Below see a picture of John and his 3 sisters.
Commentary 1945-1952 (1952 Jan-June in North Salem New Hampshire parsonage; 1952 June-December : Setting up household in Seville Ohio parsonage and minister for Seville and Chippewa Lake churches.
John’s mother, Nellie Bonney Harnish and John Harnish had 5 children (4 lived, shown above) including John Malcolm Harnish. John’s parents married in 1918 and John (Johnny) was born in 1925. In 1930 John was 4 years old living with the family on Stoughton Street in Sheffield Lake, Lorain Ohio. They had moved there from Lorain F. Street where they lived next to John’s grandparents Emma and William Cody Baker. His paternal uncle Jimmie, were living with Nellie and family. There are several listings in city directories for John’s father, one as a pipe fitter and one as a machine operator at the Hoffman Heater Co during those early years. By 1940, John and family had moved to Elyria Ohio, renting a house on West River Road in Vincent Twnshp. John (Jr.) was 14 and his father would die just 6 years later.
In 1945 and 1946 John was 119-20 years old, and had joined the army. He had apparently met his future wife Marci already and they were corresponding, by letter and telegram.
After high school she ended up in nursing school, taking classes, and working in Elyria. Johnny was also corresponding with his own family, Nellie, Bonita, Ella Jane, and Bonney. The Gannets (Herman and Grace, the older Gannetts) were family friends. Also, John’s Aunt Hazel (by marriage to James Wayne Harnish 1901-1951) was quite supportive, financially and socially. Marci Gremore was traveling from the nursing school/residence to visit her future mother in law mostly by bus. Nellie advises John to not worry about Marci “She is OK about you too”. There is some talk about Marci taking classes at BW. In January of 1947 Nellie is commenting “Glad you and Marci are happier” suggesting trouble, perhaps.
By 1947 John and Marci are married (7/27/1947). Marci Jo was born in May, 1948 and by 1949 they were living in Berea, Ohio attending Baldwin Wallace College. I believe Mom did attend Baldwin Wallace but for less than a year. But by April of 1950 they have moved to the Boston area, living on Bay and Tate Road in North Salem, New Hampshire, Suffolk County. John had decided to go to Boston Theological Seminary in 1950. They lived nearby (Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts) and he carpooled with 5-6 other students to attend his full load of classes. He is participating in Methodist Church as a student and being taught how to be a minister including writing sermons and bulletins, running the Methodist Youth Fellowship, attending the Board of Education meetings, Salem Council of Churches. Mom is taking on some of the usual activities of a minister’s wife, including attending WSCS and helping with MYF. Singing in the church choir, singing solo’s at church, being part of and entertaining the Weslyan Services Guild, attending a service banquet in Boston, setting up a Kindergarten during church.
Their second child, John Mark was born in June 1950 and Wesley James in September of 1951, just 15 months later. At this point John Mark has not had his first seizure, so the assumption (see photo below) would have been that he was developing normally.
They are raising 3 children under 3 and receiving support, letters, and packages from their own families, including Aunt Hazel who lives in Cleveland. He describes John Mark sleeping in “the big bed” with MJ and getting out “constantly”, both coming to parents bed and MJ crying because she couldn’t take Mark back to her bed, “the children all got to crying, Settled down in hour or so” so nighttime sound a little chaotic.
1952 Jan-June in North Salem New Hampshire parsonage.
John starts keeping a Journal and by January 1952 comments that Marci “hasn’t been quite up to par.” But “says she feels real good tonight.” She is doing all the cooking, including dishes to take to potluck suppers, cleaning the house for meetings hosted there, cooking “Sunday dinners” of Roast Beef. doing almost all the home and childcare, having to stay home from church to care for Mark, and typing papers for John. John writes he “helped Marci a tiny bit,” more like babysitting for his own children. “the baby is quite sick.”, taking baths with the kids or doing work as a favor to mom, “Cleaned up the kitchen for Marci” helped M take care of kids & got breakfast“did some dishes while Marci took MJ & Mark to the store in wagon and on bike” doing laundry because Mom has carpal tunnel syndrome, emptying ashes, glue Mark’s bed, glue the washer wringer, wringing some clothes, borrowing a washer for M to use, set a clothes line pole for Marci, taking broken washer apart and taking connecting rod out, washed clothes & helped get breakfast, playing w/ children, and re-arranging furniture, splitting wood, starting fires. He also builds things for the children (a play car out of a crate). He solves problems at the church such as the hive of bees in the wall to the nursery that had to be removed. They are apparently caring for a child Jimmie in addition to their own. By June 1952, Aunt Hazel takes Jimmie home to live with her. Her husband died in October 1951. Dad states he is “feeling very worn out.” And later “feeling quite worn out” and “feeling punk” having nose bleeds needing packs, second time he gave me a shot of Demerol and I came home groggy & went to sleep, After taking Mark to the hospital, and ferrying out the other children, dad writes “no children in house for first time.”
Dad is in charge of home and car maintenance including, for example putting up the storm windows for the winter scrubbing the bathroom and back porch. There is an early event when dad didn’t make formula while mom was gone and they argued over it and then had to sleep on the couch because the storm windows were not up. Their primary friendship is with Jack and Patty Haney and they spend almost all evenings together, discussing politics, religion, plans for graduate school, marital relations, monogamy, and playing monopoly together. They also begin to be friends with Dick and Elaine Bright from Berea, and the Vandivers in Boston. The meetings associated with the church organizations are very frequent.
They have to arrange babysitting and in this period 1952 Sandy and Wally and Nicky were the sitters. Dick and Ester Cate (child of Cathy and Dick, son who has difficulty with writing and is getting medical care) are apparently neighbors who do a lot of childcare in this period. Another neighbor is Vern and Betty Ells who have a son Mark aout the same age as John Mark. They help with childcare. The people at the beginning who lived next door were the Barlows but they moved away.
Dad is enamored with the children and does document poignant moments; MJ “thanked god for her happy day.”“Marci Jo is finger painting in the kitchen, Wesley was sitting in high chair and Mark was plugging in the mixer from the gate on the playroom.”, MJ is beautiful & bright -we can hardly keep up w/ her. Wesley raising himself up on his hands and toes” They went to Vs came to Baby Show at 230. Mark was named “Romeo” and Wesley “most athletic. We didn’t enter Marci Jo. Wesley was called “Jimmie” part of the time. MJ played with Bill Dudley Vandevier (Boston friends, maybe or child Frances),
They listen to the radio together.”M & I spent nice evening together” He notices mom “wore her blue dress and looked wonderful”, looked very pretty (wore a flower at her throat & had grey suit on” . They have long discussions about “finances” which includes many loans made either at the bank (25-200$) or the Credit Union associated with the church. They are trying to figure out the rest of his career, specifically what church he will lead, and the salary (one was for 2600/yr with 3 yr. commitment). There is a push to finish school so he can start earning money but he has 14 hours remaining. He is asking for 10$ more a week to stay another year at this church in Salem. There are discussions about Nellie and Aunt Hazel taking care of their debt to allow him time to finish school Dad is doing the Technocracy (self) Study Course and having long discussions about it with Grandpa Gremore. Marci’s sister Lois is also involved in Technocracy. (There is a picture of Lois in the Technocracy publication). John had lost his father early and Grampa Gremore certainly filled in as a life advisor. Dad was an analyser and though not very politically oriented, he thought long and hard about life choices. Mom and Dad agreed about most primary principles of living and rarely argued. He often said the biggest problem with society was an absence of trust and the most important part of life was relationships which should always have absolute priority. I’m sure these were shared principles that kept the marriage strong. They certainly guided all parenting decisions.
He writes “My conclusion: realizing that we are now in debt to tune of about 1500- it did not seem right to plunge any more w/ otho leveling off. Also another year would be hard on us psychologically w/ little chance for doing the community any good. I called C & he will move me. I suggested joining Pleasant Street & North Salem together & he sounded willing. Told Cs we aren’t going to stay another year. Went to see C & he offered us Hampton at 2200 I guess we will take it, move in Aug. 1st after a summer in Ohio N.H. Conf. at Clairmont. I saw the Board of Min Training & they expect to ordain me a deacon if my transfer comes through from the N.E. Ohio Conf. June 1952. Went to see T C & I decided since my transfer didn’t come through from Ohio that I would go to Ohio & stay. He was sorry to see me go but was very understanding about it. ”
As implied above, they are about to enter a 15 year period of their lives (and it’s odd to me that dad doesn’t give more detail about what must have been shocking), when Mark began to have seizures (convulsions). They take him to Boston Children’s Hospital, likely at that time the best pediatric treatment center in the country . He is evaluated, put on liquid phenobarbital and they were told it was something he would grow out of by age 3 or 4. When he doesn’t and he in fact gets worse, it is likely that they were devastated. Even then, dad hardly mentions anything except mom’s sadness about Mark.
There are trips to the doctor with increasing frequency as Mark begins to have trouble (Feb-ear infection, sick w/ germ of some time”needing penicillin, crying spells & petit mal seizures). Before the year is over, he is “getting worse” and they have to take Mark to Children’s Hospital in Boston where he is admitted for a neurological work up. It sounds like Mark’s problems also lead to safety issues requiring gates, “made a gate for the children’s bedroom, new door knob, new latch on door.” Also, the doctor makes house calls for the children.
The times when Mark is not at home, mom and dad both struggle with worry and try to help him cope “left a toy for Mark-a peg board toy town.” In this first hospitalization they go to visit each night. Mark is happy when they come and happy to go home. Dad documents “the neurologist examined Mark’s encephalagram & diagnosed him as having a brain disturbance with an unknown prognosis.” Later he is seen by a specialist, Dr. Davidson who, in March 1952 says he would outgrow his seizures by 3-4 years. The appointments are monthly. He tries to sound up beat “Mark is getting around ok and is happy but he is uncoordinated” “Mark has been quite well” documenting 5 seizures over a week and getting elixir of phenobarb 3 times a day, with cutting teeth and drooling “a whole lot” and “Marci is depressed about his condition.” Je 52 “had EEG which shows he is much improved” “Mark walked up the aisle.” “Threw up this AM but appears ok otherwise.” The hospital/medical cost for Mark begins to be mentioned. Others in the family and church send contributions.
There seems to be a lot of dental care (mom to dentist, dad with 5 cavities, dentist took an hour) In April, “Marci is feeling ill tonight” Marci in depressed mood tonite. Marci went to bed at 9. I went at 1. “Marci is worried about the fact that she is very tired lately” Marci went to Dr. today. Wesley got a shot & the Dr. looked at Marci’s arms & hands which are broken out w/ an allergy. Dad reports “had a bad cold & getting very little sleep”
In late April 1952, mom starts working nights though it only ends up lasting from April 27 to May 25, borrowing a neighbor’s car to get there. When she gets home and needs to sleep, she has to take the kids to a baby sitters. Dad says “talked to Marci till 11 about the routine needed in our life.” Wesley w/ intestinal upset. Helped Marci apply solution to her arms when she is having an allergic reaction. M preparing clothing for packing. I have a bad cough & M has one too. WJ has cold.
Packing to go to OHIO: stayed up to 3AM packing (taken by movers Je. 16, 1952). We cleaned the house. Arrived in Ohio by Je 19, 7am.
June-December 1952: Setting up household in Seville Ohio parsonage and minister for Seville and Chippewa Lake churches.
They picked up grandma and Bonita with her boyfriend George and her son Nelson and went to Lakeside (cottage at 223 Cedar “Sacred Cow”)with the 35$ expense check. They attended Northeast Ohio Conference at Lakeside and found out he was assigned Seville-Chippewa church. When leaving Lakeside the car went dead (coil and condenser, 26$) and they end up at Aunt Hazel’s in Cleveland. They bought an old trailer without racks or sides, for $35 to haul furniture to Seville parsonage. They end up back at grandma’s after trying to get an old fridge from New London that leaked gas so they borrowed one. They took kids to fireworks and then headed out again to Seville
They got furniture from New London (mom’s childhood home), and a dresser from Gannetts, and a mattress from grandma’s and a bed from another person “Mrs. O”, Bonita bought a “beautiful cedar chest fro 5.00 from Mrs. O also (worth about $50)which is still in the family. a table from Aunt Chub, a couch from Aunt Audrey, a roll-a-way bed, mattress from Aunt Jo (& Uncle Ralph), plan to buy Aunt Jo’s automatic washer (250) and the 2 Persian rugs (900) and a Piano (50) Aunt Jo is involved and mom/dad “buy” a rug and chairs from her. This is the infamous Oriental Rug that the family still has. They got coal out of Aunt Hazel’s bin (she no longer needs it, has switched to gas), and her dining room set. Another two families who are supportive older couples are the Sedleceks and Frank & Helen, the Sassmanhausens. Bonita is involved in the moving and the work of settling. They are still writing letters, particularly to Jack and Patty and to Johns Aunt Bea (and Uncle Boykin) who live in Tennessee. The children are moved around to different beds depending what family is visiting. Family come to visit including mom’s dad and Aunt Chub, and his sister Bonney and husband Joe. Dad has to pick up grandma, Bonita, EJ and the kids to bring them to the new Seville parsonage (total of 10 children he reports at one point). They visit mom’s sister Audrey Sukey and MJ sometimes comes and goes with Terry and Scott Sukey. Dad continues to shuttle dad’s sister Ella Jane, and Bonita’s daughter Bonita (Pinky) who is old enough to help mow the lawn. Nelson is old enough to mind children and take them to Sunday school. It is as if the families are blended and spread around and its only important that there be safe coverage, its not so important where each child is residing. Ella Jane is pulled both directions to help at grandma’s (sanding the floor) and helping mom/dad set up household. Dad is also pulled into helping and helps lay linoleum in the kitchen at grandma’s house. It wasn’t until July 25 that their moving van arrives and demands 199$ to unload.
There is a Baker-Harnish Family Reunion at Central Park around mom/dad’s 5th wedding anniversary (they got a set of dishes and money. It included all the above folks plus Aunt Hazel, Aunt Bea, Aunt Viv, Uncle Boykin and Bobby (Vivian’s son), and Aunt Madelyn. They got home from this at 2AM. Also there are infrequent visits to dad’s Aunt Elinor & Uncle Elbert (Au. 10, 1952) who now live in Huron on the property Elinor and her husband occupied until his death. But life seems like an ongoing family reunion. No one stays in one place too long and the Bonneys and Gremores blend as well. Nelson frequently stays in Seville and even helps staple and fold parish papers till late at night. But just days later, dad “took Nelson to school” which would not have been in Seville. Martha Monogan’s grandchild jean ann is getting married (Bill Freda) and of course dad will do the ceremony. Of course events prompted bigger gatherings. In November on one day they got a babysitter, got ready to go to Cleveland for Bonney and 4 children and to Elyria to get registered to marry in Lorain County and then to the wedding rehearsal for Jean & Bill and went to Gannetts to stay all night. The Bonney daughter and Marci Jo were flower girls and of course Nelson was the ring bearer for the wedding. After Thanksgiving at Seville “took Mom Bonita, Geo Bonita & Nelson home (MJ & Mark rode along). For Christmas Dad Gremore and Aunt Chub came to Seville and the next day they all went to Grandma’s after picking up Ella Jane who arrived from Los Angeles on a bus (and then go back to the bus station to get the suitcase left there). No wonder the cars broke down.
Dad begins the project of the two churches, including running the MYF while attending school in Oberlin and finishing up loose ends from Boston Theological Seminary. The grades he reports are Cs and Ds which determine credits that can be used toward his degree. He has to apply by county for credential to do weddings. He needs a “pulpit gown” and gets one at Wards for $40. There is a Commission on Education he runs and the “Official Board” for the churches, the Commission on Worship & Evangelism, and the Brotherhood & Sisterhood group. He sometimes has to attend dinners (church suppers) or speak at the Women’s Society (WSCS) w/ mom. When dad injurs his foot, mom has to do the bulletin boards at the churches. At one point he is called to a home where a 4 year old was dying but was dead when he got there so he had to call the doctor and the Funeral Home for the family. In October he “painted on church half a day”
They quickly begin to know the neighbors. One in particular is named Boyd, an alcoholic who dad takes under his wing, going sometimes multiple times a day to take care of him, feed him, set his fire, and counsel him. He describes him as “a tumbler” with a good strong build. This is dad’s initiation into addiction work that he pursues after the ministry until retirement. He also gets involved in AA (even given the Big Book by the group. He says that “the main thing I do is keep his heating fires going & give non-directive counseling” The closest friends in Seville are the Masons, Virginia & (?) They even loan m/d money ($350) for a down payment with 1939 Hudson trade in on a 1948 Hudson w/ 23K miles on it (in October of 1952). Note the balance was still 1159 to pay off the used car. On NYE they discuss with Masons, the devil, having convictions, economics, extra curricular activities in schools and attitudes in our society relative to giving & receiving. The elder Gannets (Herman and Grace) were apparently known through the Methodist Church in Laporte where Henry is active. The younger Gannets (Jim and Joy) begin to be included during this year. There is a chicken house fire in the neighborhood that everyone attends, for example. Dad is already putting a gate on the neighbor’s play yard that mom/dad intend to use. There is an outbreak of polio in Seville that forces the Sunday school to close.
Mom is described as tired, not getting much sleep because of the children. The house is very cold. She went to Dr. for a check, wasn’t feeling well, and Dr. says she is ok. In early August mom had a sharp chest pain on left, high up. Dad documents “helping her, I bathed Mark for her, again more like babysitting your own kids. I helped around the house, helped m clean house till 2AM, went to drug store & got Wesley another new bottle. I played with MJ & Mark. She attended a 3 year old funeral who died of polio. (the only polio case in Seville village this year). She loses the checkbook but finally finds it (this happens periodically). The children are getting her up multiple times a night. Mom is “tired” One day she called dad home and was very depressed for awhile. She had her eyes tested and got new glasses, Mom is ill so dad went after his sister Bonita to come and helped. In Oct, “Marci isn’t feeling well” “Children are all quiet, M is doing dishes” Oct 28 Marci is feeling ill. M went to doctor at 330 , got back about 5. Marci is better.
Dad puts the sweeper together, got a refrigerator man to come. The car “blew a soft plug. He repaired screens, mowed long grass. He Cleaned house w/ Marci the rest of an afternoon The car shift broke on one of the trips through northern Ohio. He worked on the house plumbing, a plugged toilet he carried down the stairs causing him to trip and turn his ankle which then he had to stay off for weeks, be on crutches, get taped by Dr. Avery, after the X-ray was negative. He had the car greased at Chaney’s Texaco Sta., fix broken generator, At one point he buys $2 worth of coal. He dug potatoes, planted raspberries, tried to repair the heat lamp. put in storm windows or takes them out twice a year. , put turn buttons on basement windowns, bulit a low bench, put Ohio plates on car, raked leaves w/ MJ (Wesley looked on) and shoveled in a ton of coal in our basement, planning on 7 more ton from Ohio strip mines. Dad built a coal chute to make the next delivery easier. He built a little cupboard for MJ to put her new cooking sets etc. into. There were multiple refrigerators on the back porch collected in hopes of getting one to work Finally dad sells them for at total of $4. He doesn’t leave car things unfixed, taking something like broken springs to the garage to fix.
They start to figure out babysitting, including (through the year) a Mrs. W. a widow who lives alone from Prospect Street (?) who charged only a dollar. There is a Mrs. Good who babysat, a Mrs. Anderson, and Linda Christian and Wanda Neucomer and Marlon Fair and Mary Lou Fair.
Dad gets sick with a fever right after they arrive, “feeling punk” “came home & went to bed-feeling punk” The doctor says I have a bad sore throat treated with penicillin and return visits. He gets new glasses when his pair breaks. Oct 52- Felt tough today. Laid down all afternoon w/ headache. Oct 30- I’ve been having light dizziness for 2 weeks (probably beginning Meniere’s). Never got down to office because I felt so rough w/ bad cold.” He also is getting his own battery charged and generator adjusted.
MJ prayers are documented “asking God to teach us to take her to meetings w/ her.”MJ looked beautiful as she came down & talked to us this AM with her blond hair, dark hair, & blue eyes. She makes a desk of chairs to work with dad. Dad describes singing with MJ. Wesley is described as a husky, wiggly guy. . Mark has his room at top of stairs & Wesley next to bathroom. M.J. sleeps on rollaway bed in Marks room but has a bed in Wesley’s room also. Dad slept in MJ bed because Mark came over early in the night and m/d bed too crowded. M.J. does a lot of drawing as ever. Mark is rapidly using more words. W.J. walks quite well. Marci had to “walk out with the two boys” from church for misbehavior. Dad got a rabbit for MJ & fixed a pen by the garage. Back home at 1230 w/ W.J. asleep in Marci’s arms, Mark on back seat & MJ on back floor. MJ was delighted to have me sleep w/ her and Mark (bedroom next to bathroom) (when Hazel took m/d bed) Children are all quiet ” Wesley is running a temperature. MJ is up & delighted that we are home & happy with some halloween candles we brought home. Oct 28 slept in mj bed because Mark made our bed too crowded (he came over early in the night)
Mark continues to have difficulties and has to go to the doctor regularly (probably Babies and Children’s Cleveland). He is still not toilet trained but is talking more. Marci says mark is a “little dickens. In early 1953 he is having a couple seizures in a day and mom increased his dosage of Milontin.
The marriage gets attention “M & I spent the evening reading & talking together.” “Marci looks very nice w/ her new haircut & permanent. “M & I talked a hr. or so. M & I had coffee while I checked my cards. And as a nurse she always was what we called the chief medical officer, and she “broke open the blisters which form on my right foot.” (this btw is an excema we all have, not a fungus). One day “M & I both extremely grouchy.” Oct: They went to a Fellowship costume party and mom wore a Graecian robe and dad wore flying suit, goggles, etc.
Money is a significant problem. He has to go to one of the board members to get his month salary (83$/mo for Chippewah). There is a mounting grocery bill, coal to have delivered, car repairs. The Family continue to contribute and support mom/dad. Some days they would commute back and forth across NE Ohio multiple times in a day from grandma’s, to Seville, to New London. In these years dad begins to have Socratic discussions with grandpa Greemore, mostly about Technocracy, Mom & dad attend a funeral for a young child and then take the flowers to John McKinley’s and Uncle Jim’s graves. In October there is a long discussion with Aunt Hazel that lasts till 1. When family come, there is a musical chair/bed event that happens. Some part of the family shows up every week and/or dad goes to grandma’s for meals when he goes to Oberlin for school. Dad’s sister Ella Jane is beginning to focus on Arizona and California to live.