Stuffed here for safe keeping from an email...
Life Story [kinda]
A.1. date of birth:9/23/24
2. where: Astoria, O'regon [the only irish state]
3. parents: Gail Edward Brunson and Cora Souden Brunson
4. wire chief/US Army--Chief Operator, Astoria, Oregon
5. # 2 kid--older brother and younger brother
6. earliest significant events:
a. when i was 6 weeks old and they could move my mother, our family left for San Francisco to catch an army transport, the USAT Ulyssus Simpson Grant, for the Philippines. we were stationed there from 1924- 1927. the youngest son was born there. we were then transferred to the Presidio/Fort Scott/San Francisco for three years, then we moved to Fort MacArthur/ San Pedro, Calif. my parents bought us a piano and we had a couple years of lessons.
in 1933 Dad was ordered back to the Philippines,where we were stationed on Corregidor, the Rock/Fort Mills. i have many stories from this period, my life was unlike most.
we were transferred to the states on February 14th, 1935. the trip here was scary, there were drums of war on every side with preparations, posturing, everything was a threat. we came home with a manifest of 1/3 white Russians still running from the reds, 1/3 missionaries from China, escaping the Japanese who had invaded Manchuria and northern China in 1933 [not sure of this date,] but they were unable to bring their kids who had been sent to boarding schools in inner China. we were aware of a periscope that followed us home, not ours. we were under blackout conditions and limited our stops to refuel.
B. grade school years
1. where went to school:
1-3: Point Firman school in San Pedro
3-4: Fort Mills school, where, when they needed a teacher, sent a request in the newsletter that , if you passed x grade level and felt qualified to follow the Filipino curriculum,you could teach.
5-8th grade: the two room school in Hammond, Oregon. i skipped the 7th grade and my older brother tutored me, so we began to pass ourselves off as twins.
i adjusted well to civilian life but was distressed by the poverty that surrounded us. kids with no coats, no shoes, hunger, my parents were anxious to show us how the US worked and we spent many days off touring Oregon, where my mom was raised. Dad bought a 10 acre tract in the hills above Swenson/Knappa and we spent a lot of time there. there was a pair of 90 year old brothers with a donkey engine rough sawmill, an ancient apple orchard with bears, about 20 obscure varieties of apples, trees to climb, a shack, a tumble down shed, a spring for water and a "Mary Claire" (the outhouse), an abundance of wild growth and berries, a family dump behind the house with fascinating trash, a wood burning stove and old magazines. and a small hill!!! great to play in the snow!!
wonderful memories. the war was more remote, and life was no longer scary.
we kids started music lessons, first on the guitar, then the trumpet for my older brother, then sax for me and drums for "Bozo" the younger brother. i got glasses and saw the stars for the first time! Glorious! and began to catch the childhood diseases. we drove into Astoria weekly to play in an orchestra. we were flooded with experiences to make up for the cultural desert we had overseas. but do know the Philippines will always be my home of the heart.
i joined the girl Scouts even though i was too young and went to camp!! our leaders always fed us Friday night supper, and money was never part of it. adults patched or wore clothes they made from flour and sugar sacks. my mom made all my clothes [and my kids' clothes, too. in fact i still have a dress hanging in my closet my mother made for me in 1973, when we were celebrating Berni coming home from the Peace Corps!]
we drove to Warrenton, picking up kids in our Model T to go to the Warrenton Methodist church! when we were stationed in California i had attended a Methodist church in San Pedro, but church was remote and sketchy at best.
C.high school years
when we finished the 8th grade, school ran out in Hammond and nearby Warrenton wanted a high tuition, so my parents bought an old bar pilot's original home high on a hill n Astoria and we really switched to civilian life! my dad commuted to Fort Stevens to work. then Pearl Harbor...
one day my physics teacher greeted me and in an offhand manner told me Corregidor had fallen!! it could not be!! i ran all the way home crying all the way.
my dad was shipped off to Alaska and the whole male half of our high school class went, as a group, down to the recruiter on Dec.8th 1941, he sent them back to finish the year then most of them joined the services.
i had a job as a nanny with a family with two babies. later i figured out i earned less than 10 cents an hour and i did everything, because the mother was confined to bed.
during this time we all attended Astoria Methodist church where i was baptised and confirmed, went to institute(camp) at Suttle lake in 1938 and began to take my beliefs seriously.
then i got a job, volunteer with the hospital as a red Cross aide, and as a plane spotter. i also worked as a telephone operator, for college money.
D. any higher education
i left and had a year and a half at Willamette U. i left to go to nurses training at Emanuel in Portland. i came down with Scarlet Fever and fell behind my class so i joined the Waac and did med tech work in various hospitals across the states. i was discharged just in time to go back for the fall semester at WU.
F. marriage: 2/8/48
i met and married John Henry Stuller and started a whole new life!! joy! joy!
i finally graduated in 1952 with my third kid crying clear through the ceremony! it had taken me 10 years!
my uncle Bill [aka Truman Dale Souden] was killed on New Georgia, so mom had 4 blue stars and one gold star hanging in her window, to indicate service members, he was about 8 years older than myself and had lived with us when we lived in California.
John was in my chemistry class, which had changed so much that i nearly flunked even though he undertook to tutor me. i switched my major to Sociology, which had become a passion for me. John said education was cheaper than insurance so he pushed me through and i finally graduated in 1952.
we dated for a bit more than a year, then were married at Astoria UMC on Feb.8, 1948. he graduated from WU June 1948 and we moved to Amity where he taught for 3 years, Chemistry and history. among his students were Phyllis Meeker and Royal Tarter whose mothers saw to it that i got to church and women's meetings. Berni and Bill [later Bob] were born there and the whirlwind of life spun faster. John spent his spare time building a chicken coop that turned into a house on 2+ acres east of town, driving school bus, leading cub scouts, helping others, etc, etc.,sooo busy!! he earned $2400 a year! when they would not give him a raise he moved to a job in Salem with the state Dept. of Revemue. where he remained until his death Oct. 1, 1971.
Jim and Mark were born in a garage house, 15x20' with a shed attached at the back for clothes washing and work bench. it was cozy with our kids and the neighborhood kids that i baby sat. John spent his spare time reading, studying for law school, [abandoned as too intrusive on his fishin' time] a huge garden and another house to build. i got so i could drive a nail with 4 blows of the hammer! we did a lot of back packing, camping, rain or shine, fishing, reading, playing the stock market, church work. our meals were a riot, with John and his kids discussing everything and someone always took the devil's advocate stance. teachers and UMY leaders would call me and ask about this process because the kids were so often fixed in their opinions and knowledge and could hold their own in an argument.
i taught Sunday School from the time i was 16 years old and did the 3rd grade at Morningside for 15 years before i moved up to the junior high bunch and then the high school. ohhh, them were the days!! i spent a year as the president of WSCS [we serve cole slaw], but then when i went to work and quit being the neighborhood center for kid care, i slowed down a little.
in 1966 John was diagnosed with leukemia. it was predicted he had 1 to 3 years to live, but they did not figure what determination would do and after valiant fight lost the battle Oct.1,1971. i was 46 and the last chick left the nest at the same time for college. Berni was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines and Bob was on a kibbutz in Israel. my parents had moved to Salem to help raise the kids in 1953. they and i were devastated. i have looked but never could replace him. thank heavens and God, they helped pull me through.
i started work [for pay! $198/month!] 3/17/64 as a lowly file clerk but took lots of opportunities to advance and soon became the first female evaluator of disability for Workers Compensation Department. [there is a story behind that!] i read medical reports for a living...to make myself invaluable i became the eye and psychological handicapped expert. in 1980, my big mouth and spirit got me fired and i sold real estate and had a donut route [middle of the night] , bought some houses and became a slum landlord. i was not good at that! and one day my ex-boss called and asked if i wanted my old job back. i finally was forced to quit when my macular degeneration blew up and reading was difficult, ending a 24 year career.
H. Mature years [now there is a laugh! i promised i would never grow up! adults judge you and remember all the bad things you did!]
so i started volunteering: as a long term care ombudsman,
the food bank,
the soup kitchen,
church camps [+/- ] 1972- the present and future, dean, counselor, person about camp, grandma, crafts, tie-dye. about 5 years ago i did over 900 shirts in 17 camps. i only did one this year, but ,oh, boy, i do miss the fun and love!!
Christ Care groups,
Stephen's Ministry through MUMC and the hospital,
"playing" and mentoring at Highland and Morningside schools,
vacation Bible schools and Sunday School,
oh! the fun life i have had!! thanks, everybody for putting up with me!
I. Retirement Years
J. number of grand children and great grandchildren
seriously-- i have had lots of kids i count as mine. some have lived under my roof and supervision.
Olayinka and Ronke Majekodunmi, are special children of mine. and they have twin sons just turning 6.
legally, there are 4 grownup branches, with 10 +/- grands and 7 greats!
know that all of you are mine and i am yours!! [but you do not have to take any responsibility for the mischief i do.] i love you each and all.