Do you remember: David and Mary Rolston

To get the information for this article, I talked with Jo Blanchard and Roberta (Bert) McInnis, who are the daughters of David and Mary Rolston.

Their grandparents, Frank and Elizabeth Rolston, started their lives in the area of Paris. They worked hard on their farm to be as self-sufficient as possible, raising the livestock and chickens on their farm and having large gardens. They had three children: Dutch, Elizabeth and David. Elizabeth died young as a teenager.

Jo Blanchard's full name is Jo Ellen, but everyone calls her Jo. She remembers as a young girl she would go by her grandparent's place on her way home from the Davenport School because her grandma always made sure there was a treat ready.

Frank and Elizabeth's son, David, stayed on the farm helping his father with the farm work. When he married Mary Huffman from Boyne City in May of 1921, they moved into a small house on the farm. They had eight children: Richard, Lawrence, Dale, Keith, Jo Ellen, Jack, Leonard and Roberta. They worked hard raising a family, and not only did Davis work on the farm, but also did odd jobs as well as subsidies for the needs of the farm. They were a hard-working family and everyone did their part.

When Jo was old enough, she worked in the house with her mother. Their mother worked tirelessly at a job that never seemed to be complete. Their parents committed themselves to ensure the family had what they needed and their mother would make special treats for them. She would make popcorn, and on special occasions — and always on Christmas — they had homemade ice cream. Their mother insisted all the children go to church, and when summer came, attend the two-week summer Bible School.

Mary was used to cooking large meals, and on Sundays she still did and wanted all of the children to eat Sunday dinner at the farm. Both Jo and Bert said of their mother: she worked herself to death. Jo said she was glad she was able to lighten the load for her. They remembered their father was a pitcher on a ball team and they all enjoyed playing ball and sledding in the wintertime.

Bert said one day she was playing with a tin can and left it on the floor when Jo was mopping. Jo backed out of the room and stepped on it. "I still have the scar," she said.

They both remember picking green beans and potatoes in the summertime to help buy school clothes. I think many of us remember that too. Bert said she didn't like picking pickles because she didn't like the feel of the vines against her skin — they had to be just so big and so many to a bag. Jo laughed and said she never picked them.

Jo was working in the house with her mother when the older boys were gone, and Bert was old enough to work outside on the farm along with their father and brothers. She told me she liked milking the cows and the cats always seemed to know when it was milking time. She would try to squirt milk directly from the cow into the cats' mouths. Bert told me she didn't mind the outside work but hated to pick up rocks from the field. Both agreed they were poor growing up, but were rich in love.

When their mother died on June 17, 1954, she was only in her 50s and Bert was 15 at the time. The photo included in this article was taken on the last Christmas she was with them. The testimony to her life was the outpouring of sympathy. The funeral procession was a mile long and neighbors brought in a lot of food for the luncheon and for afterwards. David, in his later years until his death, lived with Lawrence and his wife, Ruby.

Jo married Harold Blanchard on Jan. 6, 1951. She was working for Mr. Starr and his five-and-dime store in Reed City. She first thought Mr. Starr to be a little scary, but as she got to know him, her opinion changed. On her and Harold's wedding day, his gift for her was to let them live in his apartment above the store while he went to Florida for the winter. This allowed her and Harold (known also as Hereby) to make plans to build their own home. They were given some land in Chase by Harold's family and lived with his parents until  they had a basement ready to move into.

Their daughter, Karen, was born in their basement house. Terry was born after the house was complete. Harold and Jo lived in that house until Harold's death in December of 2012. Jo now lived in Reed City at Meadow View.

After graduation, Roberta (Bert) worked at several jobs, including the Nestle Inn before she was married to Bob McInnis on Nov. 25, 1961, and after their children were born. They have four children: Mary, Robert, Jeff and Beth. They started married life living in Standish where Bob was working, but wished to move back to Reed City and lived in several places. In 1976, Bob, Roberta and their family moved into the house Bob was raised in on North Park Street, where they still live today. Bert retired from Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital after 17 years working in the dietary department.

Talking with Jo and Bert was interesting. They have different memories of living in the same family because of the position of their birth. What they do agree on, however, is the impact their mother had on their lives.