Do you remember: John and Gertie Earnest

By Richard Karns

Special to the Herald Review

In talking with Norm and Floss Earnest, the following information was given to me for this article, starting with Norm's grandparents.

Joseph and Susie Earnest came to Canada from Germany and ultimately settled in Michigan. They settled in Richmond Township where they raised their children Ester, Fred, John, Lillian and Luella.

John Earnest married Gertrude Hoffmeyer of Evart in November of 1916. They had three children, Clifford (Kip), Dorothy and Norman. Both John and Gertrude (Gertie) were active and worked hard making a living for themselves and their children. John worked for the Kopper Tie Plant on the northeast side of Reed City. He worked for them until they moved to Richmond, Va. John started working for Adamys' Flooring Mill.

Norm remembers in 1932-34 his father coming home telling his family he received a nickel raise and was now making 60 cents per hour. Norm was about 6 at the time and felt this was a good time to ask his father that if he could hold his breath for a minute if he could have a penny. There was a time a penny could go a lot further than it does today. Do any of you remember when you could buy two pieces of candy for a penny?

When the flooring mill burned, John decided to start a business of his own repairing radiators in the garage behind his home on Todd Avenue. After John retired, his grandson Gary Earnest took over the business.

Gertrude was a stay-at-home mom, but did raise canaries, and was a midwife in the area delivering babies and providing other medical treatment when called upon by Dr. Miller and Dr. P.B. Kilmer to help in the practice. Gertie was very active in both her family and the community. She, along with other women of Reed City (my mother included), started the Rebecca Lodge in Reed City. Gertie was an avid deer hunter and there was an article about her at age 89 getting a deer. John and Gertie were the grand marshalls for the Reed City Centennial in 1975.

Norm recalled growing up that it was part of the boys' job to collect and split old railroad ties that would be used for fuel to heat the house, but said you needed to be really careful because of the creosote. He recalled as a young boy he would pick green beans and scruff weeds and clean up the yard at Koppers. Norm said his parents always wanted the kids to go to church, and the one that went most would get a prize. Norm only missed twice, so he won the prize of an umbrella. His mother told him the umbrella was so he wouldn't miss church because of the rain.

Norm remembers growing up during The Depression wasn't easy for the family and they had a lot of boiled dinners and Johnnie cake. To this day, he doesn't care for boiled dinners.

All of the Earnest children graduated from Reed City High School. After graduation, Norm joined the Navy during World War II and saw action in both the European and Pacific areas.

Florence (Floss) Trombley was from Hart and lived with Leonard and Grace Carlson. When they moved to Reed City, she came with them and started working at Koppers Tie Plant where she met norm. They were married in 1948 and had two children, Greg and Gary.

Floss worked in the A&P Grocery Store in Reed City, at the courthouse and at the Ferris State University Bookstore where she retired.

Norm's brother, Clifford, married Kathleen Stanton and had children Kay, Jolene and Pat. He was very active in hunting, but his passion was pitching horseshoes along with his friends, Orlin Knuth, Ben Roggow and Arniw Remus. Clifford was named the horseshoe pitching champion of west central Michigan at one time.

Norm's sister, Dorothy, married Kathleen's brother, Delbert, and had children Darryl, Marilyn and Milton. Dorothy was an LPN at Reed City Hospital and I worked with her for many years there. Darryl's son, Doug Stanton, lives in Traverse City and has authored two books, "In Harm's Way" and "The Horse Soldiers."

It was a pleasure talking with Norm and Floss. They were very gracious in sharing their life with me, telling of times growing up in Reed City, their family, and some of the connections they had with my older siblings.