Remembering Our Cemeteries and Knowing Us Amos’s

Margie (Maggie) Francis Laing Adams, Rose Lawn Cemetery, Perry MI


Here in Wisconsin, there’s a country cemetery up the road from our house that my husband’s family has maintained for more than 40 years. Every year on Memorial Day we gather with the ever-aging cemetery board members and discuss things like burning burdock along the fence line or increasing plot fees from $75 to $100. (I wrote about these exciting meetings here in my maternal grandmother’s blog.)

Anyway, planning for this year’s meeting has got me thinking about traveling to Michigan in three weeks for the Amos Reunion and the cemeteries we’re going to visit as part of our historical road trip. I’m getting so excited! In fact, we’ve now given the road trip an official name—the Gulick-Laing Legacy Tour, or, simply the Legacy Tour, since we don’t want to appear overly ostentatious.

Here’s what’s planned for the Legacy Tour

On Saturday, June 16, at 9 am., we’ll meet at Cinders Grill in Laingsburg. We’ll enjoy a dutch treat breakfast. We’ll go over route maps and handouts that Jerry is putting together. And best of all, we’ll raucously reconnect with those we haven’t seen in years!

After breakfast, we’ll all take off in our cars for the Legacy Tour. We’ll drive past homes where our ancestors lived. We’ll see sites where important buildings once stood. And we’ll visit cemeteries where our family members are buried. The tour may take 3-4 hours, depending on our speed. Join us whenever you wish, stay as long as you can stand us.

But the best comes after the Legacy Tour!

Duane and Jan’s house is where the real action will be! I hear they’ve even put in a horseshoe pit. The reunion starts at 2 pm. Come whenever you can, but for sure be there by 5-6 for the delicious dinner!

But wait, I’ve been thinking…

For some, it’s been decades since we’ve seen each other. Others of us haven’t even met. How will we know we’re Amos’s?

Joel came up with identifying clues. We need you to add to them!

You know you’re an Amos if…

  • You sing the special Happy Birthday song
  • You’re always late
  • You can never find your glasses
  • You can never find your glasses, and you look in the mirror and they’re on your head
  • Pickles are a required food for every gathering

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Bath School Disaster

Duane's 1940 class

Here’s Duane’s 4th grade class in 1940. Can you find him? It’s important to note that Duane’s class was not involved in the Bath School Disaster, but 13 years earlier children this same age were. Can you imagine the horror?


Today we’re going to have a history lesson. Today is the 85th anniversary of the Bath School Disaster, and while this tragedy happened five years before Duane, our octogenarian, was even born, because it took place in our family’s general neighborhood, I thought it worthy of mention.

Bath Township was, and still is, a small community located just off what now is I-69. It’s about ten miles southwest of Laingsburg. According to Wikipedia, in 1922, the community voted to close its one-room schools and merge them into the Bath Consolidated School system. They built a big, new school building, which, of course, necessitated an increase in property taxes.

One man, Andrew Kehoe, was particularly disgruntled by these costs. As treasurer for the Bath Consolidated School board, he fought to lower the taxes and blamed them for the financial difficulties he was having on his farm.

On the morning of May 18, 1927, Kehoe killed his chronically ill wife and set his home and farm buildings on fire. As fire fighters responded to this emergency, Kehoe detonated hundreds of pounds of explosives he had previously planted in the Bath Consolidated School building. And then, if that wasn’t enough, as people rushed to respond to the school explosion, Kehoe drove up in his car and detonated that too. It killed him, the school superintendent and several others who were nearby.

According to sources, all totaled, Kehoe killed 45 people and injured at least 58. Most of his victims were children in the second thru seventh grades, whose classrooms were in the north wing of building. During the rescue efforts, searchers found an additional 500 pounds of undetonated explosives in the south wing of the building.

Can you imagine something so horrific happening in your community?

At the time, Gladys would have been 16. She may have been living with her father in the Williamston area or with her mother in Lansing. Can you imagine how shocking it was to hear of this news?

I ask the Amos Boys about it. I wonder if they talked about it as children? Did people memorialize the date the way we do our tragedies today?

“We heard about it as we were growing up, but not too much detail,” says Duane.

“It happened before we were born,” says Bruce. “All we knew is what we heard, and that wasn’t a whole lot.”

“I don’t remember ever discussing it,” says Jerry. “Not in my neighborhood, or with my grandparents, or in school. Not even in junior or senior high school. Some history teacher may have mentioned it, but I don’t remember.”

Basically, as Jerry says, it happened and then people put it aside. They moved on.

Let’s talk about this a bit (we can have a psychology lesson as well as our history lesson).

If we look at modern-day school tragedies, like the Columbine High School Massacre or the Virginia Tech Massacre (neither of which had a death toll as high as the Bath School Disaster), we see public reactions that are very different. Nowadays, the media exposes every detail and we discuss it to great lengths. We send counselors into the classroom to help students deal with what they’ve experienced. And we soothe our pain with proactive measures to ensure nothing so terrible will ever happen again.

How different from putting it aside and moving on.

What do you think?

Mother’s Day and 1st & 2nd Mrs. Amos’s

Amos cousins


@1968

When my generation—the Amos Boys’ children—were kids, we always gathered for holidays, birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Days, and summer outings. We’d all get together—us kids, our parents and our grandparents. It’s just what we did.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how unique this was. It’s unique because there in attendance were Roland, his wife Harriet, and his ex-wife Gladys. And everybody got along.

Maybe unique isn’t the best word. Maybe special is better. And caring, giving and tolerant.


1958

I once asked Harriet about this. It was after Roland died and we were talking about special things.

She said they did this right from the beginning. Apparently, there was to be an upcoming gathering and Bruce’s wife, Jeanne, said she was not going to have separate parties. Harriet asked Roland if that was okay. He said yes. Roland asked Gladys if that was okay. And she said yes.

In our phone conversation this week, the Amos Boys talked about Roland, Harriet and Gladys.

“Elaine, and Jeanne, and Carol, they all got together and informed Dad and Harriet, and I suppose our Mother too, that we were going to get together and if they wanted to come, we would all be there,” says Duane. “And so they did get together.”

“They made it plain they weren’t going to have two or three different celebrations each time,” adds Jerry.

And so it was.


1990s

Harriet (on the right) once introduced Gladys as the first Mrs. Amos
and herself as the second Mrs. Amos.


Harriet told me this togetherness was awkward only when my sisters and I invited them, the grandmothers, to our school’s annual Mother-Daughter Banquet. Harriet would always pick up Gladys and they would ride from Lansing to Owosso together.

“It mustn’t have been too awkward. They often would all ride together,” says Duane. “Like when they came to our house.”

And so it was.


1979

This week our post is dedicated to the awesome mothers in our family—Gladys, who was mother to our beloved Amos Boys; Harriet, who happily took on a ready-made family; and Carol, Jeanne and Elaine, who married the Amos Boys and had us kids.

And, of course, here’s to the generations of mothers that now follow.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

We’re a Fairly Healthy Bunch, We Are!

For more than 76 years the world has been blessed by those Expletive Amos Boys. In fact, Duane, being the octogenarian, now leads the pack into their next decade.

I ask the boys what it’s like to live this long—longer than their parents—and to still be amazingly quite healthy. They feel very fortunate.

“Always drink good whiskey,” advises Bruce. “Really, the more active you are the better you are. The longer you can do that, the better.”

Duane agrees. Even though he’s long been known for his love of sedentary reading, he’s done a lot of walking. He walked regularly for his job and later when he retired, he continued the regiment.

Jerry’s secret is lots of exercise and a good diet.

“I got into health stuff starting in my late 20s and early 30s,” says Jerry. “It was just something that interested me. And nowadays, there’s a lot more people living to be a hundred.”

“That’s what Duane’s shooting for. A hundred, isn’t it?” asks Bruce.

“Yeah,” says Jerry. “And he’s almost there.”

So here we have these three hardy guys who are always dissing each other about their age. And as each of us contemplates our own longevity, we thought it pertinent to pass along a family health history. It is, after all, just as important as our genealogical history.

So here’s to that well-worn subject that we discuss as mundanely as the weather—here’s to our health.

Arthritis
This week is National Arthritis Week so let’s start here. As we age, this nasty affliction sometimes stiffens our joints. The Amos folks are not immune.

“I’ve had problems with my knees and shoulder joints and stuff like that, with arthritis,” says Bruce.

“When you get in your 70s, then arthritis, and for men, prostrate—if you’re fortunate to live long enough—you start to have problems,” says Jerry. “I have a little arthritis, but nothing that bothers me too much.”

“I haven’t been bothered by arthritis,” says Duane. “Very seldom. I just have trouble with my balance.” (Age has nothing to do with that one—anyone who knows Duane’s side of the family is well aware of our overall absence of grace and coordination).

As Gladys aged, she too had problems with arthritis. It bothered her hands and her knuckles would swell.

And Roland?

“Sometimes he walked like he may have had trouble,” says Bruce. “But if he did, he never talked about it. He just didn’t talk about those things.”


Maggie Francis Laing death certificate and obit


Maggie Laing Gulick Adams, also called Margie, was Gladys’ mother. Jerry lived with her for the first 12 years of his childhood. Maggie died of throat cancer.


Cancer
Unfortunately, our family has suffered with cancer. Included in our list is prostrate, breast, ovarian, throat and an aggressive brain tumor.

But really, what family hasn’t dealt with this crummy disease? In generations past, many people who died of cancer were elderly. They didn’t have the preventative care and early detection we have today.

“Back then most people didn’t have insurance. They weren’t apt to go to the doctor unless they thought something was really wrong,” says Bruce. “Consequently, they waited too long. Our dad (Roland) didn’t like doctors or dentists. He had prostrate cancer and he didn’t do anything about it until after it spread to his kidneys.”

Macular degeneration
(I admit, I spent a great deal of time searching how to spell this one. Is it immaculate? Demaculate? Who knew?)

“There’s a dry kind and a wet kind,” says Bruce. “The dry kind is slow progressing and that’s what I have. The doctor wants me to check me frequently so it can be monitored.”

“That’s what happens when you get old,” says Duane.

“Are you speaking from experience?”

“I say, Jerry and I aren’t having those problems. We mustn’t be getting old.”

“Well, that’s because you led a good, clean life.”

There’s always this back and forth repartee between the guys.

Cataracts
When I was a kid, cataracts surgery was something really old people had in order to improve upon their near-blindness. Not so nowadays.

“Elaine and I have both had cataract surgery so we don’t need to wear glasses,” says Jerry.

“I’ve had cataract surgery too, but I still wear glasses,” says Bruce.

“I haven’t had it,” says Duane. “But I’m going to need it done someday. I’ll need it in my left eye.”

I wonder if cataracts are heredity or are they a fact of life if one lives long enough?

“I guess it’s mostly if you’ve been in the sun a lot, which is most people. Then the lens gets clouded,” says Jerry. “They (doctors) just go in the side of the eyeball and pop the old lens out and put it a new one. They can put in any prescription you want.”

All this eyeball talk makes me rather squeamish, but it is good to know someday I may not have to wear glasses.

An interesting story
With all this health talk, I forgot to ask the guys about their childhood. Were they healthy kids, I wonder?

One interesting story did come up.

When Duane and Bruce were living in Indiana, their Grandma (Beatrice) Amos took them all the way to Chicago to get their tonsils out.

“We went by train,” says Bruce. “We went to the hospital that my Aunt Dorothy was at. She was a nurse there.”

Wow, what an adventure for two young boys!