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Joyce Family History - Detroit, Michigan

Autobiography of Bertha Joyce

Autobiography of Bertha Joyce
Stories of the Joyce Family
Obituary article








Bertha Joyce










Recorded on August 10, 1997


Compiled and Edited by David L. Smith


Copyright 2000

Editors Preface


          Bertha Joyce is my maternal Grandmother.  It has been my privilege to know her for many years to and to spend a good deal of time with her.  This autobiography is taken from a tape recording which was made in August of 1997.  The audio tapes are, unfortunately, of extremely low quality, to the point where they are difficult to understand at some points.  The reader should remember that the contents of this history are taken directly from the actual words spoken by Bertha Joyce on those audio tapes.  I have been informed that some of the information is not completely accurate, according to other family members recollections.  However, I have refrained from making any changes to this history, which as presented here, is exactly as it was spoken to me by my Grandmother.


It seems that very little is known about the ancestry of Bertha Joyce.  She says that her father (who disappeared when she was four years old) was a German named Hermen Gelbke and her mother’s name was Barbara Bertha Kurz.  Bertha Joyce’s given name was Fredrica Gelbke, but she grew up with the name Bertha Hermina Joyce. 


Apparently, Hermen Gelbke was a German immigrant to the United States.  Barbara Kurz, it seems, was the daughter of immigrants.  Her father was German, but her mother was French.


Bertha Duey married William George Joyce.  William George Joyce was born July 21st, 1917.  He was the son of William Joyce and Margaret Speaker.  His father was Irish and his mother was German.


William and Bertha Joyce had twelve children.  They are as follows:


Patricia Ann Joyce was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 26th, 1945.  She presently resides at 22770 Clarkshire Drive in South Lyon, Michigan.  She is a Pediatrician in Bingham Farms, Michigan.  She married Craig Smith on July 27th, 1974.  They have three children: David L. Smith (b. 1976), Matthew W. Smith (b. 1979), and Kevin C. Smith (b. 1984).


Barbara Jean Joyce was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 7th, 1947.  She presently resides at 1235 Bedford, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan.  She works at Wilde Elementary School in Warren, Michigan.  She married Louis J. Howson in August 17th,  1973.  They have four kids, Christine P. Howson (b. 1976), Steve L. Howson (b. 1980), Beth Ann Howson (b. 1982), Mark William Howson (b. 1985)


Margaret Mary Joyce was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 17th, 1948.  She currently resides at 513 Skyline Drive in Great Falls, Montana.  She works as a judge in Great Falls.  She married Steve M. Johnson.  They have two children, twins, Kirk S. Johnson (b. 1982) and Erika M. Johnson (b. 1982).


William Patrick Joyce was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 29th, 1949.  He currently resides at 12572 Swan Farm Lane, Brighton, Michigan.  He works for TNT Logistics as Vice President of Logistics.  He married Debbie Ouellette on August 4th, 1971.  They had three children: William “Billy” Patrick Joyce II (b. 1974), Jaclyn M. Joyce (b. 1978), and Krysten Joyce (b. 1983)


Michael Robert Joyce was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 29th, 1949.  He currently resides at 101 Jeter Mtn Ter in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  He works for Southern Bell Telephone Company.  He married April D.       on August 3rd, 1974.  They had two children, Meghan M. Joyce (b. 1975), and Michael R. Joyce (b. 1978).  Meghan M. Joyce married Judd Pierson in April 19, 1996.  They currently reside at 59 Silverleaf in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  They have six children.


Kathleen Marie Joyce was born on March 19th, 1951.  She presently resides in Huntington Woods, Michigan.  She is a doctor specializing in Anesthesiology.  She married Yeong Kim on August 10th, 1978.  Yeong had two children from a previous marriage, Ron Kim (b. 1968) and Ann Kim (b. 1963).  Kathy and Yeong had one child, Melissa M. Kim (b. 1987).


Daniel Joseph Joyce was born on June 25th, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan.  He presently resides at 508 Woodland in Buchanan Michigan. He is a doctor with specialties in Sports Medicine and Family Practice.  He presently works in a hospital emergency room.  He married Kathy Ann Schindler  on June 28th, 1975.  They have three children: Jeffrey D. Joyce (b. 1984),  Scott W. Joyce (b. 1987),  Tara A. Joyce (b. 1992).


Sally Elizabeth Joyce was born on November 19th, 1953 in Detroit, Michigan.  She presently resides near Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She is a lawyer.  She married Abe Galanter on August 15th, 1980.  They have two children, Adam Chaim Galanter (b. 1983) and Amy E. Galanter (b. 1988).  Abe has two children from a previous marriage, Helen G. Galanter (b. 1957; d. 1985), and Judy Ann Galanter Vispon (b. 1959).  Judy has a daughter named Alexandra Biston (b. 1993).


Janice Marie Joyce was born on March 8th, 1955 at Detroit, Michigan.  She presently resides in Salem Township, Michigan.  She is an assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County.  She married Stephen L. Bartee on March 27, 1982.  They have three children, Erin M. Bartee (b. 1983), Ashley P. Bartee (b. 1986), and Alex S. Bartee (b. 1988).


Carol Ann Joyce was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 20th, 1959.  She currently resides near Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She is a veterinarian.  She married Richard D. Lloyd on August 12, 1982.  They have five children Tristan J. Lloyd (b. 1988), Robert A. Lloyd (b. 1989), Daniel L. Lloyd (b. 1992), Keara Lloyd (b. 1995), and Christopher Lloyd (b. 1997).


 James George Joyce was born in Detroit on September 26th, 1957.  He presently resides in Angola, Indiana.  He married Amy B. Sharrow on December 29th, 1989.  Amy has three children by a previous marriage, Amanda K. Joyce (b. 1980), Alicia D. Joyce (b. 1983), Austin D. Joyce (b. 1985).


Robert Thomas Joyce was born on December 21st, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan.  He presently resides near Mount Clemens, Michigan.  He works for Ameritech where he is an accountant.  He married Tammy   on June 1st, 1984.  They have four children, Jonathan W. Joyce (b. 1987), James R. Joyce (b. 1990) and twins Jenna Lynn Joyce (b. 1993) and Jillian T. Joyce (b.1993).


Bertha Joyce presently resides at 8421 East Ten Mile Road in Centerline, Michigan.  She has lived there since 1969.


David Smith

August 2000


Bertha Joyce died on May 14, 2003.  She was buried in St. Clement’s Cemetary, next to the church of the same name, in Centerline, Michigan.

David Smith

July 2005




Family History


My name is Bertha Joyce.  My maiden name was Duey.  I was born September 20th, 1917 in Chicago.  My mother told me that when I was about three months old we moved to this area.  We moved to Flint, I think, and after a while we moved to Detroit.  In 1932 my family moved to Belleville.  When we first moved to Detroit I lived at 5044 Proctor.  Then we moved to Tarnow Street  and then we moved to Florida Street--three different houses on Florida.  We moved several times.  When my dad lived with us we were living on Proctor, Tarnow, and the first house on Florida.  Mother told us he died, that he went over across to Germany to visit his parents and died on the way over.  I was probably about four years old.  I went to public school in Detroit at  Prest elementary school.  I went to Longer Intermediate school in Detroit, and to Chadsey High School.  Chadsey High School was a brand new school when I entered it.  It was not completed, and it didn’t have a gymnasium or a swimming pool at the time.    Chadsey is in Detroit on McGraw.  My mom was never remarried.  Our family was supported by her half brothers Jack, Henry, and Bill (we had the same mother but different fathers.)  They were older than me.  My mother had been married before, but her first husband had died of pneumonia.  My mother had five children from her first marriage.  The oldest child died; he was hit by a streetcar when he was about eight years old.  And the baby girl died, I don’t know what from.  I had a natural sister, Anne who was older than me.  I had a sister, Dorothy, and a brother, Arthur, both natural.  Dorothy and Arthur were younger than me.  My brother, his name was John Duey.  For some reason, unknown at the time, my name as I knew it was Bertha Duey--Bertha Hermina Duey—I found out later that I was supposed to be named after my mother.  My mothers maiden name was Kurz (German).  Her mother, she told me, was French; my dad was German.  Her name was Barbara Bertha Kurz.  I really didn’t know my father’s name until I was 21 and I sent for my birth certificate.  When I sent for my birth certificate, they couldn’t find a Bertha Duey that was born on September 18th, 1917.  But they found a Fredericka Gelbke that was born September 20th, 1917, with the mother Bertha Kurz.  My dads name (I guess) was Herman Gelbke.  I have a feeling (I’ve been meaning to check) that my mother divorced him and took back her maiden name.  I have a feeling that that’s what happened, because why would she change her name back?  I decided all my school records and everything would be under the name Bertha Duey.  I had my name legally changed to Bertha Duey.  I went to court and had it changed to Bertha Duey.   My parents were Lutheran.  They went to a Lutheran Church.  I think my mother and father made a pledge for building on the church.  After my father died, they still expected my mother to make payments, but she couldn’t afford it because she had seven children.  At this time my brother Henry (whose nickname was “Tex” got a job at a meat packing company.  He said he was 18, although he was only 14.  He helped support the family.  My brother Bill was to young (to work), he was still in school (he was only 10 at the time).  My brother Jack was 19.  He worked, but he got married.  At 19, he moved away.

Tex supported the family.  He was a very, very nice brother.  Very kind.  He decided to stay with my mother until the rest of us were grown up.  He didn’t get married until he was about 29 or 30.  He didn’t even date earlier because he didn’t want to get serious.

When I was younger, I really liked school a lot.  (She went to public schools)  Sometimes my mother would say I had to stay home and clean the house and miss school.  I would stay up the night before, clean the house, get up earlier, straighten up anything that wasn’t straightened up, do the dishes and stuff.  Then I’d ask her if I could go to school, and she’d say yes, because I had cleaned the house already.  I hated missing school.  When I was in high school, she told me I had to be home at a certain time, like twelve o’clock.  Normally they have classes and they have study hours.  So I went to my counselor lady and asked her if I could have all my classes in a row so I could be home by 12:00.  So she arranged all my classes and I got home by 12.  I had to run home to get there by 12.  I had to get home by 12, because my mom needed help, and she said If I couldn’t get home by 12, I’d have to quit school.  My sister Anne got a job taking care of a child and she quit school.  She was (2 years older than me) 15.  I babysat for people for a nickel an hour.  The neighborhoods she grew up in were mixed neighborhoods.  We had German people, Polish people and Italian people.    I think the majority were Polish.  It was strange because there was a German lady that lived about two houses from us, and my mother sent me there to get her grocery list and go to the store for her.  But I couldn’t understand her German.  I knew some German, because I finally got my mother, who was speaking always German in our house, and they were having night school at the elementary school for foreigners who didn’t speak English to come and learn English.  I talked my mom into going there and I told her if she didn’t understand something id help her.  “After all mom, you’re in America now, you should learn how to speak English.”  She didn’t speak English at first, just German and polish also.  So she went to night school and learned how to speak English and write English and she did very well.  I was very proud of her.  So I had her go to the neighbors house and get the grocery list, and then she’d tell me what to get.  I spoke German also, but not Polish.  She could converse with the polish people also.  She told me my dad understood nine languages, which is really to me an accomplishment.  (My parents) met in America.  (But they were born in the Old World)  My dad came from Austria and my mom came from Germany.  The one thing I’m sorry about is that we didn’t continue to speak German because we probably would have known it real well. 


The Farm

When I was 15 we moved.  My brother Henry always wanted a farm, and he asked my mother if she could try to save some money to buy a farm because he gave her his whole paycheck.  And my brother Bill was in poor trade school and graduated from there.  I was 15 when they bought the farm in Belleville (Tex bought it)  It was on Martinsville Road.  What we did first was to try to get the house in good shape before winter came, because we got out there right after school was out.  And I remember going there at night—we drove out there at night—and it was dark and we had kerosene lamps, an outside toilet, which is completely different from what we had in the city.  I remember getting up in the morning with the roosters crowing at about 4 o’clock in the morning and going outside and looking around and thinking “wow, how beautiful everything looked.  The trees were green, there was a whole line of lilacs along the side of the house- they were all in bloom, the sun was just coming up (a little pink thing in the sky),  And I thought, heaven must look like this.  It was absolutely gorgeous. 

First thing, I learned how to hammer.  I helped my brother Bill put brick siding on the house.  Then my brother decided we should do some painting.  The first thing he had us paint was the storm windows and the screens.  I did such a good job of painting them and getting no paint on anything.  (I got a piece of cardboard off a cereal box and held it against the window and screen and just kept painting along and wiping up the drips.  I didn’t make a mess.  And my brother decided that I could paint the whole inside of the house, and I did.  I painted the whole outside too.   My brother decided he needed a new roof.  So he asked me to help him and I did.  I think I’m pretty much of a perfectionist sometimes.  As I was hammering a nail through the roofing material, it kept popping up.  I remember saying to my brother, “This nail won’t stay down Tex.  I keep trying, but it won’t stay down.”  He said, “Don’t waste your time because that board is starting to rot.”  And so we replaced the board, and we finished the roof.  But I learned from that experience.  I’d always thought…my philosophy was, if you get a chance to learn something, learn it, because you never know when you’re going to need it.  In this instance it was 40 years later that I used that knowledge.  We were having a roof put on our house and nine months later it leaked.  I called Sears and Sears told me I’d have to pay $187 to repair that.  And I said, “I don’t think we should have to pay anything, because we didn’t have real roofers roof the house.  A real roofer would have known that when the nail popped up a little bit that the board was starting to rot.  It should have been replaced then.  There was a silence and then the man said, “You are absolutely right.”  And they replaced it, no cost to me.

Then we plowed.  I also helped my brother add another kitchen and we put a bathroom in.  We put in a septic and then we had a regular toilet at that house.  We planted corn for the stock.  We had two horses at the time.  The plow that we used had to be horse-driven.  We planted stuff for the horses and cows to eat.  We moved there in 1932.  Things weren’t bad in spite of the Great Depression, because my brothers were working.  Actually I had two brothers working because Bill graduated from Henry Ford Trade School and he got a job.  Henry had the afternoon shift.  He’d get up early and work on the farm.  At twelve o’clock, he’d quit and wash up and get ready to go to work at Ford.  I think he had to be at work at two or three.  Bill also worked at Ford Motor Co.  He went to work earlier.  He worked the day shift.  We also had a garden and we would plant potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and different things.  I remember having a pale for the well and putting tomato bugs into the pale.  The farm had forty acres.  We didn’t farm all of it because there was a woods way in the back.  We farmed about twenty acres,  and there was a nice big part that was a pasture for the cows and horses.  Twenty acres was enough work, because I thought my brother Tex worked to hard.  The hay, you have to dry it and stack it and dry it some more before you put it in the barn.  The corn you have to do what they call chucking, where you take the corn off the cob.  After moving to Belleville, I didn’t go to school for a while until I lost my sight in October of 1933.  I wanted to go back (to school) but my mother didn’t want to make the arrangements for me to go back.  The school that was up the street was only up to the eighth grade so you had to get some transportation to the high school that was in town, that was the problem.  I don’t think they had busses.  I lost my sight in October, and I had only finished the tenth grade. 


The Accident

This was how I went blind.  I was white washing a chicken coup with a spray pump and the spray pump blew up and hit me in the face.  White wash is made with lime. It’s like what Tom sawyer used on fences to keep the bugs down.  The use it in basements etc.   You spray the walls of the chicken coup to keep the lice population down.  I remember being led into the kitchen and pumping water to wash my own eyes out.  But I guess I didn’t do a good enough job.  The lime ate into my eye and also the skin on my face was (burned).  I think it was about a week later that my brother decided to take me to Henry ford hospital.  And they kept me there.  I also remember that the young doctor who examined me, he wasn’t the head of the eye department, he was just a young doctor, said to my mother, “You know Mrs. Duey, if you would have brought your daughter in earlier we would have washed her eyes out.  Her eyes would have been red for a while but she would have had her sight.  If she doesn’t see, you can’t blame anybody but yourself.”  I felt badly about that because it gave my mother a guilt complex, and I would never have done that to her.    The head doctor heard about me, and he immediately took charge of me.  He was absolutely wonderful.  His name was Dr. Albert Whitney.  He’s the only one I remember in that department.  I remember them having to tear down adhesions day and night.  I was so tired of them working on my eyes.  I said. “Please, can’t you just let me sleep for a little while?”  And they said, “No, not yet.”  (An adhesion is a piece of skin which grows in the eye and attaches to the lid.)  I didn’t see at all during that time, I don’t even remember whether I saw light or not.  One day I went to (the doctor) and he said, “How would you like to finish high school.”  I said, “I’d love to.”  He told me about a school for the blind in Lansing.  And he said he’d send for an application and fill it out for me so I could go there.  In Detroit, they had special schools for the blind, but people who lived out in the country, like me, went to Michigan School for the Blind in Lansing.  So I went there in January of 1935.  In the time between going blind and going to school, I helped around the house.  My mom used to say, “Sit still, you might hurt yourself.”  And I said, “Mom, I’ve never sat still.”  I wanted to show her that even though I could see, I could still iron, I could still bake, and I could still do a lot of stuff.

When I first lost my sight, I remember I used to think, “I’ll wake up tomorrow morning, and I’ll be able to see.”  Guess what, tomorrow morning, I woke up and I wasn’t able to see.  I was 16 in September, I lost my sight in October, and I think it was the first part of the next year when I finally said, “Guess what Bert, tomorrow you’re not going to be able to see, just like today.”   So I remember, I used to pray a lot.  So I prayed to the Lord and said, “I don’t know why this happened to me, but I know there’s some work You want me to do and I’m ready to do it.  But please let me have a little fun while I’m doing it.”  And it seemed like I started enjoying life a little bit more.

There was an old barn where they held dances every week.  It wasn’t just young people that went to the dance.  Families would go there.  My brothers and sisters were going there and they asked me if I wanted to come.  I loved to dance, but I said no.  I was thinking that everyone would feel sorry for me, and I didn’t want that.  Then all of a sudden, after I said that prayer, I decided I’d go.  That Saturday night they said, “Bert, are you going to go to the dance?”  And I said yes.  And I went, and I had fun.  Everybody (in town) knew I had had the accident.  Everybody knew I couldn’t see.  There was one man of one family who decided that I could square dance.  He took me in the square and asked me to be his partner, and I was (I said yes).  Tex was going out with his daughter at the time.  He got in the square and he said, “Now you all know that Bert cant see, so when she puts out her hand, grab it an we’ll keep her in the circle here.”  So I danced that night and I had lots of fun.  What they had, was a set of three square dances, and they had fox trot, fast foxtrot, and the waltz.  Then they had intermission, and then the polka, and shodish.  I had a ball that night.  It was great.  I really had fun.  So after that I went every Saturday night with my brothers and sisters. 

Our Family

One sister (Dorothy) ran away and got married.  She was only 16.  (I knew the boy.  I didn’t care for him to much.  When I saw her again, I said, “Why did you marry him?”  She said, “Well, he said if I didn’t marry him, he’d ask you to marry him.”  I said “Well I wouldn’t have married him.”  Then my other sister got married  (she was 19).  That left only two brothers at home with me—Tex and Art.

We didn’t go to church very much when I was young.  My mother dropped away from the church.  But she prayed with us every night.  I remember when I was a little girl about eight years old, we had a calendar which had Jesus on it.  I remember thinking that no matter where I stood in the room, he was looking at me.  At the end of the year when my mother was going to throw the calendar out, I asked her if I could have the picture and she gave it to me.  I treasured that picture for years and years and years.  I think I lost it after I lost my sight.  I remember folding it up and carrying it with me all the time.  (because it was a big picture, and I folded it up and carried it in my pocket.)  When I went to the school for the blind, every Sunday they would have a religious service.  And it would be different churches, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic.  Each week they had a different one.  And then the high school boys and girls could go to their own church after that.  Since I really didn’t belong to a church, I had a Baptist girlfriend, and she’d say, “Bert, why don’t you come to church with me?”  And I did.  And then I went to a young peoples group Sunday night with her.  And then I went to the Catholic church with some friends on another day.  And I went to Baptist, and Presbyterian, and Lutheran.  I went to the young peoples group.  (These were all outside the school.) 


School for the Blind

I went to the school for the blind from 1935 until I graduated in 1937.  I remember it took me over a month to learn how to read Braille.  Learning the symbols wasn’t difficult, but learning how to feel them, to differentiate between the letters was difficult.  And I thought I was extremely slow.  But they told me I wasn’t that slow, I was really pretty fast at learning Braille.  (You know it took the time to read the A the B the C and to read…)  I had a couple of people who were real good friends of mine in my class.  And so, if my friends were in the  same class, I’d ask them if they’d read my lessons to me, and they did—which was better for me because when I started feeling the letters it would make me sleepy.  They could read beautifully, like a sighted person reading out of a book, they read that well.  They read pretty fast, but they had been at the school for the blind all their lives, so they were really good readers.  (As far as reading speed, I think I’m up to the third grade, which is not that great, but I can read Braille.  There is no time limit that binds me so I can just read at my speed.  For me its wonderful that I can still read it.)  And it was interesting at the school.  Its like at every college if your in the dorm, there are people there that want to party all the time.  It was, “Hey Bert, how about coming to our room, we’re going to have a party.”  “I have to study.”  “Oh Bert, you don’t have to study.”  It’s like they thought I was going to get it by osmosis.  And I said, “Yes, I do have to study.  Sorry about that.”  So I didn’t join them.  Well after a while, I didn’t get invited anymore.  One day I had all my studying done and I went to the room and I said, “Can I come in?  I’m not studying today.”  “What?  Not studying today?”  I said, “That’s right, I’m all through studying.  I’m ready to join the fun.”  So I stayed with them.  (It wasn’t any drinking party.  They sang, and played games—it was fun.)  But it was just different.  I had to go to them to tell them I was ready to party, instead of them asking me to party.  They just didn’t bother—“No sense in asking you anymore Bert.”  That was probably true because I wanted to study.  (From) studying, I got all A’s and B’s.  At graduation time, I had the same marks as the leading boy (exactly the same marks as he did).  So he became valedictorian and I became salutatorian. 

They had a spelling contest at the school and I won that.  They had essay contests, and I think I won one.  I became editor of the school paper.  I had never done any tricks on the parallel bar, but it was amazing what I could do.  Actually, I became very good at it, so that when they put on an exhibition for the sighted public to come in and see what the blind kids could do, I did stunts on the parallel bar.  I would stand up and do a head stand, spin around…a lot of stuff like that.  (I learned that in the gym class at the School for the Blind.) 

I had an excellent geography teacher in elementary school (Sixth grade at Prest school—Prest School was on Casper Street.).  I can still remember the states around VermontRhode Island, Massachusetts—she made us memorize those.  I thought she was a good teacher because she taught, and she didn’t fool around.  She was a tough teacher.  I thought she was very very good.  She was very interesting.  And she was an older teacher.  Her name was Miss Leroy (She never got married).  Its amazing how some of these teachers are really tough and good.  I mean, I had an English teacher at the School for the Blind where the kids could get off the subject, and he’d wander off, and then we wouldn’t learn the lesson.  The kids would say, “We can get him off the subject and get him talking about things that he likes to talk about.”  I was in sixth grade when I had Miss Leroy at Prest School.  Prest school was on Casper Street.

I had a Latin teacher who was very good.  I took two years of Latin.

I pretty much had forgotten my German by the time I was in high school.  I know some words.  When I was a little kid, German was the language in the house.  I learned English in school. 

I remember I had fun in school.  We had dances practically every week.  Each high School class took turns making decorations.  I don’t know why we decorated the hall but we did.  We would take turns.  First the girl reserves had a dance and the boy reserves had a dance.  The “Reserves” was a club like boy scouts.  I belonged to the girl reserves.  I was president of the class one year.

They used to call the class paper the Beacon.  I might have some books of that.  They did it in Braille.  I don’t know if they did it in print or not.  That way all the kids could read it.  It was like all school papers.  It had a gossip column and it told you what was going on.  I was the editor one year.  I would go through the stories and check them and then put the paper together.  Each class had somebody that would write for their class. 

There were 27 in my graduating class.  Our class was one of the biggest classes they had had at the school.  Most of the classes were smaller, maybe 10, 12, or 18. 

At the school we had breakfast, lunch and dinner together.  I was asked if I would be a hostess at a table.  This is something that I have always thought: that blind people should be corrected if they do something wrong.   They should be told its not appropriate.  I was a hostess and I couldn’t see what the people were doing.  But they had to say please when they wanted something.  They had to be courteous and excuse themselves. And stuff like that.  We had some partially sighted people and usually they were the hostesses.  Apparently we didn’t have enough so they asked me to be the hostess.

When I first went to that school on the first day, one of the girls came up to me and asked me, “Do you dance?”  I said, “I love to dance.”  She took me down to the rec room and asked a blind girl to play some music.  She led me into a dance.  Then she turned to me  and said, “I hate you!”  I said, “Why?”  She said, “Because all the boys will want to dance with you and they won’t want to dance with the rest of us.”  She said, “There is a guy that said your his girl.”  I asked, “What guy?”  She told me his name.  I said, “Don’t know him, haven’t met him.  How can I be his girl when I haven’t said, ‘Yes, I’ll be your girl.’” 

We did have a dance.  Lots of the boys asked me to dance with them  I don’t think they ignored the other girls.  They had a dance every week and a party week.

I remember one time this Lester Krieg came up and asked me to dance.  I danced with him and I had the audacity to say to him.  Les, don’t go asking other girls to dance until you do something about your bad breath.  I’m not going to tell anyone else about it, but I want to tell you about it.”  He said, “Thanks Bert.”  So he left and went back to the boys dorm.  When he came back he said, “How am I now?”  I said, “You’re fine.”  Later, he asked me if I’d be his girl and I said, “Don’t waste your time on me.  Nothing will ever come of it.”  I told him that because I didn’t have any feeling for him anyway.


I had seen my brother Tex.  He had met a girl and proposed to her and they were supposed to get married the following week.  She had broken up with an old boyfriend maybe six month before that.  A couple days before the wedding she contacted my brother and told him that she was not going to marry him.  She had gotten together with her old boyfriend.  Uncle Tex was broken up about it.  I was very close to him.  I was very close to him.  I was somebody he could always talk to.  So he came up to Clancy to the School for the Blind to see me.  It was on a Sunday.  I was surprised to see him on a Sunday because usually he came on a Friday night to pick me up and take me home.  I could tell he was feeling bad and I knew something was wrong.  He asked for permission to take me out of school.  We drove around for a while and he told me that she had called him and told him that the wedding was off.  I thought, “Thank god its before the wedding and not after the wedding.  It would be worse to get married and then have to get divorced.”  I said, “She’s not the right girl for you Tex.  There is somebody out there who is really for you.  You’re going to meet her.  And you are going to know when you meet her that that’s the girl for you.”  Two months later he came back to me and he said, “Guess what Bert!”  I said, “You met the girl, right?”  I knew because he was so happy that time.  He met Aunt Margaret.  She was the lady he married.  She was a widower with two children.  It was interesting because at Easter he picked me up to bring me home.  On Saturday morning he left early to go to the library because I had some stuff I wanted him to look up for me because I had a paper to write.  He said ill be back to do it for you.  He left in the morning and didn’t come back for a long time.  My mother said, “I wonder where he is?”  And I, without thinking said, “I guess he got married.”   And he came in about one o’clock and said, “Mom, I want you to meet my wife!” And I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.  My sister in law will never forget how hard I laughed.  Because I had just said it without thinking.  So he got married and he went to the hall to dance that night and celebrate.  They just went  and got married.  Her sister and her sisters husband stood up for them at the wedding.  They went out to breakfast with her sister afterwards, and then came home.  They didn’t go on a honeymoon.  It was interesting.

It was because my brother was hurt by that girl that I decided that I would never lead anybody on unless I was serious.  I haven’t done it. 

Bill Joyce

Because I was salutatorian, I was supposed to be able to go to Michigan State for college.  But because the superintendent had heard me say at one point that I’d like to be a mother with six kids, he thought I would just run off and marry anybody to be a mother with six kids.  The superintendent had overheard me talking to someone else about it while he was walking by.  I didn’t get a chance to go to college.  But I think God knew what he was doing because I met Bill Joyce at a dramatic club in Detroit after I graduated from school.  (I had been living at the farm for a while, when I decided I wanted to move to the city.  The doctor helped me get an arrangement in Detroit where I took care of a ladies children for room and board.  I also went to Dictaphone school.  A Dictaphone is a recorder that speaks and then you type what it says.)  This dramatic club was for the blind.  I always enjoyed it.  I met Bill there.  He liked me and I liked him very much.  So we started dating.  Wesley Freid asked after I graduated, “Do you mind if I hang around in case you change your mind about me?”  I told him, “I wouldn’t waste your time on me if I were you.”  He said, “Well let me know if you find someone you really care about.”  Not long after I met Bill, I decided I really did care about him.  So I wrote Wesley a letter to tell him I did find someone that I really cared about.  I said that I loved him and that his name was Bill Joyce.  I had forgotten that both Wesley and Bill were mutual friends through Clayton Walker.  Clayton used too go to a camp with Bill in the summertime.  He met Bill and he liked him.  They played Chess together.  Clayton was also one of Wes’s best friends.  So of course when Wes got my letter, he showed it to Clayton.  And Clayton said, “I’ll have to congratulate Bill.”  So he called Bill up and congratulated him.  When Bill next came to see me, he said, “I hear you love me!”  I said, “Yes, I do!”  He said, “I love you to.”  I was surprised but I realized that I should have thought of that.  I didn’t think of that.  I knew they were friends but I didn’t think of it. 

A Job

I had a Dictaphone job for a while, but the place I was working for went out of business.  Then I got a job working for Briggs manufacturing.  There, I worked  in the print shop running a printing press.  I couldn’t read the stuff I was printing, but I could operate the press.  I got the job at Briggs in 1939.  I didn’t keep the job at Briggs because Dr. Whitney called me and told me that he wanted me to go to Baltimore to get some treatment.  I didn’t have partial site at the time.  I went to Baltimore to get partial sight back.  I only had light and slight shadow perception at the time.  The doctor told me to quit my job and go to Baltimore.  He thought I’d be there for about a year to take these treatments so I could get partial sight back.  At that point, I was through with my Dictaphone job and I had gotten a job proofreading Braille.  I was for people who were writing books in Braille.  I became assistant supervisor at that.  Then I quit that job to go to Baltimore for a year. 

Bill’s Schooling

Bill finished his High School at Northern High School in Detroit.  That was where they had facilities for the blind in Detroit.  He became blind when he was about fourteen.  He had Scarlet Fever and Measles.  He went blind from that.  After that he went to the school for the blind.  Because he was blind he was out of school for a while.  His sister who was next to him was a couple grades ahead of him.  She went to Northern also so that she could take Bill to school.  Bill asked if he could take some classes to catch up with his sister.  Instead of graduating in four years, he graduated in three with his sister.  He didn’t go to summer school, just during the year, and his mother read to him.  He graduated Cum Laude.  He went to college at Wayne state university in Detroit, starting in 1935.  While he was there, he got one of the first leader dogs in the area at that time.  It was about 1939 when he started going to law school.  It was right around then that I met him.  He graduated from law school in 1942.  He graduated from law school with the highest marks anybody had had in ten years or so.  His mother read to him the whole time he was in Law School.  He wanted to get married while he was still in Law school.  I was working at Briggs Manufacturing.  He wanted to get married, but his father said, “If you get married, your mother will no longer read to you.”  I had partial site at the time, but I couldn’t see well enough to read constantly like she did.  So I said, “We’ll wait a while until you finish Law School.  Maybe you’ll change your mind about me and want somebody else.  There are girls in law School too.” 

Baltimore, 1940

While I was in Baltimore, me and Bill exchanged letters.  There was a Lyons Club in Baltimore that took charge of me.  The Lyons club in Detroit was paying my room and board while I took treatments.  They turned me over to the Lyons club in Baltimore.  I stayed in Baltimore at a home for business girls.  I went to Baltimore by train, and I thought only one man met me at the train depot.  He took me to the place where they had gotten me a room.  In Baltimore they had a rule that no blind person could walk the streets alone.  The Lyons club arranged for a lady to take me to the hospital or wherever I had to go.  Some of the girls would ask me to go with them for a walk or to a show or whatever.  I had a roommate with whom I became very good friends.  I’m still in touch with her today.  Her name was Virginia Rockwell.  I remember that I took the treatments every week  the treatments made my eyes feel like they were burning out of my head.  One week I was coming home and my eyes were burning.  I put ice on it and I went totally blind.  This was supposed to help me get partial sight.  Now I was totally blind.  I remained that way for a month.  I remember waking up one morning and opening my eyes and I could see.  I was leaning my face on my hand and elbow.  I looked across the room to see my roommate.  She was standing in front of the mirror putting on makeup in her bra and underpants.  She looked in the mirror and saw me looking at her.  She said, “Bert, can you see me?”  I said, “I think so.”  She said, “What am I doing?”  I said, “You’re putting on make up and you’re in your bra and underpants.”  She said, “Oh my God, Bert, you can see!”  So she went all over the house and said, “Bert can see! Bert can see! Bert can see!”  She screamed, screamed, screamed.  That morning I called the doctor and asked him if he wanted to see me, because I could see.  He said, “Yes.”  So I called the lady to take me to the hospital.  The doctor was delighted that I could see.  It was partial sight.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to keep me out of trouble.  It would keep me from falling over things.  I hadn’t seen this much in years.  The lady said to me, “What are you going to do for the rest of the day?”  I said, “I’m going to look for work.”  She said, “Where are you going to look for work?”  I said, “Where I live, there is an employment office just around the corner. I think I’ll go there.”  So I went there.  At the employment office, I found that I didn’t have enough sight to fill out the application.  I told the man, “I have some sight, but not enough to fill this out.  Would you help me?”  He said yes.  He helped me fill it out.  I told him I had been a switchboard operator and a Dictaphone operator, and a typist.  So here I am in the employment office and the phone rings.  He came back and said, “What do you know Miss Duey!  I just got an offer of a switchboard operator and a receptionist.  Do you want to try for it?”  I said, “Yes.  Where is it?”  He said, “It’s just down the street.  You can walk there or take a bus.”  He told me where it was and I walked there.  The employment manager met me and took me to the switchboard.  This switchboard was much bigger than the one I had operated before.  It was one where you plug the plugs into the holes.  I looked at the switchboard and I couldn’t read the names beneath the holes.  So I said to the employment manager, “Do you mind if I copy down all the names that are on this board and memorize it and come back tomorrow and try again.”  He said, No, that will be just fine.”    So I wrote down all the names and memorized them.  I came back the next morning and worked the switchboard.  He said, “Is there anything I can get for you to make it easier for you to see?”  I said, “Can I get a goose neck lamp so I can see the holes a little better.  He said sure.  He called the electrician and said, “Give her anything she wants.”  The electrician got me the lamp.  If I turned it a certain way, I could see all the holes a little bit.  I worked for about an hour.  The manager came back and said, “You’re hired.  Everybody likes the way you do things and your voice sounds good.”  (I was staying in Baltimore still because I was still getting some treatment.  I was all through with the initial treatment, but they were working on the other eye, trying to get it to see.)  A week later he gave me my paycheck, and he said that Mr. K would like to see me.  Now Mr. K was the vice president of the company.  His real name was Aaron Klautzman, but everybody called him Mr. K.  He was a very nice person.  I was wondering, “Why does Mr. K want to see me?  Did I louse up something?”  So I walked to the vice presidents office and I knocked on the door.  He said, “Come in.”  He told me to sit down and he said, “Miss Duey, you owe me $1800.”  I said, “I do?”  He said, “Yes, the Lion’s Club in Detroit has not been sending any money and I’ve been paying for your room and board personally.  I paid for your operation also.”  I said, “Mr. K, you don’t even know me.  Why did you do it?”  He said, “Do you remember the first day you came to Baltimore?”  I said yes.  He said, “I was there with Mr. Alder and I took one look at you and I thought, ‘She’s a good risk.’”  Now I’ll tell you what I think happened:  The lady who took me to the hospital was a good friend of Mr. K’s.  She was always reporting to him what I did and where I was going.  I got invitations from the lions club members that I couldn’t believe.  And what it was was that Mr. K was the President of the Lion’s Club and he had talked people into inviting me over for Thanksgiving, taking me to a play or a concert and stuff.  He knew about everything I was doing.  When she told him I was looking for work, he decided he would give me this job because I had been a switchboard operator.  That was open, so he gave me the job.  I thin it was he that was responsible for me getting a job.  (When I went back to Michigan, I couldn’t get a good job. I was working in a restaurant as a short order cook and waitress and I was taking care of a kid.  Mr. K said, “You’ve got all those Lion’s Club members in Detroit and you can’t get a job?”)  What I wanted to do was to stay long enough in Baltimore to pay Mr. K off.  When he said to me that I owed him some money, I asked him for a pen and I signed the back of my paycheck. I gave him my paycheck as a payment. He said, “You mean you are going to pay me the whole thing?”  I said, “All except two dollars.  Please give me two dollars for spending money.”  He said, “That’s all?” He said, “What if you need more?”  I said, “I’ve got a mouth and I can ask you for it.”  So every week when I got my check, I ‘d take it to him and he’d give me two dollars for spending money.  Then I said to him, “Why don’t I pay for my room and board.”  He said OK.  He had been paying for that up till then.  I stayed in Baltimore until I had paid Mr. K off.  They wanted me to stay.  They said, “Why don’t you talk your boyfriend into moving out here?”  I had a job and they were going to keep me permanently.  Bill didn’t want to come because he was in Law School.  I moved to Baltimore in 1940 and I came back in 1941.

Other memories

While I was at the school for the blind, because my brother was still paying for my hospital bill, I decided that I would try to support myself.  So I offered to work doing anything.  They asked me if I’d like to work the switchboard.  I said yes.  They had maybe ten or fifteen phones at the school for the blind, so they needed a switchboard.  I think they had switches instead of plugs there.  On the weekends I would clean the hallways in the little boys dorm.  I also cleaned dishes and washed tables.  I got paid for these things.   I was willing to do anything to earn money.  No work was beneath me. 

In the sixth grade the teacher asked everybody what they wanted to be when they grew up.  People were saying fireman, policeman, secretary et cetera.  I stood up and said, “I want to be a mother with six children.”  Everybody laughed.  That’s ok because I have 12.

Before I went to the school for the blind, Tex was taking me to Dr. Whitney.  Tex had told me that he was deep in debt because of my hospital bill.  He couldn’t afford to take me every week to the doctor.  I told the doctor that my brother couldn’t afford to bring me every week.  He said, “Get your brother.”  I called my brother in.  The doctor said, “Can you bring her every week if I don’t charge you?”  Tex said yes.  The doctor said, “I’ve got to see her every week.”  He was tearing down adhesions all the time.

Back in Detroit, 1941

When I got back from Baltimore I got a job taking care of a little boy (He was the son of a manager of a Buick Dealership.  While I babysat, the mother played cards and tennis.  She was a socialite.  She decided maybe she could get me to wash walls.  She also wanted me to wash dishes and serve people at her parties.  I told her that she didn’t hire me for that.  She hired me to take care of her kid.  She wanted me to stay on my day off to help her cook.  I said, “No, this is my day off and I’ve got plans.”  She said, “You’ve never done this before, have you?” I said, “Well, I’ve taken care of kids.”  She said, “You’re to smart to get into this,”  because I wouldn’t wash walls and windows and stuff.  She was paying mew to watch the kid, but she wasn’t paying me extra to do the cleaning.  I was supposed to do it while I watched the kid.  I wanted my day off because I planned to spend time with Bill.)and also a job as a short order cook and waitress at the Three Bears Restaurant on Harper.  Then I got a job in the mailroom at Chevrolet where they mail out the advertising.  I collated the materials and stuffed them in envelopes.  I remember at Chevrolet, we had ten minutes in the morning to go to the bathroom.  I would go to the bathroom and come back and work.  The girls would go to the cafeteria and have a roll and coffee.  They’d be gone for half an hour.  They had a big layoff at Chevrolet.  The supervisors decided to keep me.  I was the only one they kept.  I was surprised.  But they told me that I don’t waste time.  I remember the other girls telling me that I worked to fast.  I said, “No, I don’t work fast, I work at a speed that is comfortable for me.  Not hard on me, just comfortable.”  So they kept me after the layoff.  Then they had a bigger layoff and they closed down that whole office.  After that I got a job at Briggs manufacturing on Mack and St. James in Detroit.  They also had a layoff there and they kept me and another girl that had one hand after the layoff.

Before I got married, I was living with a family on Rohns St. in Detroit who had a room for rent.

Getting Married

Bill wanted to get married while he was still in Law school.  But his dad said that if he got married, his mother couldn’t read to him any more.  I only had partial sight and I couldn’t read as much as she was.  So I suggested to Bill that we postpone our marriage until he got through with Law School.  After he took the Bar exam we would get married.  That’s what we did.  He passed all sixteen subjects in the bar exam and we set a date for our wedding.  He didn’t have a job in Law yet, but we set a date for our wedding anyway.  Right after he took the Bar he said, “When are we going to get married.  He took the bar in 1943.  He got notice that he passed in September and we set our wedding for November.  We were married on November 27th, 1943.

Small Businesses

Bill went to several different places to seek a job in law, but he always got turned down because he was blind.  He was a very discouraged person.   In the meantime he sold products made by the blind door to door.  He sold brushes, towels and rugs.  He and Bob Mahoney wanted to start a Tot shop.  (Bob Mahoney was a blind friend of ours. For many years he was a State Representative in Lansing.  Bill and I stood up for them at their wedding.  When we had a baby, Bob would come to the hospital and spend time with Bill.  When Bob’s wife was having a baby, Bill would go to the hospital and spend time with Bob.  They were in school together, but Bob was in a lower grade.  They became very good friends.)  They wanted to start a tot shop  I did a lot of checking with wholesale houses.  I was the buyer and the one who kept the records.  I also worked in the store.  I couldn’t handle it all myself so I asked Aunt Ruth if she would work.  She wasn’t working at the time.  She did.  They started the store in 1943.  It was on Harper near B---.  It was called Joyce-Mahoney Tot Shop.  Then the boys decided that they would sell the tot shop.  They sold it.  I was very happy about that because it was to much for me to keep running downtown to get supplies.

Our first house

After I was married we bought a house on Rolfs place in Detroit. I was going to work at least a year after I was married.  I told Bill after we bought the house that all my money had to go into the house, either paying it off or improving it. Downstairs, the house had two bedrooms, a frontroom, dining room, kitchen and a bathroom.  Upstairs it had two bedrooms.  It also had a basement and a garage.  It was an old house which needed a lot of repairs.  The first thing I did was put brick siding on.  I had somebody put a new roof on.  I got storm windows.  We had to have coal for our furnace.  When Bill was down there in the morning getting the fire started, I saw the flames shooting out at him.  It scared me to death.  I heard that you could get your furnace converted to gas.  Not everybody could get it converted.  You had to have a good reason because this was during war time.  So I had to write a letter to the gas company and ask them for permission to convert our furnace to gas because I was afraid for Bills life.  They let us do it.  This was nice because now we had a thermostat.  It was great.  The man who had our contract, a Jewish gentleman, said he never saw anybody pay off a house as fast as we did.  That was because my whole paycheck went into paying off the house.  I thought, “If I’m only going to work about a year, I’d like to have our house free and clear.”  We paid $3250 for the house when we bought it.  It was quite cheap and reasonable for those days, but it needed a lot of fixing.  Bill agreed that he would earn the money for gas and light and food and my money would go completely toward the house.  You got to make a commitment to decide what you’re going to do so that you can accomplish what you want to do.  This way the house was free and clear.  We paid it off in a year and a half.  Then Pat was Born.


Bill was told (by social services) that he had a wonderful opportunity in Jackson as a lawyer.  So we put our furniture in storage, sold our house and went to Jackson.  That Lawyer had Bill work for him on small suits, and Bill didn’t make much money at all.  After we’d been there about two or three months I said, “This is never going to work.  We are going into our savings.  We did much better in Detroit.”  So we moved back.  Bills dad looked out for another house for us.  We bought another house in Detroit.  It was a flat.  We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs and that helped pay for the house.  It was on Farr Street near Miller Road. 

Then Bill and Bob decided they would sell industrial supplies to factories.  So the two of them went to factories and sold push brooms, brooms, chip brushes, paint brushes, etc.  he did that until he became a prosecutor.


The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office

We were at that house when  Bill told me that he didn’t want anything more to do with law.  He had given up because the Dean of the law School had also asked the Republican Prosecutor to hire Bill.  He said over and over that he would do it, but he never did.  Bill told me to tell his lawyer friends that he wasn’t home, even when he was.  He didn’t want to talk to them.  This broke my heart, especially with two friends that I knew were really friends, Rob Meyers and Fred Romanoff.  Rod had gone to high school with Bill.  Hed been on the debate team and played chess with him.  Fred had gone to Law school with Bill at Wayne university.  These two gentleman were friends.  One day rod called and Bill wasn’t home.  I told Rod that I felt very bad about something that I had done.  I told him that I had lied to him about Bill not being home when he really was home.  I told him that Bill was so discouraged that he didn’t want anything more to do with law.  It was near election time.  It wasn’t but a few days later that Rod called me up and said, “Bert, Fred and I have a great idea.  Gerald K. O’Brien is running on the Democratic ticket.  I’m going to go to him and tell him that I’m going to work for him, and if he gets elected, he has to hire Bill.  Fred is going to do the same thing with the Republican prosecutor.  We’ll see what happens Bert.”  What happened was that the Democratic Prosecutor got in.  He called our home the day after the election and asked for Bill.  He told me he wanted to interview Bill.  Bill was out working, selling door to door.  When Bill came home, he said, “I cant do it Bert.  I’ve forgotten to much law, I cant do it Bert.”  I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!  This is the dream you had.  You mean you are just going to throw your dream out the window.  I’ll tell you what, you go down to the interview and if you get hired, you wont have to work any more selling door to door.  Ill ask Tex to lend me enough to live on  until the first of the year.  You can pay him back when you get your job.  You ask your mother to read to you from now until the first of January, and I’m sure you will remember all the law.  I know you think you will remember, just reviewing it.”  So that’s what he did.  He went down for the interview and he was hired.  He went down to his mother’s house in East Detroit (Eastpoint) every day, and she read to him.  My brother lent me the money.  It worked out just the way I thought it would.  He was a great prosecutor. 

The first time I met Gerald K. O’Brian was at a staff party.  He came over to me and said, “You know Mrs. Joyce, in the beginning, I had no idea what I was going to do with Bill Joyce.  But Bill Joyce knew so much law, it wasn’t any problem.”  They put Bill in Warrants and that’s where he stayed.  He would listen to cases.  He would not order a warrant against anybody unless he had heard both sides, because he didn’t want to give anybody a record.  His job was to decide whether or not to issue a warrant against somebody.  If he issues a warrant against somebody, it gives him a criminal record.  Bill was here the other day and he was talking about one of his managers named Marv coming before Bill.  This manager was going with a divorced lady named Alice, and her ex-husband came over to her house intending to kill her.  When he came with a gun, the manager took a baseball bat and hit him.  He was going to prosecute the manager for assault and battery.  Bill said to the ex-husband, “Did she invite you over to her house?”  The man said no.  “Then what were you doing there with a gun?  You shouldn’t have been there.”  At the end of the conversation, Bill said, “If I ever hear that you are bothering her again, I will lock you up so long that you will rot in jail.”  Alice said to her husband that nobody had had any effect on her husband before that.  But after that, her ex-husband left her alone.  The ex-husband said as he was leaving, “That’s what you call blind justice!”  Bill was known to save the county thousands of dollars because he would listen to both sides and then decide if there was cause for prosecution. 

Also, with people who had a first offense, if Bill had a feeling that they were a good person who should have a second chance, he would tell them that he was going to put them on probation to him for a year.  He called this a Peace Bond.  If they didn’t get into any more trouble in that year, he would throw that record out.  However, should they get in any trouble before the year was up, he would hold that record against him. 

There is a colored lawyer in Detroit who was from New York.  When he was eighteen he was brought in for drugs.  The kids was in a bad neighborhood and was getting involved with drugs and prostitutes.  As he was leaving Bill’s office, Bill said, “Would you stay a little bit, I’d like to talk to you.” Bill said to him, “The first thing I want you to do is move out of that neighborhood.  That’s a bad neighborhood.  The second thing I want you to do is to get  away from those people.  The third thing I want from you, is I don’t ever want to see you in the prosecutors office again unless you’re a lawyer.”  He claims that Bill changed his whole life.  He moved out, went to school and became a lawyer.  He’s a lawyer in Detroit now. 

Bill said a lot of the neighbors in Grosse Pointe had problems.  I remember we went to a picnic once and one of the people from Grosse Pointe came up to me and said, “Boy, I was before your husband and he gave me hell.  He made me see the light and I straightened up real fast.”  

The Farr Street House

We lived on Farr street until 1950.  Barbara, Margaret and Bill and Mike were born while we lived in that house. 

While Bill was a prosecutor, I kept up the Industrial Supply business.  I did that until 1970.

My Mother’s Stroke

While we were living on Farr street, my mother had a stroke.  She was paralyzed on her whole left side.  She was in Ford Hospital.  I asked Bill if I could take her home with me.  Tex and Bill  got me a hospital bed and helped me pay for the medication to take care of her.  When I took her out of Ford Hospital, the doctors said, “She will never walk again.”  I was thinking, “Lord, you and I know better, she is going to walk again. And You’re going to giver me some ideas as to what to do.”  The first thought I had was to get her blood circulating.  So I massaged her, towards her heart, five or six times a day.  The second thing was that I had to get her strong enough so that she could stand on her feet and hold a spoon.  So I thought of different exercises to do those things.  I would literally bend her knee.  When I felt a little resistance I would hold my hand against the sole of her foot and had her straighten out her leg.  I thought that would give her the strength to stand.  For utensils, I would put my index finger and thumb together and I would have her do the same.  For pulling, I would pull towards me and she would pull towards her.  This way she would get the strength to feed herself.  In the beginning I was literally moving her hands and moving her legs because she could not move them herself.  But after I did it for quite a while, I began to see that she could do it a little bit.  From there she got better and better and better.  I think it was about two months later that she was getting up and walking to the bathroom.  She wasn’t walking spryly.  She was getting up and shuffling her feet.  But she was walking.  So we had another appointment to see the doctor at  Ford hospital.  This time she walked in.  When the doctor saw this, he turned to me and said, how on earth did you do it?”  So I told him all the things that I did.  And that was the beginning of therapy, I think.  I could have made money if I had patented my ideas.  The first idea I had was when I was fifteen and I was painting.  I got the idea to hold a piece of cardboard against windows and trim when your painting.  Now they have little plastic things that you buy that do the same things.  The second thing that I could have made money on was when I had Bill take the seat off a dining room chair and screw a toilet seat to the chair.  I put that in my mother’s bedroom in the beginning because she couldn’t walk to far.  It felt awfully good to be able to stand up and go to the toilet instead of the bed pan.  She hated the bed pan.  I could have patented that idea too.  Somebody else patented it later on.  But it was amazing how God gave me ideas about what to do.  I was very grateful.

Bill’s Job

There wasn’t anybody who loved their job as much as Bill.  He loved his job.  He used to say to me, “Boy, it’s a shame to get paid for doing something you love so much.”  And I said, “No, that’s the way to go!”  I know that I told my children when they were looking for a career: find something that you really love.  That way when 7you look at the clock, you’ll say, wow, it’s five o’clock, where did the time go.?  That’s better than looking at the clock and saying: eleven o’clock! Oh no! Four more hours to go and I don’t know if I’ll make it!” 

The Kids

As the kids grew older and even when they were small, there were so many funny things the kids did.  I would tell Bill about them and he would laugh.  I wish I had written down the things that the kids did that amused me so much.  I remember that every night I would tell Bill about something that the kids did that had made me laugh and we’d laugh about it again.  To me the kids were fun.  I always enjoyed to kids.  Bill would leave in the morning and he would say, “Now don’t let anything happen to the kids.  I don’t care about the house, just don’t let anything happen to the kids.”  Then he would call me around noon and ask me what I was doing.  I’d say, I’m sitting in the rocking chair rocking two kids.”  He’d say, “No wonder you don’t get anything done.”  He didn’t really care, just as long as the kids were ok. 

The House on Newport

After I had the Twins, Bill and Mike, we moved out of the house on Farr St.  Then we moved to a house on 5050 Newport in Detroit in 1950 just as Bill started at the prosecutors office.  We had two bedrooms downstairs and three upstairs.  There was a bathroom with a sink upstairs and a full bath downstairs.  It was a very nice house.  It was made out of brick.  It cost us $11,000 in 1950.  It had a garage also.  We moved there because we could afford a better home then.  When we bought that house I said, I hope we never move again.  All the rest of the kids up to Jimmy were born at the house on Newport.  Bob and Carol were born at the house we moved to later on Lakewood.  We lived in this house until 1957.  The only reason we moved was because we suspected one of our neighbors of poisoning Bill’s leader dog.  There was an eighteen year old boy who lived next door to us.  In November, he squirted our dog with cold water.  Nietzche was out there barking ferociously at the fence where the boy was washing his car.  I called Nietzche to me and she was soaking wet.  This was in the middle of November and it was cold.  It was near freezing.  I said, “Jack, did you squirt my dog?”  He said yes.  I said, “Why?”  He said he didn’t know.  The dog hated him with a passion after that.  I mean, when he was out there, she would run at the fence like she was going to tear it down and kill him.  (This was Bills leader dog.  I never had a leader dog until much later.  I used to use his leader dog when I wanted to go for a walk by myself.  I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I figured that I fed the dog and brushed the dog.  She loved me just as much as Bill so I figured she would work for me.  And she did.  All his dogs worked for me.)  That night, she came in acting like she was sick.  She bloated up.  I had to call a vet and two vets came out.  They had to puncture her because she was blown up so big.  They took her in and she died.  It seems like they said that she was poisoned.  So Bill said, “We don’t need trouble, so lets look for another place to move to.”  The man next door (the father of Jack)  was a policeman.  We looked for a new place and found Lakewood and moved there.  But we would never have moved if things were different.  We liked Newport.  And it was easy for Bill to come home from work there because he took the bus.

The Hunters

I remember when we were on Newport, I bought roller skates for all the kids and they would skate to Chandler Park.  Everybody would ask where they could rent the skates from.  I took the kids to play baseball.  I used to take them to Belle Isle once or twice a year.  I took them to all the things that Mrs. Hunter had for all the blind kids to go to and the blind people to go to.  (Mrs. hunter took charge of calling baseball and football teams to get tickets for the blind to go to the games.  She didn’t get paid for it.  She lived in Dearborn Heights.  I would call her every day and she would call me every day.  She would say, “Bert, I’ve got this and this, do you want to go?”  She always gave me first choice.  She was blind.  She was a very dear friend of mine.  I met her at the same dramatic club which I met Bill at.  She didn’t like me at first because she like Bill too.  She wanted to invite Bill to a concert and he said, “Can I bring Bert along?”  She said no.  So he didn’t go.  But what was really funny, was that I was sort of dating Harry Hunter..  I wasn’t dating him very seriously.  I just enjoyed dancing with him etc.  He wanted to get engaged and married.  I said, “You might as well forget about me because I don’t have any feeling for you.”  So we broke up and he didn’t ask me anywhere after that.  And then I met Bill.  I did have feeling for Bill, but I never told him that.  It was funny that Harry then went with Olga.  Olga had liked Bill a lot but was disappointed because Bill didn’t like her.

We went to Tiger games, and Olga arranged for the kids to go to concerts, and Christmas Parties at Kern’s (a department store on Woodward across the street from Hudson’s.  It had a big clock on it and everybody met under the clock.  “I’ll meet you under the Kern clock.)  She arranged for us to go to circuses and whatever was up, like sport shows.  If there was something going, she would call me up and see if I was interested in taking the kids.  Then she would give me enough tickets to take the kids.  That was very nice.  She was very good to me.  Then one time, a Blind organization was looking for someone to organize activities for the blind and get paid for it.  I thought, “This is great!”  Olga has been doing this for fifteen years.  It would be some justice if she could do this work and get paid for it.  Because there is nobody better than she is.  So I called them up and recommended her.  They asked, “Does she have a college degree?”  I said no.  “Then we cant hire her.”  I said, “Why not?  She’s had fifteen years of experience doing it for nothing.  She has done an excellent job.  Why couldn’t you hire her?”  They said, “Because she has to have a college degree.”  They never got anybody as good as Olga. 


At the church we went to at Newport, there was a priest that I liked a lot named Father O’Keefe.  I liked to go to his mass.  Bill would take some of the kids to the six o’clock Mass and then I’d go to the later mass.  He found out that I liked his mass a lot. So he stopped at our house.  When we went for a walk we would stop at the church for a while.  The churches were open at that time.  I remember how horrified I was one time when I went to go to the Church.  I walked there and it was locked.  That was later on Lakewood. 

I became Catholic when I married Bill.  I was taking instructions from a priest.  I disagreed with a lot of the things he said.  I told him I was going to stand up at my sisters wedding.  He said I couldn’t do it because my sister was Lutheran.  (I was raised Lutheran.)  I said to him, “Absolutely nothing is going to convince me that God wants me to leave my family just because I’m going to become a catholic.”  He said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with me.  I said, “Do what you have to do.”  My sister had a baby and I was supposed to be the Godmother.  He said I couldn’t do it.  I said, “Father, let me tell you one more time, there is nothing on God’s green earth that will convince me that God wants me to leave my family completely just because I’m going to become a catholic.  I still think that I’m intelligent enough that if something happens to my sister I can make sure that my Godchild goes to a Lutheran church.  The priests name was McNamara.  He said he didn’t know what he was going to do with me.  He said that he should excommunicate me.  I said, “Do what you have to do.”  The odd part is that when we moved here to this house in 1969, I got a call.  I answered the phone and it was Father McNamara.  He whispered, “Is your name Bert Joyce, and used to be Bert Duey?”  I said yes.  He said, “I will never forget you.”  I said, “Good Father!  I will never forget you!”  I had argued with him about going to a different church.  I said, “If I were in a place where there was no catholic Church near there, but there was a Presbyterian church near there, why couldn’t I go to a Presbyterian church?”  Because I thought that God was over all churches.  I didn’t think it would be a sin to go to another church.  I once had a situation like that where I did go to a Presbyterian Church.  He told me I couldn’t do it.  I said, “Well, sorry father.”  And I did it.  Not to long ago, Jim called me up and said, “Mother, what time are the Masses at St. Clement’s?”  I said, “Eight, Ten, and Twelve.”  He said, “I’ll go with you to the ten o’clock one.”  For some reason, he thought it was ten thirty I had said.  So here it was ten twenty and it was to late to go to St Clemens and he was still not here.  So I called the Presbyterian Church near us and asked what time their service was.  They said ten thirty.  So Jim got here at twenty-five after ten.  I said, “Jim, we cant go to St Clement’s, but we can go to the Presbyterian Church where Amy used to go.”  So that’s where we went.  I feel like God is in all the Churches.  If the  people didn’t believe God was in their church, they wouldn’t go.  So I am flexible I guess. 

Sometimes Bill would handle a divorce.  I would say to the people, “Do you go to church?”  They usually said no.  I would say, “You know, it would be nice if you found a church that you really liked.  It might make a difference in your life.  And Bill would say to me, after they left, “Now Bert, you know there’s only one Church.”  I would say, “I don’t know Bill, I think God is over all those churches.”  I just felt that if people went to church, they would find peace and resolve their problems and stay married.


A College Course

We lived on Newport until 1957 when Kathy was a baby.  Pat was about 12 years old.  At that point I had 9 children.  I heard that at Wayne University they were giving a course for people who might have a heart attack and wanted to do things easier.  It sounded good to me so I called them up and asked them if I could join it.  They said, “By all means.”  I went to the class.  The one thing I learned there was how to relax.  The told me to lay down on the couch and put my feet up on the end and try no to thin of anything, which was difficult.  I would lay down when I put the kids to bed for a nap and I would think, “I better go down and put some diapers in the wash, or I’d better do the dishes, or I’d better get dinner started.”  The instructor said, “Forget about everything.  Just stay there for fifteen minutes and don’t think about anything.”  So I tried that.  I said, “No I’m not going to get up and wash dishes or do laundry.  I’m just going to stay here.”  It was an accomplishment because when I was tired, I could lay down for five minutes, go to sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed.  I remember one time when bill came home from work and I was exhausted.  I asked Bill to watch the kids while I slept.  I lay down on the couch and put my feet up and went to sleep.  Later I got up and said, “Thanks, Honey.”  He said, “Do you know how long you slept?”  I said, “No, don’t know, don’t care.”  He said, “I’m going to tell you anyway.  Five minutes!”  He used to say he wished he could go to sleep like me.  He used to have trouble going to sleep sometimes.  It was nice though, because I would get tired during the day and I would just lay down for five minutes and feel better.  The other things I learned from that course is when you’re dusting, use both hands.  They had never heard of anybody coming to the course because they had as lot of children, but they thought it was a good idea. 



Barbara had gotten ringworm on the inside of her elbow and when she hugged the kids she gave them ringworm on the back of her neck.  Nine of the kids had ringworm.  I had some medication to put on the kids.  Everybody said the ringworm would stick around for a long time.  I decided I wasn’t going to have it for a long time,  I made the kids change stocking caps and babushkas three times.  I washed all there clothes and all their bedding.  I pinned sheets over their blankets so as not to have to wash that.  I tied diapers over their hands so they wouldn’t scratch the ringworm at night and spread it.  I washed the railing and the telephone.  The kids couldn’t sit on the furniture.  I shampooed al that.  They had to bring in their own kitchen chair and sit on that to watch TV.  I got rid of the ringworm in three months.  When the nurse came out from the board of health, she said it was all gone.  She said if I could do it, anyone could do it.  But they didn’t want to work as hard as I did at it.


The Kids in School

We had all our kids in Catholic school.  They went to St. Martins down on Dickerson and Jefferson.  The first five kids went to that school.  Pat’s teachers weren’t to bad.  Barb had a problem with her math class.  The sent home a note which said, “Don’t help your kids with math because you might confuse them.”  Barb came to me and said she didn’t understand fractions.  This was at the time that new math came in.  I said, “ Barb we were told not to help you.  Why don’t you ask your teacher.”  She said, “Mom, I’ve asked her.  She says to look in the book.  I’ve looked in the book but I don’t understand it.”  I said, ”In that case, sit down and Ill teach you about fractions.”  I taught her about fractions and she ended up getting a B so I didn’t confuse her.  That upset me with that teacher.  Mike had a good nun for a teacher and Billy had a terrible nun.  Billy was not bring papers home in second grade.  I called up the sister and said, ”Sister, I don’t know if Billy is throwing his papers away or what.  But he is not bringing home any papers for me to look at.  Mike is bringing a lot of papers home.”  She said, “I’m sorry, but I’m so far behind that I haven’t gotten a chance to check them.”  It seems to me that a second grade teacher can get a sixth grade kid to check the papers and she can look at the results.  I saw no excuse for it.  I said, “How is Billy doing?”  She said he was doing just fine.  I got the report card and he got a D in Reading!  That to me is absolutely terrible, like he’s not even there.  I said to Billy, “You’re not going playing for quite a while now honey, we’re going to work on reading.”  I took him back to Phonics.  They were teaching him to sight read.  I didn’t believe in that so I taught him Phonics.  If he heard a story, he was pretty good at remembering it.  So when he read a story, it made sense.  But one time, with one particular word, he didn’t make sense.  So I said to Kathy, who was an excellent reader, “Tell me if Billy is reading the words right.”  She said no.  He was just making up the story so it sounded good.  I had her always checking his reading and he got better.  I thought about it and I thought, “Barb and Billy don’t have good nuns and none of them are very exceptional.  Here I am paying tuition.”  I had heard that the Guyton Elementary school in my area was the best Public school in the state.  S I pulled all the kids out of Catholic school and put them in public school.  Of course, the Catholic people said, “How can you pull your kids out of a Catholic Scholl and put them in a Public school?”  I said, “If my kids aren’t learning to good, then I don’t have any problem with doing that.”  They had wonderful teachers at this Public school.  Dan had a teacher who was so good that I called up the school and said, “Don’t ever let that teacher leave that school.”  They said, “Would you believe that she is a doctors wife and just likes to teach.” 


When Pat went into High School, I could have sent her to the mixed public school, which was Southeastern which had a lot of black people at it.  She would have had to take two busses to get there.  At St. Martins Church the acoustics weren’t that good and I couldn’t always understand what the priest was talking about.  So I ventured over to St. Ambrose, a smaller church in Grosse Pointe on Altar Road.  We went there and I could understand the priest very well.  We were on the borderline and we were supposed to go to St. Martins.  At that time, I had to get permission to go to St. Ambrose.  I went to the priest and said, “I go to church to listen.  I can’t understand the words that the priest is saying all the time.  I think the acoustics are bad.  Can I go to St. Ambrose?”  He said OK.  So I went to St. Ambrose


The mother superior called me and said that I could send all my kids to St. Ambrose, so I did.  I switched them out of public school and put them in St. Ambrose.  Guyton was the best public school but I thought the Catholic school was better. 

The House on Lakewood

We moved to 709 Lakewood in Detroit in 1957.  Lakewood was a large home.  It had two bedrooms upstairs for the children.  I could put double beds in each bedroom.  Downstairs it had a master bedroom.  It had a great big living room and a great big dining room,  and a big kitchen.  It had a large basement which gave the children a lot of room to play in.  They could roller skate or bicycle down there or do whatever they wanted.

The Fire

After we moved in and lived there for a while.  There was a fire that started in the basement.  About two o’clock in the morning, Pat noticed there was a lot of smoke in the bedroom and upstairs.  She called out, “Mommy! Daddy! Fire!”  I called the fire department.  They found there was an electrical fire in the basement.  I remember that Bill hollered “Fire!” out the window.  There were policemen across the street.  They came over.  Bill had Bobby.  Bill handed Bobby to them and the policeman took him downstairs.  Dan was hollering upstairs, “Mother! Daddy! Smoke!”  I told them to join hands and I would lead them down.  The smoke didn’t bother me and I didn’t need to see—I knew the way out.  I lead them out the front door.  They were going to take me to the hospital because I was covered with smoke.  They said I didn’t realize how black I was.  My teeth were black, my face was black from the smoke.  For three months I spit smoke.  When I got out on the porch and they wanted to take me to the hospital, I wouldn’t go until all the kids were out.  They found Bill had crawled into a closet upstairs.  When they told me all the kids were accounted for, that was when I went to the hospital.  We lost a leader dog, Sandy, in the fire because she was in the basement

What was nice about the house on Lakewood was that the girls had access to our car.  If they went out for the evening, they would tell us when they were coming back.  Five minutes to eleven I could open the door and the girls could drive in.

A school representative came to me about Bill and Mike.  Bill and Mike didn’t like St. Ambrose because they thought it was a cliquish school.    There was Southeastern which took two busses to get to and Denby which took two busses to get to.  So, the school representative said I could only send one child there.  So I sent Mike first.  They accepted Mike.  Later on they accepted Bill.  Both Bill and Mike graduated from Denby.  It was at Denby where Bill met Debbie.  He asked me if he and Debbie could get married.  I said, “You’re old enough to decide for yourself.  Otherwise, if you wanted to, you would blame it on me.  This way you have to take the blame yourself.”  So they got married.

The remainder of this oral history was recorded in the year 2000, after Bertha had suffered a stroke, and some memory loss.

Pat went to St. Ambrose and graduated.  She went to college at Wayne State University.  She got a partial scholarship.  Wayne State University was the closest and that’s where Bill had gone.  That was also where I had some partial credits.  When the kids were in high school I said they could go to Wayne, Wayne, or Wayne.  That’s why most of them went to Wayne.  And they did well.   Dan and Kathy went to Wayne medical school.  Pat went to Michigan Medical School. 

Bill really loved his job as a prosecutor.  The children would always say that they wish they could love their job as much as their dad did.  And Bill used to tell me how he loved his work and that it was a shame to get paid for something he loved so much.  I decided that, no, that was the way to go—to love your work and get paid for it.  They ran Bill for judge one year in the circuit court, but he didn’t get it.  He was Mr. Michigan one year.  He represented the highest of everything. 

Marge wanted to go to Sienna Heights College in Adrian.  She was smart. She talked to her dad about it first.  I would have had her go to Wayne. Her dad said OK, she could go there.  He talked to the Dominican Sisters about a partial scholarship for Marge to go to Adrian. She at first wanted to become a nun.  I refused that.  She was only 17 at the time.  I decided she should wait till she was 21 to decide if she should become a nun or go to college.   She didn’t oppose that, so that’s the way it was.  Because she was under eighteen, she had to get both parents approval to become a nun.  She graduated there and decided that she didn’t want to become a nun.

Mike and Bill were both in the Coast Guard.  They joined right out of high school.  They were stationed at Belle Isle.  It worked out well for them.  If they had not joined the Coast Guard, they would have been drafted for the war in Vietnam. 

Mike called me from New York and told me he wanted to get married to April on August 4th, 1974.  He knew April’s brother in the Coast Guard.  He met April through her brother. Pat called me up and told me she was getting married August fourth.  I told her she couldn’t because Mike was getting married then and we had to go to New York for that.  She picked out the week before that, July 27th, because Marge was still in town and she wanted Marge to stand up at her wedding. 

Barb and Lou met because they worked in the same school.  Barb wanted to get married and they got married in my back yard.

Kathy Schindler lived in Centerline with her mother and father.  Dan met her and started dating her.  She went with him when he went to medical school.  He became interested in flowers because her dad was ver interested in flowers.  Dan wanted to get married at the Catholic church and Kathy wanted to get married at the Presbyterian church on Ten Mile Road.  At that time, because there were two different churches, they would have a priest and a minister conduct the ceremony at the same time.  The priest didn’t show up.  So Dan got married in the Presbyterian church.  Dan was in the Air Force.  He went to Medical School through the Air Force.  Kathy went with him when he was in the Air Force.

Carol went to Wayne.  I think she had some connection with a veterinary school.  I think there was a doctor who talked to her about veterinary school.

Bill was in Albuquerque. Bill was in charge of the UPS in Albuquerque.  He talked Sally into coming down to Albuquerque.  There, Sally met Abe. They got married down there.

Jan was a prosecutor like her dad.  Jan graduated from Wayne Law School. 

Jim was working for Sharrow associates.  Doug Sharrow became Jim’s father in Law.  They owned a temporary employment service where they would hire people out for different things.  They had a daughter named Amy.  Jim and Amy fell in love and they got married. 

Bob went to Eastern Michigan University.  He majored in accounting.  He stayed with Aunt Helen in Bellevile when he was at Eastern.  Bob and Jim  both played basketball in high school and college.  Bob got a scholarship to Eastern for basketball.  Bob married Tammy DeBano.  Bob met Tammy at his cousins wedding.  His cousin’s name was Ed.  Ed was marrying Chris.  Tammy was a dear friend of Chris and Tammy stood up for her at her wedding.  So they had Bob stand up with Tammy at that wedding.

The House in Centerline

The kids wanted me to move to a farm.  I had a forty acre place in mind.  When we came to this place in Centerline, I walked into the backyard and it seemed farm-like.  Since this was like a farm we moved here.  Bill could get to work from here on the Van Dyke Bus.  It took him right downtown Detroit. 

One day, Bill was talking to Pat on the phone and she said, “Get Mother on the other phone Dad.”  So Bill got me on the other phone.  Pat said, “I think Dad is having a heart attack Mom.  Call the doctor.”

I wanted all of the children to go to college, even the girls.  Bill’s mother said, “Why send the girls to college?  They are only going to get married.”  I said, “I don’t care if they get married.”  I really didn’t care.  But I wanted them to have something else to fall back on in case something happened to them and their kids.  If they were inclined to become a doctor, I encouraged them to become one.  If they were inclined to become a judge or prosecutor, I encouraged them to become one.  I encouraged Janice to become a prosecutor and I encouraged Marge to become a judge.  I was home the night she was elected judge.  I said, “Marge, if God wants you to be a judge, nothing will be in your way.”  She had a friend that called her up and said, “Mrs. Johnson, I noticed you don’t have any signs up in our county.  Do you have any that I could put up in our county?”  She said yes.  So the man came out and put up signs in that county.  After the election he said, “Do you have anywhere to store them?”  She said no.  He said, “Well I’ll store them and then we can put them up in two years again.”  Pat wanted to be a vet when she was younger.  When she got into twelfth grade she said to me, “I’ve changed my mind, Mother.  I want to be a people doctor.”  So she became a pediatrician. Carol she went to Michigan State and became a veterinarian.  But I accomplished my goal.  I wanted  all the girls to go to college.  I wanted them to get an education so they could take care of their kids if something went wrong. 

When we moved to Centerline, the kids attended Centerline High school.  I couldn’t afford to send them to St. Clement School.  They wanted $600 per kid.  I couldn’t afford that much per kid.  Centerline was supposed to be a good high school. 

I have a lot of friends in Centerline.  I know that when I need a friend, they are out there.


I was calling Wally, Andy’s brother, to give him a message about the bowling alley.  Andy answered and I said, “I must have the wrong number.”  He said, “Are you calling the Robinson house?”  I said yes.  He said, “You have it.”  I said, “Is Wally home?”  He said no.  I said, “Who are you?”  He said, “I’m his big brother Andy.”  I said, “I’m glad to meet you.  I’m Bert.”  He said, “Bert, would you go out with me?”  I thought, “Well, I’ve always liked Wally a lot.  I certainly must like his brother.  I like his voice.”  I said sure.  He said, “Do you like concerts?”  I said yes.  He asked what concerts I liked.  I said, “I have no idea what concerts are around.”  He said, “I’ll find out and call you back.  You can pick one.  So he did that.  We went to the concert and he took me out for dinner.  We’ve been going ever since.  I found out he used to square dance.  I square dance.  So I talked him in to going back to square dancing.  We square danced for a while.  I enjoyed his company very much.  I still do.

The Dogs

Deacon was my favorite leader dog because he loved kids and people.  But I knew he loved me the best of anybody.  If I went some place with him, he would remember where the place was.  Sometimes I thought he wouldn’t know where the place was but he would turn right into the right place.  He was Bill’s leader dog first.  Bill though Deacon was the dumbest dog he ever had.  Bill said he didn’t know where places were.  He didn’t work for Bill.  But he worked beautifully for me.  I thought Deacon was the smartest and best leader dog I’ve ever had.  Bill got another dog named Sandy.  I used Deacon.  After Deacon died, I got another dog named Mandy.  She was fair, but not as good as Deacon.  When I went to get another leader dog, they said, “What kind of dog do you want Bert?”  I said, “I want a dog that weighs about fifty or sixty pounds, and I want a dog like Deacon.”  They said, “You’ve got to forget about Deacon.  You’ll never get another dog like that.  Those dogs only come once in a lifetime.”

Murphy was a very small dog.  He could hear a car stop in the front of the house and would bark and let me know if it was somebody who shouldn’t be here.

The kids always had the idea that you bring in a stray and let Mother pet it once and then you’ve got it in with Mother.  That’s what they did with cats and other things.  When the kids were home we had a lot of pets.  We had a guinea pig and a cat or two and sometimes two or three dogs.  Bill used to say, “The next time the kids come home with a stray animal, let them ask me if they can keep it.”  Bill would always say no.  He said that I didn’t know how to say know.  That might be true.

Bob moved out after he got married.  Jim stayed with me the longest.  He worked at a carpet store for a while.  He had a company of his own.  He did carpeting and tiling. 

After  Nietzche died we got another leader dog named Deacon.