Gladys Tyler celebrates a century of memories
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Saturday, 22 September 2012 08:11
TONTOGANY - Gladys Tyler was 20 years old when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped.
|Gladys Tyler, who is turning 100, at home with some of the quilts that she has made. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
It was 1932 and news of the unsolved disappearance from his crib of the aviation hero's 20-month-old son filled the front pages of all the newspapers for weeks on end. She remembers it well.
Rarer still, she has crystal clear memories of the "end of the war, and boys that were in that coming home" to their Wood County families.
She's talking about World War I, which ended in 1918.
Tyler's had a good look at the entire last century, in fact, as she's about to turn 100 on Monday. She celebrates the milestone today, at an open house planned from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the Tontogany Town Hall.
She was born Gladys Green on Sept. 24, 1912 in a farmhouse on U.S. 6.
"It wasn't called Route 6 then." In her childhood, it was still known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, in tribute to the Union soldiers in a still earlier conflict - the Civil War.
The school she attended through seventh grade, the Minton School at the corner of Route 6 and Potter Road, is also long gone.
"I walked every day," no matter how cold or snowy the three-quarter-mile route. And this was an era when girls only wore dresses and "boots weren't thought of." So long wool socks and high shoes were the only protection she had.
Money was tight, and she was one of four girls at home. "We always got a new dress for Christmas, I can remember that. No toys."
Her father farmed with horses. "I can remember the first tractor he got. It makes a difference."
She also remembers the first washing machine her mother ever had, and what a life-transforming invention it was for women. "It had a gas motor under it."
She suspects that kids today "don't realize" how hard everything used to be. "I don't think young people today could take it."
She was attending school in Bowling Green by the time the family got its first car. "It was a Saxon," a model that Detroit only produced from 1914 to 1922.
"We wouldn't go anyplace unless it was special. On a Sunday afternoon we'd go down to Vollmar's Park" where the rides were just coming on. "There was a merry-go-round" but not yet a Ferris wheel.
Another vivid memory was her family's first radio. "My sister and I knew we were going to get it and we ran all the way home from school."
It was a huge piece of equipment that "ran by batteries. It took several to run it.
"The radio had three dials and you had to adjust all three to get a station to come in. I remember we wrote down how many stations we could get, and we were surprised by how many."
Tyler has lived in her present home in the Otsego School District since 1937, when her daughter, Joanne, was just a year old.
She and her husband, George, had met at a dance where he was playing in the band.
They were wed in 1931, early in the Great Depression.
"We didn't have one nickel to rub against the other," so the guys kept their orchestra gigs going as a way to bring in a little extra money.
Tyler worked as a secretary for Otsego High School for seven years in the 1950s and '60s, and as bookkeeper at the Wood County Engineer's Office for 17 years, until 1978.
At 100, she's still working. Tyler keeps the books for her family's nearly 300-acre farm.
All three jobs have used the skills she learned in her commercial classes at the "new" Bowling Green High School - the one on West Wooster that was just torn down this summer, a fact that has her shaking her head in a bit of dismay.
Her class, "109 of us, was the first class that graduated out of there, in 1930."
Tyler is proud of her lengthy dedication to both jobs and hobbies.
Up until a year ago, she was still mowing her own yard, a three-hour job with a riding mower.
"To my way of thinking, the key is keeping busy," she advised. "I wouldn't think of taking a nap in the afternoon."
Instead, she's crocheting or knitting or working on one of the dozens and dozens of quilts she's produced over the decades, having learned the art in childhood from her mother. Family and friends cherish the pieced and hand-quilted quilts and table runners she has given them as gifts, designing and donating still others as grand prizes for the annual auction at Calvary United Methodist Church in Tontogany.
Tyler loves young people, especially her great-grandchildren, Tyler and Ryleigh O'Brien.
"I just thank God I lived long enough to see 'em."
It was Tyler who gave her her nickname, Grandma Boo, "because he couldn't call me Grandma Tyler, of course, and we used to play a game of 'boo!'"
She thinks back to all the children she worked with at Otsego during the "Happy Days" era, comparing it to her own childhood.
The main difference? "They had more stuff."
But not more memories. Tyler's got a gold mine of those.