Friday, October 26, 2007

Marcella Armstrong's Journal, Installment 6

Richard Dennis Armstrong

I now want to talk about your father. He was an Iowa boy, born in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on September 22, 1905. His mother was Dora Bagley Armstrong, who had been a teacher of Latin at Missouri Valley. She graduated from Grinnel College. His father, Dennis Eugene Armstrong, was a mail clerk in the Rock Island Railroad, which ran between Omaha and Des Moines.

Richard's two sisters are: Ruth Emeline and Ella Grace. Rugh was born on April 10, 1903; Ella Grace, May 25, 1910.

The family lived in Omaha, Nebraska, and in Des Moines. Richard was in Omaha High School until his junior year -- when they moved to Granger, Iowa. His senior class was composed of one girl and five boys.

Dick went on to Des Moines University while he lived on the farm at Granger. He went to college on the interurban (street car), leaving early in the morning after milking cows and carrying cans to the station. He majored in Chemistry. He graduated from Des Moines University.

Then he entered graduate school at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He earned a Master's degree in Organic Chemistry [in black ink: Biochemistry?] He was studying toward a doctorate when Howard Johns came to Iowa State looking for a chemist to work at the Welch Grape Juice Company at Westfield, New York. He interviewed several and chose Richard.

So Dick arrived in Westfield, by bus, one very cold February morning in 1932. Nothing was open but a diner.

He found a room in the Y.M.C.A. and lived there until September 1933. He started work at the Welch laboratory in Quality Control. There were only two chemists, Harry King and Dick. Now there are many, with a whole floor devoted to research, quality control and new products. It is now Welch Foods, Inc.

I met Dick when I was home for a weekend from Jamestown. Clara knew him and invited him to a party at Healy Hall. it was a brickh ouse across from the Westfield school. Mrs. Healy was opening a tea room. Clara asked Richard to bring Verna Dodge. But the next party was different. He asked me -- and from that time on "I was his girl." He proposed marriage _after he called on Mother and Father_. We were married on September 2, 1933 in St. Peter's Episcopal Church. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding.

The attendants were:

Maid of honor (in pink) - Clara Clarke
Matron of honor (in yellow) - Dorothy Miller Stone (my cousin from Rochester, New York)
Bridesmaids (in blue) - Genevieve Waterman, Caroline Anderson, Verna Dodge, Gertrude Fuller
Best Man - Howard Johns
Ushers - Harry J. King, Charles Welch, S.C. Weir (Y.M.C.A. secretary), Allen Fripp, Charles Miller (now a doctor in Rochester), Melvin Bemis
Organist - William Welch
Rector - Rev. Dimmick Baldy

My gown was white satin with long sleeves. The veil had a small cap which fit over part of my hair. The bouquet was beautiful. The attendants gave me six sterling silver salad forks to match the Louis XIV silver pattern which I had chosen. Mother and Father gave us one half dozen forks and one half dozen knives. Dick's mother and father gave us the same.

There had been many showers by friends: Edith Thompson, Ruth Horning, Verna Dodge, Gertrude Fuller and Frances Barhite, Genevieve Waterman, Marie Bemis and a supper at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry King. And on September 9th, a shower by Agnes and Sholer [sp?] Weir (Y.M.C.A. secretary).

Our first home was on Elm Street, a furnished house. We bought furniture and moved to a house on Cottage Street -- around the corner from Mother and Father's house. Our daughter Joan was born on August 25, 1934 at Jamestown hospital.

We moved quite a few times in Westfield. We next lived in a large brick house on the corner of Union and First Streets. Susan Clarke Armstrong was born January 24, 1937. Then we moved to Howard Johns' former home on upper Elm Street. After that -- to the house on Academy Street next door to Mother and Father. Joan was in school by that time.

Finally we decided to buy a house, the Eddy house on Union Street across from the Baptist Church. Dick took off the glass enclosure on the front porch and painted the house white. It improved it so much.

At that time the _Welch Co. transferred Dick to Lawton, Michigan_. We left Westfield by train on Joan's 12th birthday -- 1946. We lived in a large grey house in that small town 15 miles from Kalamazoo and a mile from Paw Paw. The school was inferior but we found that there were very fine people. The Hardys next door were so friendly. Lillian took me to Kalamazoo often. She sould knockon the back door and say "Here comes temptation!" Then she would invite me to go shopping.

The Hardys loved our Cocker Spaniel, Brownie, about as much as they loved their own dog, Inky. They would go out to eat late at night and would bring back hamburgers for both dogs. Lillian had a beautiful voice and sang in the Methodist Church choir. There were only two churches -- Methodist and Baptist.

I had a large Girl Scout troop. During the meetings there would be a badge group in every room downstairs, including the kitchen pantry.

Dick was gone so much -- back to Westfield, to Arkansas or California.

It was August 1948 that he flew back from California with the news that we were to move again -- this time to California! We didn't have time to pack our furniture but left it to the movers. We left by car for the West.

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