she told them she’d ask her mother if they had questions about S-E-X…they wouldn’t think of posing the questions to their own mothers!
After graduation from high school, Grandma was given two scholarships from local colleges, but her dad didn’t have the money for her to go, and Grandma wasn’t healthy enough to work part-time while she went to school. She took part of a correspondence course in office work (typing and shorthand), before being offered a secretary/bookkeeper job with the Farm Bureau. It was September, 1931…the salary was $40 a month. Grandma took the position, and moved into a room near the office. Her boss, a “Mr. Bear”, was initially not keen on her being hired, and co-workers told her he tried to get her to quit by piling on the work. Grandma did it anyway. She worked there for 3 and 1/2 years, and when she was gone, they hired TWO women to take her place!
When she wasn’t working, Grandma was a bit lonely…she’d heard that her old piano teacher, Jennie Sherwood, had opened a music school in her home nearby, and that Miss Sherwood was staging dramatic productions there. Grandma took some drama lessons, and it was at one of the shows that she met my Grandad, Lewis C. Thompson…he was the good-looking stage manager! The two were talking backstage, and Grandad was so absorbed, he missed his cue to open the curtain! He didn’t ask her out that night, but Grandma noticed that the Floyd’s Dairy milk truck he drove seemed to go by her office a lot during the day…Grandad honked and waved every time. It was two weeks before he asked her out…it wasn’t long before Grandma’s milkman was “her milkman”! They used to put notes to each other in the empty milk bottles, and Grandma rigged her bedroom light with a string so that when Grandad went by at 4:30 a.m. and honked, she’s turn the light on and off in response.
Grandma and Grandad were married on September 21, 1934 in an evening ceremony at her family’s farm…it was an intimate affair…her parents couldn’t afford a big wedding! The couple went on to have four daughters: Geraldine (Jerry) in 1935, Dorothy (Dottie – my mom) in 1939, Judy in 1942, and Connie in 1954 (she was a happy surprise!). Both worked full-time for many years: Grandma became the accountant at Mary Rutan Hospital in Bellefontaine, and then the Comptroller at Carter Steel. Grandad ran a filling station, drove a Columbus city bus, managed the Holland Theatre in Bellefontaine, and then worked in management for Super Food Services (a grocery wholesaler).
My Grandma was only about 4’11” tall due to her spinal disintegration, but she had a lot of energy in her small frame! She was a big hugger, and loved all of her grandchildren dearly! We were all devastated when we got the news that Grandma had suffered a heart attack and died on February 15, 1979. My Grandad followed her a little over five years later, after succumbing to his second bout with cancer.
My Grandma wasn’t a traditional woman by any means, but she was a wonderful example to all of us!
Happy Birthday, Grandma!
Note: Much of the information for this post came from Grandma’s memoirs, which she wrote for her daughters a couple of years before she died.