Marguerite was born at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh on March 1, 1931 when her family lived in the suburb of Allison Park. They later moved to Baltimore, Maryland where she started Kindergarten. Later they moved to Dormont and then to Mt. Lebanon where she attended 5th, 6th and 7th grades. In between the moves, the family sometimes moved to the Stevenson farm in Waddle, a village a few miles outside of State College.
When her Dad went into the service in World War II, Margeet's family moved to 727 W. College Ave. in State College, and was enrolled at the State College High School through graduation in 1948. Frank Stevenson moved from the Waddle farm to the Stevenson house. After Margeet’s Dad returned from the service, her parents returned to Mt. Lebanon and allowed Bob, Tish and Margeet to stay at the Stevensons to finish high school. It was at the Stevensons residence that I first met her when I roomed there in 1945, attending Penn State under the GI Bill of Rights.
After her high school graduation, she attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon U.) for a year, and then her family moved to Newark, N.J., where she enrolled and graduated from a secretarial school. She was hired as a secretary at the Penn State Admissions Office where she worked for three years before our marriage. Margeet found several of her old paystubs from there, and in 1953, she earned $185.00/month with a take-home pay of $145.00.
During our marriage, when we moved nine times in our first eleven years, Margeet never complained about the constant up-rooting of her life. She said it seemed normal when she recalled the many moves in her family: Allison Park (Pittsburgh), Baltimore, Waddle Farm, Florida, Dormont and Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh), State College, Newark, N.J., Stevensons in State College, An Apartment with Tish and Ted in two locations, an apartment with a co-worker in State College, and the move to Charleroi after marriage.
Just as my Mother was the heart and center of my childhood family, Margeet was the heart and soul of our family together. She always treated all of our children equally, listened to them when they wanted to share, and counseled them wisely when they asked for her advice or opinion. She was the one they ran to for comfort when they suffered some bump or bruise, and with her ample supply of band-aids and medications, soon had them convinced that her “magic potions” had made everything right.
She read them stories every night when they were very young, and was always ready to listen to their reading of a favorite book when a little older. On trips, she taught them the age-old favorite songs that children learn.
When Dave was about five, she made Halloween costumes for us, an apple for me and a worm for Dave which we wore in the Monongahela parade. She used hula hoops to give me a rotund shape and sewed a black patch on it for the worm hole. We won a prize of ten dollars which was in the form of a check, and Dave was very sad because it wasn’t real money to him.
Shortly after all of our children were all away in college, we had an automatic dishwasher installed. When they found out, there was loud moaning and groaning from Karen and BJ. They couldn’t understand why we couldn’t have installed it earlier when they were at home and taking turns helping their mother with the dishes each evening.
In their teenage years, kids have a tendency to retire to their rooms for homework study and music, and spend very little time with their family. With them alternating drying dishes, it was an opportunity to get them to spend some quality time alone with their mother when they could talk in a relaxed setting. Margeet was a very wise mother.
The only dog we had at South Bend was a Heinz variety the kids named Laddie. At night he took turns sleeping on the beds of our children, and by day was great company for Margeet.
Early on, Margeet was active in the 4-H organization, teaching girls sewing, and she drafted me into teaching a class in geology. Quite often she has met some of them decades later and they thank her for getting them started. Early on, she sewed clothes for the girls from patterns they had chosen, and she also made several of their prom gowns.
She upgraded her sewing skills over the years by taking advanced sewing courses through the Penn State Extension Office. Before the kids arrived, she had a spell where she knitted argyle socks for me, as well as scarves and mittens. Then her sewing talents went into making baby clothes.
When I became active in my wood shop in the 70s, and later when the grandkids were born, I turned out hundreds of wooden toys and crafts. Some of them cried out for painting, and Margeet took a course in Tole Painting in Indiana. Like everything she attempted, she became quite adept at it, and has spent many hours/days using her Tole painting skills, even to this time.
When our daughters were in college, we noticed a sizable increase in our monthly phone bills. In going through some old records, Margeet found a phone bill from 1953 when we were first married and in Charleroi. The monthly bill was $7.28, so I had it laminated and placed it near the phone so our daughters would see it their next time home. It didn’t have the effect I was looking for because they both thought it was ancient and hilarious. From that day on, I had an agreement with Margeet that she was never again to show me a phone bill. Ignorance is bliss!
During his senior year Dave became set on joining the Army Airborne Corps and his favorite music was the Ballad of the Green Beret, an elite group fighting in Vietnam where the war was going badly for the U.S. at that time. A month or so before his 18th birthday, he came to us and asked that we sign the enlistment papers. After some discussion, I hesitated to sign, saying that I needed to think it over. Dave’s answer was, “You know, Dad, I’ll soon be 18 and won’t need your signature.” We both realized that Dave was no longer a teenager but a young man who felt he should make his own decisions. Of course we signed the papers that day.
When BJ enrolled at Baldwin_Wallace College in Berea near Cleveland, we drove her there for her first day. We arrived and found her assigned dorm and her roommate. After we looked around for a half hour or so, we said goodbye and drove on down to southern Ohio to the trailer we had rented while I was on a power plant job. To this day, whenever Baldwin Wallace comes up in a conversation, she tells everyone how we had dumped our poor, young daughter off at school and took off immediately.
Early on in our marriage, when I was working on 6 days a week jobs, Margeet handled all of our bank transaction finances. Things went so smoothly that we have never changed that winner. Like in many other areas, she is a perfectionist, and will reconcile the monthly check statements to the penny, regardless of the time it takes.
Do you have letters, cards, and miscellaneous trivia stashed away somewhere that were once treasured moments or memories that you just couldn't possibly throw away? Margeet has many such boxes or folders stashed away in cupboards, drawers, or boxes under every bed. Lately Marguerite has been going through old boxes and collections, trying to decide what should be kept, and what to throw out (which is very little)!
Every once in a while she will say, "You have to look at this, or read this letter from one of our children." Then we re-live some part of our lives, some memories that are very precious to us.
One recent letter Margeet re-read was from Karen when she was a student at Allegheny College, and as a cheerleader, was at Bethany College for a basketball game. Leaving for home, the bus had a minor wreck about a mile from town, and it was 3:00am before she got back to the dorm, facing an important math test at 8:00am. Her P.S. gave us a laugh. Obviously she was responding to some motherly advice about finances when she wrote, "I got the check & yes, I am keeping track."
My favorite is from a pamphlet of reminiscences from Marguerite's 40th high school reunion in State College. It describes happenings at the 8th grade class where Marguerite had just transferred to at State College from Mt. Lebanon in the Pittsburgh area. One part reads, "In eighth grade Geet (Marguerite) Keller joined our ranks. Geet shocked us all by being the first to wear lipstick and carry a pocketbook. Geet also started new things around here with her ‘formal’ dances.”
It goes on to describe their summer-time activities. "On Sunday afternoons most of the girls left town to go to the hog farm to swim. The boys would manage to find out somehow, and sneak around for the show! Cootie parties and houseparties were also the rage, along with knee socks." Sounds like to me that they were a pretty wild bunch my wife was running around with in those days in State College!