“I want someone to hold my hand, and get the doors. Is that too much to ask? Something that doesn’t fall apart when things get hard, yeah.” – Love Like That by Tiffany Houghton (2014)
67 years ago today, May 21, 1950, my grandparents were married. Their 65th anniversary was the last one they got to celebrate together this side of heaven, and this is the first year when they are both gone. In honor of this special day in my family I am going to share their story as told by my grandfather, with my own comments in-between. It is going to be a long and bumpy post, but I wanted to share as much of Grandpa’s own words as possible, copied exactly as he wrote it.
This is the life stories of Dave & Marion Smith.
“I was born, Paul Dean Smith, in Warsaw, Indiana on January 17, 1928. My parents were Gladys Adel (Izor) and Paul Wiglund Smith. My mother thought that my middle name was changed to David shortly after I was born, but when I needed my birth certificate when I was eleven we found out that it was Dean on the birth certificate. It has never been legally changed which is why I usually sign my name Paul D Smith. At any rate my parents and the family always called me Bud although I have always used David in school.
I lived in Warsaw until I was four or five when we moved to Huntington, Indiana. I remember attending kindergarten there. Then I remember moving to Bedford, Indiana and attending first grade. My next recollection was of being taken to Warsaw, Indiana to live with my grandmother, Hulda Sophia Smith. My grandfather, Clarence, had left my grandmother while my father was still in high school. I attended first grade there with her for one semester. Those days are the start of my real recollections.”
My grandfather then wrote about some of what he did with my great-great grandmother; such as going to church meetings and visiting shut-ins to pray with them. My great-great grandmother, Hulda, had been a strong Christian woman, the daughter of a preacher, and influenced my grandpa in his faith during his time with her. After sharing these memories he moves on to talking about his return to Bedford, Indiana.
“The big surprise when I went back to Bedford was that my parents were divorced and mother and I were living in a small apartment. I do not remember too well, but I think I attended first grade some more before my mother was married to Russell Glen Hardman and we moved to Greencastle, Indiana where I finally finished the first grade for the second time. Russell had a son, James Russell, who is a year younger than I. He lived with his mother almost all of the time except for a few weeks during the summertime. We lived in an upstairs apartment for awhile and then moved into a small house which caused me to change to a different school for the second grade (where Marion and I met for the first time). We next moved to 407 Elm St. where my brother, Ronald Lee, was born. He is ten years younger than I.”
Grandpa then talks about his family move out to Iowa before coming back to Greencastle. In 1944 my great-grandparents (or who I know as my great-grandparents, Gladys and Russell Hardman) bought a small grocery store where my grandfather worked. He goes on to explain what was going on with his father this whole time, but since he was not a part of my grandpa’s life I am skipping over that and getting to the good part!
“Marion and I had our first date in October of 1942 when we were both freshman in Greencastle High School. Shortly before Marion graduated from DePauw University and I only had the summer months left to graduate from Rose Polytechnic Institute (now Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology), we were married.
In the fall of 1950 Marion obtained a teaching job at the grade school in St. Joseph, Illinois and I had an assistantship in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. St. Joe is ten minutes east of Urbana. We lived in a two room upstairs apartment in St. Joe.
In the summer I obtained a summer job at the Navel Research Laboratory in Washington, DC and Marion worked at the Navel Gun Factory.
In the fall of 1951 I returned to U of I to finish my master’s degree and Marion returned to her teaching job (minus teaching Art, English, and Reading; which she had the first year along with music and physical education). I had enough credits to graduate by the middle of the school year, but Marion had signed a contract for the school year so I took some extra courses which later were counted towards my Ph.D.
In summer of 1952 I obtained a job with Bell Telephone Laboratories (later known as Bell Labs) in Whippany, New Jersey where I worked on the Nike I Guided Missile. Marion worked in the typing pool and we could ride to work together until she quit in January of 1953. During the school year (for 2 years) I commuted to New York City three days a week to what Bell Labs called Kelly College which was required of all engineering employees without a Ph.D. During the second summer, I commuted to NYC five days a week on a rotating assignment. Larry was born in September of 1953.”
Pausing Grandpa’s story for a second to go through my family members real quick. My grandparents had five boys and Grandpa is writing to an audience who knows that so he does not explain, slipping in the boys births almost like after thoughts to each season of life. Larry is my dad’s older bother. Later you will see ‘Ron’ or ‘Ronnie’ which is my dad, followed by ‘the twins’ Tim and Tom, and last will be my Uncle Bill.
“In September of 1954, I returned to Rose Poly to teach. In the summer of 1955 I drew house plans for a local builder in Terre Haute, Indiana. Ronnie was born in January of 1956 and six weeks later I had a testicle removed which was diagnosed as cancerous. After a few weeks of x-radiation treatment life became better.
In summer of 1956, I worked for Farnsworth Electronics in Ft Wayne, Indiana. In the summer of 1957 I was hired for a summer job by Boing Airplane Company in Seattle, Washington. We lived in Tacoma, about 30 miles away, where we rented a furnished house about a block away from Marion’s college roommate. We went camping up on Mt. Rainier almost every weekend..
In the summer of 1958 I worked at the Navel Avionies Facility in Indianapolis and lived with Dot and Don Hubbard (Marion’s cousin) during the week. Tim and Tom were born in July.
In the summer of 1959, I worked at the Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas.
At the end of the school year I resigned from Rose Poly because we had already rented the Park Street house for the summer and Stanford would not except me as a Ph.D. student unless Rose would extend my leave of absence for two years. I already had a summer job with Texas Instruments again so we went there for the summer. A fellow from Denver Research Institute came to Dallas to visit his parents and interviewed people for work. I took the job without ever visiting Denver. At the end of the summer we packed the four boys, ourselves, and all that we had brought for the summer in our Volkswagen van and headed to Denver.
In Denver we found a motel where we could cook and started looking for a place to live. No one wanted to rent a furnished place to a family of four boys, but we finally saw a fellow from the electric company who had just read the meter where a family was moving out and we managed to rent the house unfurnished. We went to the Goodwill and Salvation Army and bought some things and then we looked in the paper for people with furniture to sell and that furnished the house. A new neighbors helped me move our refrigerator, which we brought up a basement stairway. Afterwards, I thought I had a heart attack and went to the emergency room (they did not think that I had a heart attack, but when I was 70 the doctor in Texas said that my heart did show a sign of a previous heart attack). I drove the microbus back to Terre Haute, Indiana and picked up the swing set and some other things and brought them to Denver.
We had our new house built in Littleton (now Centennial) and we moved in May of 1962.
By now friends who had been renting our house in Terre Haute managed to sell it for us so we were able to make the payment on the new house. Bill was born in July of 1962 shortly after we moved. I went to Hawaii to work for two weeks before Bill was born and about a month later I went to Fairbarks, Alaska to work for three days. I do not know how Marion made it with the dusty yard and 5 sons.
In 1965 I received a National Science Fellowship for a year’s study on my Ph.D. After that year the electrical engineering deportment made me a lecturer for one school year while I wrote my Ph.D. thesis. Sometime about then the dean came around my office and asked if I were teaching my advisor’s graduate courses while my advisor was away in Wisconsin obtaining his Ph.D. The dean did not think that I should be in the class with graduate students one period and then be their teacher the next. There was not much that he could do about it until my advisor returned however.
In 1967 I received my Ph.D. and Marion received her PhT (Putting Hubby Through). I worked for Denver Research Laboratory in the summer and then we received an offer to return to Rose Poly that we could not refuse.
Again we had a housing problem and the house we rented when we were in Terre Haute looking was sold while the movers were loading our furniture in Littleton. That is how we happened to move into the fraternity house in Deming Woods of Terre Haute for a few weeks and stayed a year and a half while our house on the Lake at Riley was built.
In 1971 I was in a National Science Foundation class for six weeks in Boulder, Colorado. We camped for the entire time.”
Pause! Grammy was the only woman in the family. It was her, Grandpa, and their five boys. If that was not enough she proceeded to live in a frat house with a fraternity for a year and a half. After that she lived in a tent with her husband and five boys for six weeks. Can you say patience of a saint?!
“In April of 1977 we bought a 21-ft Westerly Warwick sailboat which we named Marda (Mar from Marion and da from Dave). We sailed it on Lake Monroe, near Bloomington and later on Lake Erie near the islands. We also sailed it in northern Lake Michigan and finally in North Channel and Georgian Bay of Lake Huron.
After the boys were married or gone from living with us and our parents had died we took Marda to the Florida Keys from November 1990, to February 1991. Tim quit his job and went with us. Years later we gave Marda to the Boy Scouts in Canada.
I retired in June 1993, and Marion and I started traveling in our 19 ft travel trailer, just returning to our Riley house in the spring and the fall. In the winter of 1995-96 we stayed near San Benito, Texas at Pan American RV Park. The 19 foot trailer was too small so next year we had a 27 foot travel trailer. By then all the boys had moved west so we bought a house in San Benito and sold the Terre Haute house. We then spent the summers traveling to visit our sons and families.
I turned 70 in 1998 and fell apart. Prostate removed in January, quadruple heart bypass in May. Then after traveling the summer I had a cortisone shot in each of my shoulders and contracted a staff infection in my left should which put me in the nursing home for two week.
It is 2003 now and I still seem to be healthy although at age 75 we are slowing down.
Marion was born on May 16, 1928 to Lucy Blanche (Bryant) and Herrick Ernest Herbert Greenleaf in Greencastle, Indiana. She was the first born of twin girls, Mildred Couch is her twin. She has two older sisters, Elizabeth Adel and Edith Bryant.
Marion’s parents had moved from Walthom, Massachusetts in 1921 when Herrick started teaching at DePauw University. Marion lived on College Ave in Greencastle until she married me. She became interested in music at an early age and started private piano lessons when she was 8 years old. She gave her first recital when she was 10. She started organ lessons when she was a freshman in DePauw.
Marion continued her music by singing in the choir at the Methodist church in St Joe and occasionally played the organ. Ditto for Morristown, New Jersey. At Seelyville, Indiana she directed the choir for the Methodist church. When we lived on Park Street in Terre Haute, we attended the Seelyville church. In Littleton, Colorado she directed the choir at St Andrews Methodist Church and occasionally played the organ. While living in the fraternity house in Terre Haute she played the organ for Montrose Methodist Church. In Riley, Indiana she directed the choir and occasionally played the organ until she directed the choir at Memorial Methodist for a year until she contracted mono. She then gave piano lessons for several years. About 1984 she became the organist at Temple United Methodist Church, a position which she kept until I retired in 1993. In San Benito she sang in the Methodist Church choir and substituted for the organist a couple times a year.”
Grandpa and Grammy ended up selling the house in San Benito and moving to Denver, Colorado. They had always loved the mountains and decided that is where they would rather be. They stopped traveling in the summer to visit those of us who do not live there, and instead we started making trips to Denver. As they got older their health got worse. Grandpa ended up with dementia, and Grammy with cancer which took her life in August of 2015. Grandpa passed away almost exactly a year later in August of 2016. They left behind a loving family of their five boys, Larry, Ronnie, Tim, Tom, and Bill as well as three daughters-in-law Marty (Larry), Debbie (Ronnie), and Rebecca (Bill). And of course their twelve grandchildren, Becca, Nathan, Andrew, Tommi, David, me, Max, Jeremiah, Michaila, Michael, Jonathan, and Joshua. As well as their six great-grandchildren Connor, Sebastian, Jackson, Ariel, Ethan, and Isaac.
I remember my dad telling me once, “which ever one of my parents dies first the other will go soon after of a broken heart. They have been best friends since grade school and sweethearts since high school. They do not know how to live without each other”. This ended up being true, but was also a beautiful testament to their friendship and love.