The Life and History of Corrine Louise Pearson Purves

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Date: 22 Aug 1920 to 1 Jan 2017
Location: Washington Statemap
Surnames/tags: Purves Pearson
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I am 86 years old and I will try to write the story of my life as I remember it.

In 1920, my Father, Mother, sister, and brother went to Sweden to visit family members. My two grandmothers were still alive at that time. My Mother was pregnant with me, but thought she could get back home before I was born. On their return trip home, they stopped to visit a friend, named Karin, in Chicago. As they resumed their journey, my mother soon realized I was ready to be born. They stopped the train in Galesburg, Illinois, and I was born in hospital on August 22, 1920 weighing 5 pounds. Friends took my brother and sister home with them. My Father stayed with my Mother and after two weeks of rest, they returned home to La Conner Washington. I’m sure they were very concerned, having to send their children home with someone else, and waiting two weeks until Mother was able to travel. Mother said I was “spoiled” from the start as Papa carried me up and down the aisle of the train every time I cried.

Home was a large farm house on 60-acres of land in Skagit Valley. My Father raised oats, potatoes, hay, and seed crops on the land, but was most proud of his herd of registered Holstein cattle.

The home was large with six bedrooms, a parlor, a huge dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. When they purchased the home it had a beautiful oak dining table and chairs, and we could seat 24 at the table, which was a yearly occurrence at threshing time, as it was custom to feed the crew. Speaking of the dining table, it was oak, painted black spiral legs on the table and chairs. It was in the house when my parents bought it from the Cornwell family and the walls in the dining room were papered in maroon-colored paper. That was changed, of course, and the woodwork was very interesting. It was painted white, then yellow, and rolled with a pattern roller to make a design. Then many coats of varnish were applied – it lasted many, many years. The dining room table and chairs have been refinished, and are in the possession of Chuck Palmer.

My first memory (I think) is riding with my “ Papa” on a wagon, pulled by two horses. We rode in to La Conner (3 miles) to the Blacksmith shop to have new shoes put on the horses. As we were waiting, some Indians entered the shop. It was my first encounter with anyone of a different color and I became very frightened. Papa assured me they would not hurt me.

My parents entertained many of their Scandinavian friends. They would come from as far as Seattle for Mother’s good fried chicken dinner and wonderful desserts. My Father (I stopped calling him Papa when I was in high school) was very strict about speaking English in our home. He had no tolerance for not giving up their Swedish language – saying those that didn’t want to learn English should go back to Sweden. At those large dinners, they always served home-made blackberry wine. This was the only time I ever saw my Father drink any kind of liquor.

As a child I had chores to do. On Saturdays I had to clean my room and dust the furniture in the house. We also baked on Saturdays – Mother baked white bread, rolls, and Swedish rye bread and I helped with the cakes and cookies. We baked enough for the week as we always had extra men to feed. I don’t know how my Mother did all the work – washing by hand with no dryers or electric washing machines. I remember her always ironing at night while we did homework at the dining room table.

My Father did not believe women should have to do yard work – so I’ve never mowed a lawn in my life (having four boys). I had a Shepard dog named Tipsy that was the only playmate I had as there were no neighbor children close by.

Pleasant Ridge was the location of the grade school and the Lutheran Church where I was baptized. When I was 5 years old, I cried to go to school with my sister and I was able to visit every day. I realize now this privilege was given to me because I had no playmates or children my own age near my home. At this time there was a change in my life that has affected me ever since. My Mother decided to change my name from Karin to Corrine. Her reasoning being she was afraid I would be called Karen and she didn’t like that. My Papa was not happy over this and always called me Karin. I’ve always felt the name Corrine belonged to someone else and not me.

When I finally started school for real – my teacher was Miss Rosiland (later Mrs. Gansbury). She was a gifted teacher, we picnicked in the woods and learned about botany and built a small playhouse with furniture with furniture and sewed curtains. It was a wonderful way to learn. We were learning and didn’t know it. In later life, she was my sons’ Sunday school teacher. While attending that school, the older girls spent lunch time combing and fussing with my hair, as I was the only one in first grade. I was soon promoted to second grade, and so I was thereafter a grade ahead for my age. This became a handicap for me as I was always with children older than me and I didn’t always fit in socially.

One of my first lessons in life happened during this period of my life – I was supposed to ride the bus home, but walked instead – lied to my teacher and got caught. That made a big impression on me always.

The next big change in my life was the closing of the Pleasant Ridge School. I was transferred to La Conner Grade School, where I had Miss Peterson in the sixth grade. She was very strict and I was scared to death of here.

In seventh grade we were moved to the lower floor to the high school building and remained in that building until graduation. I participated in basketball and school plays, during my high school years. At the age of 13, I attended confirmation classes in Mt. Vernon at Salem Lutheran Church, as the church at Pleasant Ridge was closed by then. Pastor Carl V Lund was our Pastor – Confirmation was May of 1934.

During High School, I progressed quite well. There were some subjects not available to me because of the size of the school. Mickelson (a family friend) introduced me to Bill Purves, who was to become the most important person later in my life. I graduated in 1937 as valedictorian, which wasn’t too difficult in a class since of 12. My Valedictory speech was on Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of television. At the time, I had no idea how important television would become. When I finished high school, I received a scholarship to Washington State University. I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend college – I had no car, couldn’t drive, and my Father couldn’t afford to send me.

As a child, I was blessed with the presence of my Uncle Ted (my Mother’s brother) in our home. He was a logger and lived with us in the winters when the logging closed down. He was an even-tempered kind man. Along with him were many bachelors who came from Sweden and lived with us until they were able to find work. Of course, they all spoiled me, but were always polite and good to me. There were always card games played around our dining table. One of these men was Nestor Johnson (cousin of my Mother). He brought Matilda to America and married her. They were always a part of our family. They had a son, Allen, and twin girls LeRene and Lillian. The twins’ birth was a big exciting event in our lives, and I treasure them to this day.

My brother, Oliver, was 12 years older than I and lived on the farm all of his life. He married Henrietta Spahr in 1942 and they had two daughters, Anne and Emily.

My sister, Elvira was eight years older than I was and in poor health most of her life. She trained to be a nurse at Everett General Hospital, but never finished. She worked as a technician in the Burlington Hospital where she met Art Chestnut. They were married in 1937 and were later divorced. She joined the Navy and was located in Florida. When she came home, she married a classmate, Fred Hart, who became a wonderful part of our family. They owned and operated a flower shop in south Mt. Vernon.

When I finished high school, I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend college – I could not see a future on the farm, so I foolishly married Ray Jewett. The next year (January 14, 1938), Don was born and my life took on a new meaning. We moved many times – Sedro Woolley, Eugene, Springfield, Coos Bay, Portland, and Beaverton. In the next years, I worked in meat markets and groceries stores – for Safeway and other stores.

Larry was born on September 10, 1943 when we lived in Coos Bay, Oregon. Pearl Harbor was attacked at this time and we were in World War II. I ended up in Beaverton alone with two children. I worked at Millers Grocery Store – The people there were very kind to me. Some of the things that went on during those years are still painful to write about and better left unsaid.

I learned the hard way that liquor and infidelity do not make for a happy marriage. After Larry was born, it became so bad we decided to divorce. However as Ray was going to be in the Service, we decided to wait so I would receive all the benefits from the military. It was difficult for me to divorce. (My Lutheran commitments, I guess.) Anyway, the judge decided Larry should go with his Father, as he was continually ill with allergies and asthma living in Skagit County. I had no money and couldn’t support two children on my own.

During the time I lived in Beaverton, I met Billie (Maurine) Grimm. We enrolled our sons in first grade on the same day. She became my dearest friend, a friendship that lasted until her death in 2002.

In 1945, my Father urged me to come home to Mt. Vernon as I was having a difficult time. When I decided to move, Billie and Ed moved too. We rented a large house together, kids and all, and shared expenses. Ed worked for Safeway and Billie and I worked there part-time.

After moving back to Washington State, one of the first things on my list was to get a driver’s license. An old friend at the patrol office issued my license and said that Bill Purves had returned from overseas in the Army. I said to tell him “hello.”

While a Junior in High School, Bill was my boyfriend. My mother loved him and sent me every clipping she ever saw about him. That day happened to be my birthday and that evening, we had a big birthday dinner with family members. After everyone left, I was clearing the table (I spilled pickled beet juice all over the front of me) when the doorbell rang. Well, there was Bill Purves wearing cowboy boots, no less, as he had an injured leg from a war injury. (He had been hit with shrapnel from mortar fire and suffered from that all of his life.) Our reunion was love all over again. We realized that we had been too young in earlier years and not ready for anything serious.

The next spring (1946), I became very ill and had to move in with my parents, as I couldn’t contribute my share living with the Grimms. I had many tests, and they thought I had TB of the kidney. Finally, they did exploratory surgery and found my infected appendix was draining into my kidneys. They removed it, and I was okay.

After recovering from that, I obtained a job with Carnation Company as payroll clerk and receptionist – such a good job and a wonderful boss, Jack Hill. During this time I met Madell Jolly, who was personal secretary to the superintendent. She and her husband, Bob had gone to school with Bill and we became good friends. During this time, Bill and I saw each other very day.

Another person who was important in my life was Alden Mickelson. He was in grade school with me at Pleasant Ridge, then moved to Mt. Vernon, where he became friends with Bill. He introduced me to Bill and was a lifelong friend. Sadly, he became ill with multiple sclerosis and ended up in a wheelchair before his death.

Bill and I were married January 18, 1947. The wedding was in my parent’s home. Billie Grimm was my attendant and Dave Purves was Bill’s best man. Pastor Oliver Nelson was the minister. We went to Vancouver BC for our honeymoon and stayed in a suite at the Vancouver Hotel. I remember, I left my orchid corsage on the window sill and a pigeon stole it!

Our first residence was an apartment in Burlington. Housing was difficult to find, but we finally found an older home to rent while we built our first home. We bought half acre of land on College Way in Mt. Vernon. We paid $500 for it and purchased it from Mr. Mattson, who owned the whole corner at that time. We built a small two bedroom, one bath house – it was like a doll house.

Mark was born July 23, 1948 while we lived in that house in Burlington. Our new neighbors were Lumen and Martha Davidson and their two children, Dale and Cheryl. Mark and Cheryl were the same age, so they spent a lot of time together. That family was important in our lives – Greg was born later and we were honored to be chosen as his godparents.

On September 10, 1948, Bill’s Father died very suddenly of a heart attack – 62 years old. Bill was badly needed in the plumbing shop, so he acquired his journeyman plumbing certificate and resigned from his job at the State Patrol. He and his brother worked for their Mother until 1976 when the business was sold.

In 1950, my Father had surgery and it was discovered he had cancer of the bowel. He recovered enough so he could help my brother on the farm, but he was handicapped for the rest of his life with a colostomy. In the spring of 1952, he developed the flu and never regained his strength. My Mother cared for him as well as she could, but he was in and out of the hospital and nursing homes for several months. It got to be a joke, where Bill and Fred were going to take him next. He passed away September 12 1952, the same night my cousin Allen was married. I had shaved him and visited with him that afternoon. I missed him as I felt very close to him. He and Mark had such good times together.

In 1952, Mark became sick with allergies and the doctor ordered us to get him out of the country with hay fields and into the city where there was less pollen. When we bought our house at 1118 Skagit Street, we still hadn’t sold our little house. (Our real estate agent was Jack Price.)

In January 1953, Bill fell at the plumbing shop and broke his knee cap. During this time, television was just becoming available. When Bill had his broken knee-cap, a friend who was in the business felt sorry for him and brought him a TV set to watch. Of course, we were all hooked (except my Mother, who didn’t think she ever wanted one.). It was very ironic, as my subject for my valedictory speech was the invention of television by Philo Farnsworth. Of course at that time I had no idea how important this invention would be.

On Bill’s birthday, February 3, 1953, my Mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage. It was a very difficult time, but we managed to make it through it all. We finally sold our house on College Way.

After my parents’ deaths, we sold their home on Douglas Street. Uncle Ted asked to come and live with Bill and me. He lived in our basement bedroom for several years, until he couldn’t walk up and down Lincoln Hill to his beloved T&D Card Room. (Mark always thought the T&D stood for Ted.) He was a great help to me and always a joy to have around. He died in 1964.

In the meantime, Steven was born on April 15, 1954 in Mt. Vernon. He was very ill as a baby and required lots of care. Uncle Ted helped me so much at that time and became like a Grandpa to Steve.

During this time we had nice neighbors move across the street. He was the JC Penney Manager – Joe and Edra Tedford had three boys, Joe, Jeff, and Jon, and one girl Becky. Edra and I became very close friends as did , Steve and Jon, Mark and Jeff. Our next-door neighbors Gunnar and Irma Tranum were transferred and sold their house to Ed and Linda Zeretzke. They had Dale (same birth date as Mark); Randy; and Heidi. They were some of my dearest friends.

Larry and Kay Lidell were married in August 1960 and our first grandchild, Kristine Louise, was born the next year. Don graduated from Western Washington College in June 1961 and married Peggy Tobin shortly after. They eventually had four children – Denise, Michael, Karin, and Kathleen. Mark graduated from college and Steve graduated from high school in 1972.

The plumbing shop was sold in 1976, so Bil l had to look elsewhere for work. He came over to Hanford and we moved to an apartment in Richland. During this time, Mark was working for Pacific Fruit in Clarkston. He met Cora Lee Hays from Walla Walla and they were married on September 10, 1977. Mark finally took a job as Auditor of Washington State and after several moves, ended up in Yakima.

Bill’s Mother died in August 16, 1978 at the age of 92. She was a lovely lady and a wonderful Mother-in-law.

The Hanford job was coming to an end and Bill did not want to travel for work so he decided to retire in 1981 at the age of 61. We couldn’t think of going back to Mt. Vernon and the damp climate on the west side. We bought property at Desert Aire with inheritance money from Granny Purves. We bought a large mobile home and set it up – we really loved it there!

Steve lived with us at Desert Aire and had different jobs. We never could determine what was wrong, but discovered in 1987 that he had muscular dystrophy. Mark was the first to be diagnosed – a big surprise as he had no symptoms earlier. Bill and I started to travel in 1982 and bought a motor home. The next year we travelled to Texas where we met with Jack and Millie and Linda and Ed and drove to South Texas. We loved travelling and bought a new motor home. Bill loved that motor home and we had such a good time travelling in it. We spent several winters at the Voyager in Tucson.

We spent many happy years at Desert Aire, but Bill developed viral meningitis in August of 1989 and was never the same after that. It was difficult for him to function normally, but he still enjoyed life out there. In February 1995, Bill was in a nursing home with pneumonia and Steve suddenly dropped over and died. That was a terrible time. Bill finally came home and was okay until March 1996 – I had to let him go to the nursing home. I drove back and forth for about a year while I got the house sold and moved to Yakima. He passed away on August 16, 1997.

I’ve lived in an apartment on Storm Street in Yakima now for 17 years and have done some travelling. I had back surgery in July 2002 (82 years old), bladder surgery in June 2003 (83 years old), and a colostomy in August 2009 (89 years old).

On December 31st, 2016 Corrine Purves suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. She passed away 30 hours later. She was beloved by all who knew her and will be dearly missed.

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Karin Purves
Karin Purves

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