Talk to Lucille, the longest-tenured resident at Oakmont Parkway, and there’s a common theme.
“God has blessed me,” she said.
When the time for retirement was reached for Lucille and her husband, John, they were fortunate to do exactly what they wanted: They retired to Houghton Lake for 23 years.
“He liked to hunt and he liked to fish. We even had pheasants and wild turkeys he liked to hunt,” she said. “We had a pontoon boat, which was a pleasure. You could sit down and enjoy it or you could walk around on the boat. We also had friends from down here up in Houghton Lake, so it was very pleasant for us.”
Aside from enjoying the benefits of living in the outdoor playground of northern Michigan, they were active with their church and volunteered with St. Vincent DePaul.
Asking permission to go to the movies
How did Lucille meet John? It was when they were much younger.
“I met him on the street corner!” she joked. “Actually, my husband used to get furious at me when I said that, but I met him at my girlfriend’s house. I was 15 and she lived on the corner. That’s where it came from.
“But we took to each other the first day. I was 15, he was 19. He asked me to go to the movies with him, but I had to check with my mother. She said as long as he’s a nice young man, the age doesn’t matter.”
Making a favorable impression was important then; Lucille believes it’s still important today, too, just as it was to her mother.
“When she met him, she liked him, because he was clean-cut, clean shoes, no blue jeans, slacks and a nice shirt,” Lucille said. “He looked presentable. And, he was gorgeous.”
The start of a family
A year later, they were engaged. John went into the service, joining the Air Force. She missed John, first visiting him when he was stationed at Fort Custer in Battle Creek. Later, when he was sent to Biloxi, Miss., Lucille’s mother — obviously also enamored with John — accompanied her for a week-long visit to see him.
Married at the age of 17, her love for John never waned. She visited him in Boise, Idaho, then followed him to Fresno, Calif., where he was stationed before heading to Italy. It wasn’t long after that the young couple discovered they were pregnant.
But before shipping off, Lucille made sure to have John write his family and tell them they were expecting.
“I didn’t want them to think he left, and then I got pregnant,” she said. “I wanted them to know he knew.”
John’s plans were to be a pilot, but he was in a car accident before he left. That eventually ended his plans to fly for the Air Force. Lucille saw that as a good alternative to the dangers of World War II combat.
“It could have been very scary,” she said. “But actually, we were blessed, because he would fix the planes and out he would go. He came home safely.”
Although John was Polish and Lucy was a mix of French and German, she learned to make all of the Polish classics in the kitchen — pierogis, homemade kielbasa, even kruschiki (a dessert delicacy).
Lucille and John’s marriage produced five children, five grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and several grandsons-in-law. After 66 years of marriage — “not long enough,” she said — John passed away.
She is currently on kidney dialysis, which makes her tired sometimes, but isn’t enough to deter her.
“It takes up my time, but the dialysis is working, though. That’s what I mean, how God is blessing me,” she said. “I’m a happy person. And I like the people here, they are all very nice. That really helps.”