Helen Louise Raine Rowley Parent

Written with her daughter

Carol Louise Rowley Roberts

Fall 2005



My Parents

My parents were both from the Midwest. My mother, Minnie Belle Starr, had come from a family of five children. She was born October 22, 1883 in Keosaugua, Iowa. She resided there until she became a school teacher in Wyaconda Tp. Clark County, Missouri. My father, Samuel Jonathan Raine, also came from a family of five. He was born in Gorin, Missouri on January 18, 1884. He began working in Gorin after 3rd grade. His father saw no reason to go to school if he could make money for their family. So he worked with his family in the farm fields or what ever other work he could get. His father was an alcoholic and didn’t support the family. They lost their farm and became tenant farmers. My father was very ambitious. He left rural Gorin, Missouri to get a job in St. Louis as a street car conductor on the LaClede Line. He wanted to make money so he could marry my mother. They were married in Wyaconda Missouri on May 1, 1910. After they were married they lived in Chicago where he was trained as a steam fitter by Armor Meat Company. In spite of little formal education he was very successful at work. They moved to Detroit because he could get a high paying job ($5.00 a day) at Ford Motor Co. He stayed there until the union was organized. He joined the union and left Ford to take a variety of better paying union jobs. He worked on the Oriental Theater and Pontchartrain Apartments in Detroit.  The apartment building which is twelve stories high still exists in Detroit. It was quite “the place” at that time. It was completed in 1929.


My Early Years

I lived at 12th and Davison in Detroit. It later became the Davison Freeway which was the first freeway in Detroit. My grandparents Benjamin Asa and Clara Eliza Starr lived in the upstairs flat and we lived downstairs. Grandma had suffered a stroke and was an invalid. My mother and aunts cared for her along with a nurse and a girl named Gladys. Gladys was a child from a family that was very poor. They couldn’t afford to raise her so grandma and grandpa raised her as their child. My life seemed to revolve around those caring for grandma so had no time to play and no kids to play with. My grandpa was busy working but was very sweet to me. They thought that taking in foster kids might be a way for me to have kids to play with. That didn’t last long when they came down with chicken pox and gave it to me and then gave me head lice. My mother Minnie would always walk me across the street to kindergarten because we lived on a very busy intersection. Someone finally convinced her to let me walk across by myself and I almost got hit by a truck one day. The truck didn’t hit me only because it stopped at a store for a delivery. My mother totally fell apart after the incident. Shortly after that mom, dad and I moved to a home in the “suburbs”. Grandma and Grandpa Starr continued to live at the house on Davison until they died in 1929.


Our home at 15756 Princeton was so new there was not even a street in front of it yet. I watched them build the street. They used tin cans as fill for the street.  After the road was completed, it was possible to visit with other families on the street. I had a great time with so many kids to play with. When I was seven I finally got roller skates. Other kids had them long before that age but my mother was very protective of me. My first skates were “learner” skates and were very slow. Once I got my skates it was one of my favorite activities. Many of the families on Princeton had lots of kids and there always seemed to be someone giving birth. They had their babies at home and all the neighbor kids would gather under the window and listen to the sounds coming from the house. We imagined what was going on in there for the baby to be born – with all the screaming etc. One of the mother’s who had six kids always seemed to be sitting on her porch darning socks. She just let her kids take care of themselves. She taught me how to darn socks. Because we lived ½ blocks from the school we had lots of activities close by in the summer. The Detroit recreation department had a program five days a week at the school. I got to do crafts, dance, play games and sing during the day and at night play kick ball. The boys played baseball at night. They also taught me to run and I came in second at a race at Belle Isle.  I would have won except I turned around to see where the other runners were and one passed me.


Money was a concern because of the great depression. My mother made up embroidery patterns and sold them and would do embroidery for people. She also made fancy aprons and children’s clothing to sell. When she had enough to sell, we would also make some home made potato chips and bag them up. I would travel with her by streetcar to the more affluent parts of Detroit on Grand Blvd. with her “Boston Bag” full of wares.  We would sell the chips and clothing and then return home. While on our selling trip we would eat lunch at the dime store. I always ate a hot dog and my mother always ate ice cream. We could only afford one choice each.


My dad would come outside every evening and sit on his short ladder and water his lawn and garden. He’d keep his eye on me this way while I played with neighbor kids.  My mother would stay at home while my dad was friendly and visited with all of the neighbors. She only went to church meetings.  Every Sunday we would all go to church. Mom would have a roast cooking while we were at church.  When we came home we would all eat and then all afternoon dad and I would take a long walk. It was his only day off and I treasured the time with him.


Every other year we would go to Iowa and Missouri to visit family. I loved going there and seeing family. One of my greatest memories is going downtown to get ice cream with my dad and his dad. They always bought me a cone but not one for themselves. They just shared mine. I soon found out that if I bought a chocolate ice cream cone they wouldn’t eat it – so chocolate became my “favorite” ice cream (I really didn’t like chocolate but realized by getting that I could eat all of it).


We also went to Chicago every summer to visit mother’s sister, Aunt May. We rode the elevated subway there and I thought it was quite an adventure. I like looking down onto the buildings below as we rode by in the cars. I thought my cousin Merle was mean because he called me, “Helen, Helen,Watermelon”. I would run crying to my mother.


My mother’s sister, Aunt June and Uncle Wilson, and my cousins Carl and Arlene lived two doors down from us in Detroit. Aunt June was so much fun and a role model for me. She was a private duty nurse. Uncle Wilson had been one of her patients after he was injured severely. He did handyman work. They included me with their family in all activities after my homework was done. Every winter evening Dad and I went to Aunt June’s to play cards (Rook). Uncle Wilson, my cousins and Dad and I would play until Aunt June got home from her twelve hour nursing job and then she would join us. She worked 7am to 7 pm. If she was cold, she would stand over the furnace grate to warm herself and drink hot coffee before she joined us to play cards. My cousin, Arlene, says she remembers her mother going into the kitchen and removing her corset before playing cards because the stays would stick her in the ribs. My mother didn’t like outside activities and would not even allow cards in our home. She was quite a contrast from her fun loving sister. When Aunt June would pick me up for an activity my mother would give her a list of rules of what I could do or not do. Aunt June would let me do everything! She even taught me to sing “Three o’clock in the Morning” when I was only 3 years old. She knew it would upset my mother to hear me singing about dancing all night and she thought that was really funny. Aunt June was a nurse and every time she would finish a private duty case, she would party with my cousins and Uncle Wilson. She always included me in her party!


Schools Days

My grade school went until 8th grade. They were just beginning the new Jr. High concept and all schools weren’t the same. At our 8th grade graduation the girls all wore white dresses that we had to make ourselves. We could choose only the sleeve style. We could have set in sleeves or cap sleeves. I made mine with cap sleeves.


I attended 9th grade as my Jr High year. Our class wrote a poetry book and I had a poem in the book. This year was quite a hard year. My hard working dad could no longer get work in Detroit because of the depression. My parents were real savers so we did better than some, but the time still came when we could no longer make house payments. We lived in our home until the courts got around to evicting us. It was quite some time since nearly everyone was in the same situation so the courts were busy. By letting the house go they lost all the equity but were able to eat and to save whatever Dad made rather than making house payments. He finally had to go out of town to find work. He traveled to Midland, Michigan and lived there for five days a week every week. It took this heart wrenching blow to make me realize how much I appreciated my dad. No one ever left the family to work elsewhere back then except for dire emergency. I suspect he did that in some measure to assure that they would have money to send me to nurses training. He later was able to return to Detroit and work as “maintenance man” for 3M. 3M had just opened a small branch in part of the old Ford factory where he had first worked in Detroit. He retired from there many years later to move with us to Colorado.


My high school years were wonderful. I attended Cass Tech High in Detroit. It was a huge eight story building on a city block. We had 5,000 students. There was a school of commerce next door. We had a skywalk between the schools. We had to have a good GPA to be accepted at Cass Tech and had to maintain our GPA to remain in the school. By graduation we were ready to go into the work world. My best friend at school was Marceline Rowley. She transferred to Cass Tech from Kansas. She had moved to Detroit to live with her older brother, Sam, and his family after her mother and father died. She came during the school year and they asked me to show her around. We became closest of friends and were always together. One time I was standing by the “lost and found” room when a boy came up to me. He stopped and laughingly said, “What did you lose – Marce?” Her brother, Sam, was a teacher at Cass Tech. Marce took science and I took pre nursing as a major. Marce dated Bob Parent who was also a student at Cass Tech. He was in mechanical drafting. Marce and I were chosen to assist with registration for classes each year.  They would set up tables in a huge gym and all 5,000 students came there to pick their class schedules. Because Marce and I worked we were allowed to pick our schedules first. I always made sure I had a long lunch break. Why? Because during lunch break we could go dance in the orchestra practice room.  Every day I would quickly eat lunch and then head for the practice room and dance until classes resumed. The Detroit River water front was a short walk from Cass Tech.  They made Vernor’s Gingerale at the water front. If we had any money, we would buy a delicious Vernor’s cream soda made with Vernor’s and ice cream. As a Senior I roller skated across the brand new Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario, Canada with Marie Diem, Martha Phimister and a boy all of whom were classmates from Cass Tech. It was such a fun thing to do.  The bridge replaced the ferry that went across the river. It cost us $.05 to ride the ferry. If we just rode across on the ferry and stayed on we could come back without paying another nickel. If we happened to be lucky enough to have a nickel, we could choose between the ferry and a Vernor’s. We never had enough for both. Bob Parent and I graduated in January and Marce graduated in June 1935. They later married and I eventually married her brother, Ted.


 Marce Rowley 1935



Helen graduation from Cass Tech


My Nursing Days Begin


Dreams of being a nurse – I wanted to be a nurse because my Aunt June (my mother’s sister) was a nurse. She was the person who all the neighbors looked to for help when they had medical concerns and needs. She always told me that I could go with her. One day I went with her when a little neighbor girl was hit by a car. I saw Aunt June pick her up and hold her as she died.



I graduated from Cass Tech in January 1935 but could not enter nursing school until I was 18. So I continued at Cass Tech until then taking a variety of classes. In August 1935, I started nurses training. I was a student at Highland Park General Hospital at 369 Glendale, Highland Park, Michigan which is a suburb of Detroit. The hospital had about 100 beds. My mother and father paid all of their savings to allow me to attend school. It only cost $100 for all three years including room and board.


Dad’s hard working and their thrifty ways had made it possible for me to attend. That also made it possible in 1938 for them to buy a big old brick “fixer upper” house to move into when the eviction notice finally came to pass. Dad and my uncles did most of the repairs and mom rented rooms and fed college students from the Lawrence School of Technology. We had four boys and an unmarried teacher who ate meals there. It was like having younger brothers when I was at home. It was such fun. Every night after dinner, we rolled up the rugs and danced. Dad had danced as a young man so allowed us to dance. Mom had never danced.



While in nurses training I met a patient, Harvey Brown, and we double dated with Marce and Bob Parent.  Harvey had a twin sister, Peggy. Peggy and her fiancé, Harvey and I and Marce and Bob went on a camping trip to the Michigan sand dunes with Harvey’s mother as chaperone. We had a great time. We were engaged until Harvey broke off the relationship. Marce and Bob then encouraged me to stay active. I then began to go to the ballroom with other students. I also often went out with the young men who rented the apartment at our house. Since we all loved to dance we had fun together. We were just friends.


I had hepatitis, had an appendectomy and was in a car accident while in training so had three months to make up.  I couldn’t leave school until the time was made up. So I worked for an additional three months after the other students were finished. When I graduated from nurses training and moved back home I would take the streetcar down to the ballrooms to dance. My dad would meet me at the streetcar stop and walk me home even though the dances ended at 1am.  I am sure my mother insisted that he do that but he never complained. Bob Parent remembered that my mother would always give us a detailed map of how to get to wherever he and Marce and I were going. I remember that too - she would give us all the directions and then we would leave and go which ever way we wanted! Carol has the little red Detroit map book that she used for those directions.



January 1939

I worked in the newborn nursery at the Florence Crittenden Hospital in Detroit. I worked in the public area but they also had an unwed mother program. In that program the girls stayed in a dorm area and did light work on the premises. They were also required to take full care of their babies. I don’t know how long they could stay after the baby was born. Our nursery averaged 60 babies. The nurses changed shifts every two weeks. There were three nurses on the day shift and we were responsible for giving every baby a bath every day. Evening and nights had two nurses to care for the 60 babies. Each shift diapered and delivered the babies to mothers on 3-4 hour schedules. There was no “rooming in” as there is now in OB. The nurses did all of the diapering and the mothers just held their baby long enough for the feeding and then we took the baby back to the nursery. Our baby cart held ten babies. It was just a long box like cart where we lined up the babies next to each other. In order to fit ten babies in we put them in alternating one head to the top and one to the bottom. It was usually time to start picking up the first babies by the time we finished taking them all out to their mom. On return to the nursery, they were diapered and weighed if they were breast fed. If they didn’t weigh “enough” after breastfeeding a supplement was given.  Between times (what times)? Whew!) We also made formula, washed and sterilized bottles, folded laundry and charted. After eight hours of basically bending over double, it was hard to walk upright and breathe fully. I loved the babies but only stayed about six months. Pay was $70 a month. I could have stayed at my school where I trained and also have free room and board for the total pay of $30 a month. I didn’t need the room and board since my parents lived a short distance from the hospitals so I was fortunate to be able to live with them and make a little more money. I gave them money to pay for part of their expenses and bought my first car by paying ½ of the cost of a model T Ford. It was the courtesy car that had been used to drive dignitaries around in the Ford factory where my Dad worked and he bought it for a good price.



Summer 1939

I signed on with a General Duty Registry (basically a forerunner of Kelly Girls or Temps). They assigned us to hospitals usually in the downtown Detroit area. Those hospitals always seemed to need more help than they had and felt they saved money by calling in temps for help at busier times. We could plan our own schedules and only needed to tell them the day before if we wanted to work. That work was most apt to be split shift from 7a-12p and 4p-7p. They provided a dormitory room with pull curtains around beds for resting in between shifts if desired. Many girls hated it, but it suited me to a T. I was free evenings to go dancing (usually at the Grande or Graystone Ballrooms) where groups of boys and girls met. We got to know each other well. A lot of them were schools friends. In those days there were not many real dates among the kids who went dancing. No one had the money to finance any more than themselves because it was during the depression years. Whenever two girls danced together, it was understood that they wanted to dance and then two boys would come and take them as partners. It worked fine and everyone had a great time. Staying out late and taking a mid day nap was a good way of life for me. Since dances didn’t end until 1 am and then a big group would go and have a little snack somewhere.


My preferred working place was Harper Hospital – a general hospital with 6-8 identical floors. Each floor was run exactly alike so it made no difference where we were assigned. We all did “total patient care” which included, baths, medications, treatments, therapy or delivery to other departments for x-ray etc. There was no such thing as a nurse's aide. We did it all. At that time all surgery patients stayed 10 days (mostly flat in bed) so bed pans were a big item too. Rooms didn’t have adjoining baths so it meant all water, wash basins, bedpans and other equipment we needed would be in one utility room somewhere on the floor of about forty patients. I also worked sometimes at Woman’s, Grace and Blaine Hospitals but none of them were as well organized as Harper.


I took a break from hospital work a couple of times when a doctor needed temporary help in his office. The first one was in the Fisher building half way downtown. I worked for two pediatricians – Dr. Barnes and Dr. Groh and one dermatologist. I also worked occasionally for two Osteopathic Physicians in Highland Park and at the Osteopathic Hospital.  The first day I worked for one of the osteopathic physicians, Dr Holman, he had to amputate a finger in the office.


Family Life Begins


March 1941

I continued along this line of work until March 1941 when I went to St Louis, MO. I had met Ted Rowley the brother of my best friend Marce Rowley when he came home on leave from the Army. Marce and Bob had arranged a date for him with a girl who worked with Bob but Ted said not to call her again. He couldn’t get a word in edge wise. So they arranged a date with me. Ted and I went with Marce and Bob to Belle Isle where the fountain was frozen and then to a New Years dance at the Masonic Temple. Ted and I then sat up all night and talked. After he returned to his post in St. Louis he wrote and proposed marriage to me. I decided his two week leave was not long enough to decide if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. So I went to St. Louis to work while he was stationed there in the Army. He lived at the Jefferson Barracks.  I worked first at the St. Louis Maternity Hospital on the Barnes Hospital Campus. It was a beautiful area by Forest Park. However, I had applied for General Duty at the Missouri Pacific Hospital and they soon called me and I went there to work. Marce and Ted had spent some time there when their brother John was dying with cancer and they said it was a wonderful hospital. It really was a nice place to work. Back then they furnished housing for single nurses and the housing for Missouri Pacific nurses was in two lovely very old homes with fireplaces in each huge bedroom. They were beautiful quarters and each house had a housemother.  My housemother had been a seamstress and even helped me make my wedding dress!



July 4, 1942

Ted and I were married and we moved to a cute little apartment where we were very happy. But that stay was short because the Army chose Ted to go train the “Woman’s Army Corps” in Des Moines, Iowa. He left 10 days after we were married and was told he could not take family along. This was the first time the Army was to train WACS and they weren’t sure how the experiment would work. I moved back to the nurse’s home so that I didn’t have to live alone or take a streetcar to work. Seemed strange that years before my father, Sam Raine, had moved from Wyaconda, Missouri area to St. Louis so he could make money and marry my mother, Minnie Belle Starr. He was as a streetcar conductor on the La Clede line in the same town where I later lived and rode streetcars.


September 1942

Finally I was allowed to go to Des Moines, Iowa and join Ted. We rented a small apartment with a couch for sleeping for one week. We then found a small house and sub-let the apartment. I worked at Methodist Hospital. I knew I could always get a job immediately in OB because there were so many bedpans to pass that many nurses didn’t like to work there. I like OB because it was such a happy place and I loved babies.


October 1942

Ted was again transferred after only one month to Daytona Beach to continue training the WACS. I moved to Detroit to be with my parents while he relocated and found housing.


November 1942

We finally found a little apartment three blocks from the ocean in Daytona Beach. Our address was on North Wild Olive Ave. I worked in a small hospital in a huge old house. Everyone did everything. That meant I went to the kitchen for patient meal trays and all over the house for whatever else was needed. I assisted with everything from deliveries to surgeries. It was without a doubt, the most varied and interesting of my jobs.


December 1942

Ted was transferred to FT. Oglethorpe, GA. I stayed in Daytona because there was no housing at Ft. Oglethorpe. In January I left our apartment to room and board with friends.


March 1943

By the time I joined Ted in Ft. Oglethorpe, GA I was pregnant with Janice and too nauseated every day to work. We lived in an apartment in Rossville, GA near Ft. Oglethorpe. Ted borrowed cots from the Army for our temporary beds and we both woke up covered with bites (bed bugs – ugh!). He traded off those cots for new ones from a different supply room.


May 1943

We finally got housing at Ft. Oglethorpe and Janice was born there at the base hospital on September 17, 1943. Our quarters at the base were beautiful. We had three bedrooms and two floors. We had to buy a basic amount of furniture but the Army would move it for us.



Janice age 3 months


May 1944

Ted was called to overseas duty during WWII. Janice and I went back to Detroit and lived in Grandma and Grandpa Raine’s upstairs apartment.  I had to work at least six weeks at that time to keep my R.N. license, so I went to work part time at my training hospital again. It had been enlarged and seemed so strange. Carol was born there on December 26, 1944. While Ted was in the Battle of the Bulge, she was born at Highland Park Hospital.



May 1945

Ted was finally home from the war. He was temporarily assigned to Camp Ellis, IL and the girls and I remained in Detroit while he decided if he wanted to remain in the Army. When he came home from the war he initially didn’t plan to reenlist.


September 1945

The Army offered Ted a 60 day leave with pay and a bonus so he did re enlist. While he had leave we left Carol in Detroit with grandma, Aunt June and Aunt Hildegard and traveled with Janice to see all of Ted’s family and my family. We borrowed dad’s “Old Lizzie” (his older Ford) for the trip. We then settled into very frequent moves with the Army.


March 1946

We moved to Carthage, Mo near Camp Crowder.  Carthage had a lovely town square where I could walk with the girls. There were nice long areas without curbs so she wouldn’t fall as she toddled.  Carol was just starting to walk at age 15 months.  At birth her feet were turned sideways due to her position in-utero. Thankfully the pediatrician was very conservative and tried having us put her shoes on the wrong feet for quite awhile and then putting her in orthopedic shoes instead of doing surgery. Even though she didn’t walk early, once she started she was the fastest mover in the family. Since we didn’t have a car, walking was our only means of transportation.


May 1946

We moved to Leesville, Louisiana near Camp Polk. Mom and Dad drove with us down to Leesville. They drove their new Ford and we drove the old Lizzie Ford which they gave to us for transportation. On the trip Janice rode with them and Carol rode with Ted and I. As we traveled Dad accidentally drove off the side of the road down a gully. They were behind us so we didn’t even know it had happened until someone stopped us down the road. No one was hurt and the car was fine but Mom was pretty shaken up. Once we got to Louisiana we found VERY hot summer weather.  Ted’s solution was to make the girls a “swimming pool”. He took canvas and hooked it to the porch on one side and poles on the other. He then filled it with water for them to play. They really had fun staying cool.  Ted usually had to use the car for driving to work so I was still without transportation. We had wonderful neighbors, the Tatmans, who helped me out a lot. They had a grandson the age of the girls and loved to play with Janice and Carol. They also helped by picking up groceries if needed.


September 1946

Ted transferred to Ft. Dix, NJ and the girls and I went to live with mom and dad in Detroit. There was no housing at Ft. Dix. Within a couple of weeks we moved to a tourist cabin in Brown’s Mill’s, NJ to be with Ted. Our entertainment then was only going to an occasional dance where there was a jukebox. The big song then was “Heart Aches”. Ted was still working with WACS and they would come over and baby sit with the girls.



October 1946

We moved to a motel near the Boston Army base for two weeks and then to McLaren apartments in Ayer Massachusetts. While staying at the motel I was feeling very sick. A neighbor nurse checked on me and got a base Dr. to come out to see me. He diagnosed me with pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics. She took care of the girls while I recovered. Ted had to be gone long hours for military duty. Ayer was 40 miles from Boston so he had a long drive to and from work every day. If the girls and I needed to go to town we had to take the subway. I needed harnesses for the girls because the subways were very crowded and one or the other of them (usually Carol) would invariably run off if I didn’t watch them every second. I sure got some strange looks but at least I knew they were safe that way.


October 1947

After finally living one year in one place, we again had to move. There was a fire at the McLaren apartments. Carol was less than three by this time but she still remembers the night of the fire and being wrapped in blankets at a neighboring home. Thankfully none of us were hurt but some of our possessions were damaged. We were happy to move to a housing project where we had our first two bedroom apartment.  Ted took his Army discharge from Boston with hopes that he could re enlist in Michigan and be stationed closer to the folks.


May 1948


We moved to Detroit with mom and dad again while Ted re-enlisted.  Thankfully he did get assigned to Jackson, Michigan. There was no housing available so the girls and I temporarily stayed in Detroit. During our frequent moves I did not work as a nurse but cared for Janice and Carol.


September 1948

Janice started kindergarten at Ford School in Highland Park, MI.


February 1949

We were all finally settled in Jackson, MI with Ted working for the Army with National Guard and Reserves there. It was good because we could be close to mom and dad who were only about 75 miles away in Detroit. We lived in a rental house.



August 1949

When our rental house sold we moved into another rental home on East Prospect Avenue in Jackson. It was a nice home.


September 1950

Carol started kindergarten. The house on Prospect was sold so we had to move again.


November 1950

We rented a house at 240 E. Addison and when that house went up for sale, we bought it. Finally, our first home. In order to keep my license current I decided to work one night a week. I worked General Duty at Foote Hospital. I didn’t work too many months because I became pregnant again.


June 8, 1952

 Charles was born at Foote Hospital in Jackson, MI.


August 15, 1952

We felt so blessed to have stayed in one place for 4 ½ years! We knew it couldn’t last forever. When Charley was only two months old, Ted had to relocate to Anchorage Alaska. They said he could not bring his family. We all packed up and moved to Grand Junction, CO. Aunt Marce and Uncle Bob, Uncle Frank and Uncle Sam already lived there and we wanted to be near family. So mom and dad and our whole family moved out west.  We shared a home with mom and dad until we each found one to buy.


September 1952

Mom and Dad bought a house at 1347 Orchard Ave and we bought a house at 301 Orchard Ave.  Janice and Carol started school in Grand Junction. Soon after we bought our houses the Army said we could come to Alaska. We just had to wait until Charley was 6 months old before we could travel to Alaska.



Cousins – Janice, Gordon and Carol


Charley  outside our house at 301 Orchard Ave.


December 1952

We rented our home and left Grandma and Grandpa in Grand Junction and flew north to Alaska. While we were gone Ted’s family cared for my parents just like they were theirs.  Janice and Carol started school again in Alaska. There was no military school building. The girls started school again at the Army base. They went to classes in metal Quonset Huts that were heated with wood stoves. The second year of school they built a real school that even had central heat. The only draw back with that was that during moose mating season the kids couldn’t go out on the playground because the male moose would attack the kids. The girls also rode the bus to and from school in the dark because of the long dark days of fall through spring. Every week they rode a bus to the base theater where the Army “Brats” were treated to a movie and popcorn. Charley learned to walk and talk while we lived there. I didn’t work as a nurse in Alaska. It was not one of the United States at that time and would have been nearly impossible for me to get work as an RN and I was very busy with family. We waited for six months for our furniture to arrive from the states! Until then our furniture consisted of army cots as beds and another cot as a couch and a kitchen table set and one set of pans. We thought we were living it up when we bought one comfortable chair for the living room. Everyone wanted to sit in it. After Charley went to bed each night, I read to the girls while they each sat on an overstuffed chair arm. While we lived there we experience the eruption of three volcanoes. On July 9, 1953 Mt. Spur, Mt. Torbet and a third unidentified mountain in the Alaska Range 80 miles west of Anchorage erupted. A huge volcanic cloud covered all of Anchorage and our quarters in Ft Richardson. It was pitch black during the middle of the day. Ash filtered even into closed doors and windows. We saved containers of the ash to show our family back in the states. Once we decided to take a drive to Fairbanks through the mountains and ended up driving in a terrifying sudden snow storm. We never took a trip to the mountains again! We also watched dog sled races down the dirt streets of  Anchorage during the winter carnival. Unbelievably there was a shortage of snowfall that winter and they had to truck in snow for the event. Some of the sleds were pulled by beautiful white huskies. Anchorage was far from being a metropolitan city at that time! Ted did lots of fishing while we were there and sometimes the kids and I went along. The water was freezing cold but the kids loved the adventure.


July 26, 1954

We took a bus at Anchorage to the train at Whittier. We left Whittier, Alaska on the U.S.S. Freeman – a naval vessel and arrived in Seattle, WA many days later. The girls loved the freedom they had to roam the naval ship. The cooks would give them left over fruit to throw to the jelly fish. They also saw whales blowing in the distance and miles and miles of water. Charley loved to run in and out of the doors and we all had our hands full keeping an eye on him. Quite an adventure for a 10 yr old, a 9 yr old and a 2 year old.  The ship was more like a cruise ship than a naval vessel. We had wonderful meals with even a choice of menu. Ted drove to Portland to pick up the car he had purchased. The kids and I remained in Seattle at a hotel. When he came back with the car I thought it was  beautiful. It was two tone blue and cream car. It was the first car we had owned that wasn’t black. We drove to Grand Junction, Colorado in style! Ted was called to FT. Leonard Wood, MO. for temporary duty and we stayed with mom & dad again while waiting for a new assignment.



Our blue and cream Ford


September 1954

Janice and Carol started 2nd and 4th grades in Grand Junction. It was so good to be with family again. Dad had a beautiful flower and vegetable garden and we all kept busy preparing and eating the produce. He grew every kind of vegetable imaginable so the kids would learn about how things grew. He even planted peanuts and pop corn so they could experience growing it and then eating it as a snack.  He sat on his little ladder every evening to water his yard and watched his grandkids play. That ladder sure brought back memories for me.  Mom had taken cake decorating classes while we were away in Alaska and the girls enjoyed seeing her make special flower etc. She used to mail us decorated cakes all the way to Alaska when we lived there.


January 1, 1955

Ted started his new Army assignment as an Army advisor for the Wyoming National Guard and Reserves. There was no housing available in Cheyenne so the kids and I remained in Grand Junction with mom and dad.



At Marce & Bob’s for Rowley Reunion. Cousins Carol, Janice, Gordon, Karen, and Aunt Alice Sawyer


March 1955


The kids and I packed up again and moved to Cheyenne. We rented a home at 3106 Snyder in Cheyenne. Mom and dad stayed in Grand Junction with Ted’s family. The girls started in new schools once again. There was not room in the same elementary school for them to be in the same school so they went to two different schools.


Summer 1955

The girls had joined Girl Scouts and when there was the need for a camp nurse I decided to put my nursing skills back to work. I had been the camp nurse in Frankfort, MI for my church camp when I was about 23 years old and had enjoyed the experience. They were glad to make arrangement for Charley to be at camp too which was quite an experience for a three year old. The girls were also allowed to attend camp for free since I was the nurse. We all had a wonderful two weeks in the foothills west of Cheyenne at Hynd’s Lodge. Most of campers needing my assistance had ticks to remove and a few had scout knife cuts. We all enjoyed it so much that we repeated the experience in 1956. After that we did two years of day camp with only one overnight. The breakfast our very last morning at scout camp is one I will never forget. The famous Cheyenne wind had kicked up and made all of our pancakes very sandy. Ha!


After helping at the scout camp in 1955 the nursing “bug” bit me again and I started at DePaul Hospital in Cheyenne. I worked 3-11 Sunday evenings when Ted was home with the kids. I really enjoyed it and worked either the medical or surgical floor.



We purchased our home at 3121 Snyder. I started two evenings a week so we could finish up the basement apartment and rent it. Dad and mom moved from Grand Junction about this time. They bought a country house at 110 3rd Ave in Orchard Valley right outside of Cheyenne. The kids had a great experience watching Grandpa raise rabbits and chickens and grow a great garden. He again spent each evening sitting on his short ladder watering his garden. They helped grandma with housework and went to church functions with her. Dad also helped Ted with the renovation of our basement apartment and making the garage at 3121 into a bedroom for the girls.


The front porch of our house at 3121 Snyder



Dad and Mom



September 1957

Janice and Carol were in Jr High. Charley started grade school. 



We purchased our home at 3241 Acacia Drive in Cheyenne. That meant that Carol and Charles had to switch schools again. Carol started 9th grade in a new Jr High. .  It was a trying year as she adjusted to all of the changes in schools. Janice continued in High School at Central High.


The dining room at 3241 Acacia


Christmas 1961


Uncle Charley – my mother’s brother on a visit to Cheyenne



Janice and Carol were attending high school on split sessions. They were building East High but it wasn’t ready for occupancy yet. They both attended school early in the day and worked in the afternoons and evening.  Janice graduated in June and headed for Colorado State University for a major in Medical Technology. 




Ted had a massive heart attack. Life changed as we adjusted to how short life could be. He finally stopped smoking cold turkey. He substituted wintergreen lifesavers for his cigarette habit. We all liked that smell so much better than the smoke! Unknown to us at this time his smoking had taken even a worse toll on his lungs than his heart.




There were big changes in our family. Janice had been away at CSU in Med Tech for two years and she and Carol now both started nurses training in August. Charles was 11 years old and busy with school. I continued to work at DePaul and also started working ½ week at Dr. Joder’s office. I shared the job with various other nurses. The carry over of each job to the other made for the “best ever” job. Dr. Joder was a rare and even tempered gentleman who never spoke a cross word. Mom and dad moved from Orchard Valley to be closer to us. They bought a home right down the street from us at 3151 Acacia Dr in Cheyenne.




Janice and Carol both graduated from nurses training. Janice graduated from St Luke’s in Denver and began her nursing career in Hastings, NE. She went there to help Carol prepare for her wedding. Carol graduated from Mary Lanning in Hastings and then after her marriage to Jim began her nursing career in Denver while Jim worked for BF Goodrich.  Charley was growing so big and was in his teen years. Quite a change for us all.


May 1967

Carol and Jim presented us with our first grandchild, Scott. He lived a short five days due to a congenital heart defect. We were broken hearted. Mom and Dad never even got to see him. Carol and Jim had planned to bring him to Cheyenne for the weekend. By then he was gone.


Our back yard at 3121 Acacia. Charley with Jim, Carol and me. Carol is pregnant with Scott.



August 1967

Janice and Gary Mousel were married in Hastings, NE. They began their married life in Omaha where Gary worked for Mutual of Omaha.


May 17, 1968

Mom went home to be with her Lord. The past year had been tough with her having problems and dad falling occasionally. I spent time at their home daily and Charley frequently would go down to check on them. The time finally came when we had to admit mom to a nursing home for her own well being. It was a difficult but necessary decision. She had fallen and could never walk alone again.


June 6, 1968

Janice and Gary presented us with our second grandchild, Douglas. I was so glad to be there to help Janice with him for a short time.



Doug as High School Senior


July 1968

We sold our home at 3241Acacia Dr and moved in with dad at 3251 Acacia Dr. His health was also failing and by December he died as well.


September 1970

Charley graduated in June and headed for Montana State University. He headed for Ohio for the summer after school to live with Jim and Carol for three months and work for BF Goodrich. He  then went back to Montana State in Bozeman in the fall.


December 10, 1970

Janice and Gary presented us with out third grandchild, Lynn Marie. I loved helping out a short time after her birth. Her big brother adored her!



Lynn as High School Senior


August 6, 1971

Carol and Jim presented us with our fourth grandchild, Paul. What a blessing. I went to Toledo, OH to spend time with them. It was wonderful being a grandparent again!


Paul as High School Senior


 Fall 1971

It was pretty quiet around our home. Charley was still away at college after spending the summer with Jim and Carol in Ohio. I was approached by Mayetta Johnson, nursing director, at DePaul. She asked me to take the position of relief supervisor for the 3-11 shift of the whole hospital on the two nights I worked. I didn’t feel qualified since I’d never had much training in IV’s or ER. So many more procedures were done by doctors rather than nurses when I trained. She insisted I was capable of doing the job and said, “You know where the experts are, don’t you?” Of course I did, after 17 years there. So for two years I worked as relief supervisor and didn’t have any unsolvable problems.


May 18, 1972

Janice and Gary presented us with grandchild five, Jill Marie. She lived a short eight months before suddenly dying of meningitis on January 24, 1973. What a shock for all of us. It seemed just “impossible” that we could loose still another precious grandchild!


October 15, 1972

Charley married Diane Schnell in Belgrade, Montana. They eventually opened Rising Sun Leather Company in Bozeman where they resided until 1985.


Retirement Years


August 7, 1973

This year brought Ted’s 60th birthday we both retired and began 15 years of winters in Arizona and summers in Cheyenne.


August 17, 1973

Carol and Jim presented us with grandchild six, John Edward. He was born in Medina Ohio where they now resided. Ted and I both traveled to see the grand babies this trip. It was wonderful. We rented our home to our friends the Whitakers and headed out in our motor home.


John as High School Senior



We bought a mobile home at Pacific Mobile Manor #48 in Apache Junction, AZ. That was our winter residence until 1988. Ted felt at home right away playing golf and playing cards. Retirement? Of course not for a nurse. My first winter of retirement didn’t satisfy my need to accomplish something worthwhile, so about a month after we got settled in Arizona I started working two evenings a week at Scottsdale Community Hospital on McKelleps Rd. It was a 30 bed osteopathic Hospital and not really too organized. I worked 5 months there and continued working 2-3 months every summer at DePaul through 1976. Our second winter in Arizona I got busy as entertainment chairman I had a great time. Marce and Bob owned a mobile right down the street from us and that was so enjoyable. We also had many Cheyenne friends there at the same mobile court.



We bought a mobile home in Cheyenne at Colonial Mobile Park for a summer residence and continued to rent our home.



We sold our mobile home and moved back to our house in Cheyenne for the summer to repair damage done by renters.


1978 August

We sold our house in Cheyenne and moved to a Marlette mobile home at Sunnyside Villa #26, 3901 Ridge Rd, Cheyenne as a summer residence. We retained that as our summer residence until 1987 when Ted’s lung condition did not allow us to live in such a high altitude.


January 17, 1981

Charley and Diane presented us with grandchild seven – Jessica Starr born in Bozeman. I went up to help and Diane said, “just hold her all you want. What an invitation!! I hardly put her down at all.



Jessica as High School Senior


September 11, 1985

Charley and Diane presented us with grandchild eight – Madison born in Portland, OR. He was always the quiet one in the family. Mainly just listened while Jessica talked nearly “full time”.



Madison as High School Senior


1987 August

We purchased our golden west mobile home and resided at Quail Hollow Mobile Home Community 21100 N.E. Sandy Blvd. #37, Portland, OR. It was our first double wide mobile. It was such a good climate for Ted and so good to be with family.  What fun it was to be around our younger grandchildren as they grew. We missed that with our older ones because of work commitments.


April 22, 1988

Charley and Diane presented us with grandchild nine – Hannah Jean. Ted and I were both there when she was born. How amazing that was for both of us. Ted was so thrilled. What a joy she has been. The only grandchild we could be around for her whole life.


Hannah as High School Senior


October 1988

Ted’s health was getting much worse. Carol took leave from work and came to Arizona to help get him settled for a transfer to Oregon. She also helped with settling the mobile sale. I flew to Portland with Ted.  Charley and Diane helped settled him in a nursing home close to their home. I flew back to Arizona to close the mobile and Janice came and drove with me up to Oregon with our belongings. We had a beautiful drive up the Pacific Coast on our way to Oregon. Janice felt I needed a beautiful slow relaxing trip and I certainly did!


1989 April

Ted died in Portland from COPD. He also had some signs of Alzheimers.  He was comfortable and I was surrounded by family. My niece Bev Bruton and her husband, Charles, were visiting at the time. It seemed like God was giving me all the support I needed. It was a relief to see his suffering over. I continued to live in the mobile park in Portland year round and traveled to visit family. It was a hard adjustment.  His sister, Marce, and my best friend from high school had died in 1986  with Alzheimer’s and a heart attack.


1989 November

We received shocking news that Janice had colon cancer. I went there to care for her after her surgery. 


March 6, 1990

Janice died from her colon cancer. We were all in a state of shock and sorrow. It was a horrible year for all of us. Carol was in Omaha to care for the last 2 weeks of her life. Lynn was in her first year of college and Doug was graduating from college. Gary and the kids showed courage to continue on without her.




I dropped my nursing license registration when I was 75 years old. The fee that year went from $20 to $50 and I decided that was too much to pay for pride. Besides I could still help others by taking blood pressures for neighbors. It was easy to stay in touch with nursing though and I volunteered at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital in Portland for many years. I took baby pictures of the newborns until 2005 when my “job” was replaced by electronic equipment changes. It was sure fun to be around the mom’s and babies.

January 1994

I was called by Bob’s children and granddaughter asking me to go to Arizona to care for their dad/granddad. Bob was suffering with pneumonia after the recent loss of his second wife, Audrey. I really hesitated to go because of concern of what the neighbors would think. Carol, Charley and friends all encouraged me to go. During that visit we both realized that we wanted to marry and enjoy our remaining years together. Quite a surprise from what I went there for in the first place. Both of our families where very pleased.


May 1, 1994

Bob and I were married in Gresham, OR with Charley and his family and Carol present.  We lived in Arizona during the next two winters and in Portland during the summers and traveled often to visit all of our children. Between his four kids and their families and mine we were traveling often! It seemed someone was always having a wedding, new baby or graduation. We enjoyed dancing and traveling as a couple so very much.



4 years after our wedding.



Bob sold his mobile in Arizona and we resided in Portland year round. We decided it was enough traveling to just keep up with all of our children and grandchildren and it was such fun! Between us we had 21 grandchildren and oodles of new babies just kept coming – they still are!



We were all shocked with the news that Bob had myelodysplasia. We had been on a trip and tired so easily. Upon return we went to the doctor and after the confirming tests our lives changed drastically. It revolved around weekly blood transfusions and hospital visits. We were still stung by the recent early death of his daughter Kris from cancer and now this. It was all so very hard to accept. We added on to Charley and Diane’s home with a wonderful handicapped accessible apartment. We sold our mobile home and moved to Charley’s with the help of Carol, Charley and Diane. At least we had five most wonderful years together before he died in April 2002.



Since Bob’s death I have continued to remain active. Being busy helped me heal from the pain of loss. I have kept busy by taking baby pictures of newborn babies at Kaiser Hospital, being active in my church, playing cribbage at the Sr. Center and of course traveling to visit family. I met a new friend, Loretta, at the Sr. Center who is also a retired nurse. She has become a very close and congenial friend. We do a lot of things together in church activities and otherwise.



Holding the hats I crocheted for the homeless. I made 48 hats in 2005. Our church group gives them to homeless children each Christmas season.


It has been so good to be near family. I am always welcomed at the grandchildren’s programs and activities as well as Charley and Diane’s. Each summer I have traveled to see as much of Bob’s family and my family as possible. I also usually spend May with Carol in Ohio. In September I fell and broke my hip, so I have slowed down a little. I’ve been blessed with help from family, friends and my church. Carol is with me now caring for me and helping me write this memory book. I plan to get strong again and resume my travels again by spring. I look forward to spending more time with my grandchildren and great grandchildren in 2006 and beyond.


Notes added August 2008 by Carol


Mom did eventually recover from her fractured hip but then had a setback when her hip repair broke.  She never was able to resume her travels to see grandchildren as she had hoped but she continued to stay in touch with them by phone calls. She also loved the many visits from grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. January 2007 she moved into an apartment at Courtyard Plaza just a short distance from Charley and Diane’s home. She remained very active there and had several special friends who made her last couple of years very memorable. She also remained active with Tabor Heights United Methodist Church where she helped begin a ministry for seniors as well as crocheted hats for the homeless.


February 2007


Mom was diagnosed with a pericardial sarcoma (cancer of the surrounding of her heart). As always she faced the challenge bravely and with grace. She told me often that The Lord would see her through and she really lived with hope for the future even if that future was short. The physicians seemed quite surprised when she informed them that all she wanted was to celebrate her 90th birthday and then she was ready to meet her family in heaven. I flew back and forth from Ohio as needed and we arranged for Hospice so that all of us could have the support we needed as Mom’s illness progressed.


June 13, 2007


We celebrated with Mom at a beach in Oregon and it was wonderful. She even danced a few steps of the Charleston for us while holding onto her walker. Other than tiring easily she didn’t look sick and had no symptoms. She asked me to write down how her memorial service was to be done and she picked all of the scripture and the songs and I created the folder cover. 


June 13, 2008


She surprised everyone and celebrated her 91st birthday too! This time she wanted just a quiet day. Her cancer had progressed enough that she was quite tired. Charley, Diane, grandson Madison and I had dinner with her. She enjoyed phone calls and cards from so many people that day. The year had been filled with family visits and Mom treasured each visit. I gave her a stone with the word DANCE on it. She was looking forward to dancing in heaven and said that often.



July 2008


Mom’s last week was a busy one even though she slept a lot and began to experience some pain in her back and chest. We had dinner at Charley and Diane’s, went for car rides. She participated in activities at The Courtyard.  She talked to all of her grandchildren and she called the two step grandchildren who had birthdays. She even danced a few steps to In the Mood with Charley and me. On Sunday July 27 she prayed with me that God would give her the strength to die gracefully and that she would go quickly. He honored those prayers. By Monday afternoon she began to peacefully fade away with Charley, Diane, Madison and me with her. We played soft music, massaged her hands and feet, laughed, cried and said goodbye before she went into a deep sleep. Tuesday morning at 10:58 am she quietly breathed her last breath. 


August 6, 2008


We celebrated the Life of Helen Rowley Parent at Tabor Heights United Methodist Church.  She has touched all of our lives by her strength and her ability to overcome sadness with her trust that she could live each day because of her faith. At her request we sang Because He Lives at her Memorial Service.


It has been a blessing to me to be able to write up this story as Mom dictated it or handed me notes. I know it will be a treasure forever for all of our family.