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Stu’s family history as written by stu

I was born on September 15, 1949 in Port Huron, Michigan.  Although I have been told by my mother about the experiences and have photos of our apartments in Port Huron, MI and Sterling, IL, I have no memories of experiencing living in either of those places.  My Mom tells me about living above the garage in an apartment overlooking the St. Claire River, which was a major shipping channel and how children who got too close fell in and were never found.  I’ve been told about when my Mom went shopping to Detroit and I was left in the care of my Dad who would lose himself in books, and I was left untended and was playing with the wheel of a car.  Then the car moved and my leg was broken. 

We moved from Sterling, IL when I was 3 or 4 years old to Vineland, NJ.  This is where my first memories of life begin.  Briefly, my Mom was born in Glasgow, Scotland on October 15, 1924 to Bessie and John Wilson.  She was an only child.  My Grandfather was head Electrician for John Brown Shipyards at Clydebank, which built the original Queen Elizabeth (which sunk and burned in the Far East) and the Queen Mary, which is still moored in Long Beach Harbor.  My Grandmother was a nurse before she married my Grandfather.  My Grandmother was very Victorian, which meant strict and domineering towards my Mother and my Grandfather.  My Mother was an only child and moved to Southampton, England when she early in her childhood.  Basically, ships were built from the hull to constructing the exterior superstructure and then floated down to Southampton for the interior completion, christened and launched on their maiden voyage.  Most of my Mom’s memories and childhood stories are from her times in Southampton.  She remembers fondly the stories of the various ship travelogue stories and this fed her desire to see the world, especially America.  My Mom was sent to private schools, but only went to secretarial college.  She worked for the Inland Revenue (equivalent of the IRS).  During WWII Southampton was a “garrison town” (overtaken by U.S. solders) and was the staging area for the Normandy invasion.  From what I can gather my Mom was a flirt and very attractive.  She was a volunteer at the local Red Cross (USO) and would dance with the U.S. soldiers.  Also, she befriended a few of the U. S. soldiers and invited them home for dinner.  Two she talked about was one from Texas and one from California.  My sense is that my Mom had an idyllic picture of what America was like.  I also believe that my Mom had an affair with the Texas soldier who was also married.  The reason I have this feeling is that she called him on the 40th anniversary of the Normandy invasion and he was very surprised since they had had no contact since the war and he was still married.  He meant something deeply to my Mom, who was lonely and widowed at the time.  At the age of 24 my Mom came to America to visit friends in Michigan and she was introduced to my father.

My father was born in Hohokus, NJ on January 20, 1920.  My father had two brothers (Sylvester and Paul). My grandfather was an engineer for AT&T.  My Dad’s brother Sylvester died of TB at a young age. My grandfather was forced into early retirement and moved the family to up state New York to live on a farm.  My father rebelled against working on the farm.  His brother Paul was a “Mama’s Boy”.  My father was very smart and graduated from High School at the age of 16 and began studies at Purdue University (my grandfather’s alma mater).  Paul also attended Purdue.  After a year my Dad transferred to the University of Michigan where he graduated majoring in Forestry.  My Dad talks about his summer trip driving a Model A Ford to Montana to do summer internship work as a forest ranger.  He also talks about the fact that he didn’t want to do what he was told to do.