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My grandma, Marilyn Peterson, born Marilyn Jenkins was born July 11, 1934 in Windsor, Ontario. Her nickname growing up was Marno, and she was the daughter of Tom and Winnie Jenkins. She has one sister, two years her junior, Sharon. I am interviewing her to learn more about her life as a kid.
When I was yoonger, we didn’t have what kids typically haave in today’s generation. We didn’t have iphones, oor ipods, or cell phones, or laptoops, or video games. I played with dolls. I had nine dolls made out of china. I played with them everyday. My favourite doll was Martha and I always dressed her in a green dress. I also had a little organ made of metal. You’d crank it and it would go faster or slower. I think you’d have to use your imagination with it, so I guess it didn’t do much. We didn’t call others and arrange play dates, we basically just went ootside and stood outside their hooses and hahllered at the kids through the windoow to aask if they wanted to play. We’d just play with kids in oour neighbourhood. Usually, we couldn’t go out if our chores weren’t done. We’d play hopscotch, jump the ball, jacks, roller skating, jump rope, kick the can, and in the winter, we’d ice skate.
Our typical chores were taking oot the traash, washing the dishes, helping mother in the kitchen, preparing supper, and planting flowers in our gaarden.
I attended Prince of Wales for grammar school. In grade eight, I moved to Toronto for my father’s job. I attended Sanwich Collegiate and the Runnymeade Collegiate. For university, I went to Royal Victoria Hospital School of Nursing.
I was on the swimming team, but we didn’t have a pool at our school. We had to take the train downtown. We didn’t have clubs like the ones you have at school, they shut the doors and everyone went home. Nobody wanted to spend extra time at school when they didn’t even need to be there.
I was Presbyterian growing up and we went to church every Sunday. It was called Saint somebody…I think Andrew’s in Windsor. (singing) Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
I remember when the king and queen of England (George and Elizabeth) came through in a blue train. I got the day off of school to see them. I also remember when a big tornado came through and knocked down a big walnut tree outside my house. I remember this because the whole town was standing outside after the storm chatting and I got to stay up late and play with friends.
I didn’t receive an allowance. There was nothing for me to buy. Our mother didn’t allow us to buy candy. I’d be given five cents if I wanted to buy a mellow roll, which is strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate ice cream in a push pop like thing.
My grandmothers really liked me and Sharon. Probably because we were their only grandkids. We could get them into giving us twenty-five cents so we could buy ice cream.
My mother did the cooking. On Soondays, we usually had pot roost. We’d typically have chicken, potatoes, veggies, and jell-o. We never had Italian food. My mother sed Italians eat Italian food. Same thing went for Chinese food. I think my mother just didn’t know hoow to make any other type of food. She was taught what she was taught.
I came to the United States when I was 23 after finishing school. I came here because your grandfather is from here and so I just came along for the ride.
We moved to Florida right out of college and I remember going to the grocery stoore. There were two drinking fountains side by side and one had a sign above it that said “coloured” and the other said “white.” I had no idea what this meant, so I tried the white fountain, and water came oot. I tried the coloured fountain and water came oot. I don’t know what I expected to come oot, like a chocolate drink. I guess that was when I realized that not everything was innocent and how I thought it was.
Marilyn married Riley Peterson. Marilyn now lives in Wilmette, Illinois. She has three kids: Tom, Martha (my mom), and Heather. She has five grand kids, Christine, Colleen, Haley, Caroline, and Tim. She has been retired for twenty years, and is very happy with life.