Though they may be new to the community, Oakmont Sterling Enhanced residents Anthony and Vera have quickly become familiar faces. You’ll often find them enthusiastically enjoying activities, boarding the bus for trips about town, and interacting with their favorite staff members who they now consider new friends. But the road to Oakmont wasn’t always an easy one for the couple, who were both born in Michigan during the Great Depression.
Paths Cross in the Motor City
Anthony, born and raised on the East Side of Detroit, has early memories of the economic hardship brought on by the Great Depression. “We came up the hard way, her and I,” Anthony says gesturing to his wife. “Our parents had no money at all. My dad died at 36 years old, and we had to take in 13 boarders just to survive the depression.”
Life for a young Vera, growing up just outside of Mt. Pleasant on a farm in Isabella, was a little bit easier. “I had it a little easier than he did,” she said, referring to Anthony. “My dad had a good job as a foreman at Briggs, so we had it a little bit easier. His job is what brought us to Detroit.”
Though they came from hours away, their paths would soon cross at the Hudson Motor Car Company – where they both worked during the war. When the company went bankrupt soon after the war ended, Anthony got a job working for Frito Lay, where he lasted for 36 years delivering to many of Detroit’s supermarkets and convenience stores. He was such a skilled worker that he was eventually awarded a very coveted delivery route – right by the couple’s house in the suburbs. “Frito Lay was the best place I ever worked. I never was laid off. I won a couple of awards. For me, the job really hit the right mark.”
Life in St. Clair Shores
Living in St. Clair Shores, Anthony and Vera raised their four children, putting them all through Catholic School with two eventually graduating from college and getting good jobs. Though the couple’s focus at this time was always on the wellbeing of the children, they kept their romance alive by never passing up the opportunity to spend quality time together participating in their favorite hobby: Dancing.
“The best thing we ever did in our lives was take up dancing,” Anthony said. “Every week we’d go ballroom dancing at Greystone, Vanity, Odds and Ends, all different kinds places on the West Side [of Detroit].”
“They used to have a lot of bars where they had dancing at that time too,” Vera added.
“We Thank God Every Day”
Though they’ve only been residents of Oakmont Sterling for a short time, Anthony and Vera have truly made themselves right at home – making new friends, taking advantage of the many trips and activities, and settling into a place where they feel safe. “Coming here has been a very good experience,” Anthony said. “It’s just what we wanted. Good food. Good accommodations. New friendships – what more could a person ask for?” he said, smiling.
“We thank God every day that we found this place.”