Myrtle R. Kelderhouse 2017-08-02 02:38:01
“Just fresh out of County Normal at Charlevoix and looking for a job, I heard about a vacancy on South Manitou Island. I applied for the job and, happily, was accepted. There was another attraction ... my boyfriend Lonzo Warner was a Coast Guardsman at the Island Station at the time.” “This was at the time of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, when any employment was appreciated. I remember a note written to me by a fellow student at County Normal that said, “Good luck next year, and may the wages rise!” The wages were $50.00 a month, with $20.00 of that going for room and board. I boarded with Lonzo’s parents, August and Rosie Warner, who lived on the point just between the Coast Guard station and the Lookout.” “In those days, being the teacher of a rural school meant one was also the Principal, the school nurse and custodian. One day in the fall of my first year as South Manitou’s teacher, one of the boys got a pine needle stuck in his eye while playing out at recess time. I had to play the part of nurse for the first time, and removed the needle without further injury to his eye.” “Besides teaching and nursing, there were the added duties of pumping water for the drinking fountain, splitting wood, building fires during the cold weather months, and sweeping and dusting after the students went home for the day. In cold weather, I would go to school early to get the fire started so the room would be warm when the students arrived.” “On one such morning, still all alone in the cold and dark schoolhouse’s classroom, I opened the stove door to begin the chore of building the fire, then went to the wastebasket for paper to kindle the fire. When I reached in, something leapt out and scared me out of my wits! I jumped onto the recitation bench and screamed! How silly, I thought, after thinking about it. It had to be an animal of some sort. It was too big for a mouse. What on earth could it be?” “Regaining my composure and going to my desk, I discovered how the culprit got into the building. There was broken plaster all over the desktop and the floor surrounding the desk. Looking up, I spotted the hole in the ceiling. Two of the older boys soon arrived, and after briefing them about the incident, we began the search for the intruder. He was found in one of the desks, looking very scared indeed ... probably from my insane screeching (which was by no means revealed to the boys!). It was only a poor little squirrel, who was no doubt having a morning breakfast on leftover apple cores from the day before.” “The heating system in the school left much to be desired. It was just a stove with a metal jacket around the outside, called a “space heater.” About the only space it heated was between its jacket and itself. One cold winter day, as my students and I suffered through yet another frigid day in our little schoolhouse, I thought, “Enough is enough!” It was terrible to have the students sitting there shivering so badly. How could we concentrate on learning while we were freezing to death! I sent them all home early that day. However I remained on duty, fully expecting to get some reaction to what I had done. It wasn’t long before I spotted two men coming across the field toward the school house; it was the School Director and the Coast Guard Captain.” “Upon their arrival, I invited them to sit and hear my explanation. After I was finished, and after they’d had the opportunity to sit for a few minutes where we sat all day, they agreed that the room was uncommonly cold, even though there was a good fire in the stove. I wasn’t discharged, but was told that I could take a week’s vacation ... while a new heater was installed. My students and I were quite comfortable for the remainder of the winter.” “As time went on, I grew increasingly fond of South Manitou Island and my students. I continued teaching on the Island for two more years, even though an important reason for originally coming to the Island was gone. Lonzo had been transferred to the Coast Guard station at Sleeping Bear. During my second teaching season on the Island, the weather was quite severe. The temperatures were below zero much of the time, and the lake was completely frozen over. The mail boat could not get through, and a Coast Guard cutter had to make its way as best they could into the Island to bring supplies.” “Yes, those were enjoyable years ... my three years of teaching on the Island. What a wonderful place to teach, with nature right at your doorstep - the many beautiful trees, the wild flowers, the farmland, all surrounded by the beauty of Lake Michigan. My three years as the Island’s young schoolteacher will forever have a special place in my heart. What was lacking in wages was more than made up for by what I gained in valuable experience, wonderful memories, and ... a husband.” Myrtle Kelderhouse of Port Oneida married Lonzo Warner on November 29, 1936. They had five children raised in Traverse City and then Grand Haven. Lonzo passed away on October 7, 1975 and Myrtle passed away on April 26, 1995. They are buried in Lake Forest Cemetery in Grand Haven. Story provided by the Leelanau Historic Society Museum in Leland, Michigan. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 10am-2pm from June-August. Www.leelanauhistory.org 231-256-7475 email@example.com
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