Posts Tagged ‘Western Michigan University’

00000001This is the scrapbook which my parents gave to me.  In it my grandmother (Lucille) Edna Mulder (later Edna Zuidweg) recorded the events of her high school graduation from Caledonia High School (Michigan), as well as a few clippings from her first year at Western Normal School in Kalamazoo.

In 1929, my grandmother graduated a year early, at age seventeen, along with her older sister Dorothy Mulder (later Dorothy Plott).  Grandma earned the 3rd highest GPA at 93.85% and thus was honored with the title “class historian.” Her sister was salutatorian. Grandma’s best friend Blanche Stauffer was valedictorian. Clearly, grades were not inflated in those days at Caledonia High School.

Grandma was the 2nd oldest girl in her family of three girls and two boys. When I was young and reading my mother’s copy of Little Women, Grandma told me she always thought that she was just like Jo, the 2nd oldest and the writer of the family.  Her sister Dorothy was Meg, and her younger sister Alvena (called Vena, later Vena Stimson) was Amy.  It makes sense to me that “Jo” would have been placed a year ahead so she could go to school with “Meg,” and that she would earn class historian to her sister’s salutatorian.


Dorothy Mulder’s Salutatory (beginning portion)

Edna Mulder’s high school transcript

Edna Mulder’s class history (beginning portion)

The scrapbook contains wonderful photos of Grandma, her friends, classmates, and teachers, but it doesn’t solve the mystery of who put that drinking glass ring on the cover.

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My grandmother, (Lucille) Edna Mulder Zuidweg, graduated from Western Normal School and accepted a job as a teacher in Kent County for the 1931-32 school year.

1931-32 Teacher Contract

1931-32 Teacher Contract

This contract, pictured above, shows that she was hired on at a salary of Xxxty-five dollars per month.  That’s right:  Xxx because that portion of the paper document has worn away over the years.  Any guesses how much her salary was?  $25?  $45?  $65? $85?  It doesn’t look like it was over a hundred.  I found a list of salaries in Johnson County, Kentucky, for the same year.

According to these salaries, it’s likely that, as a new teacher, my grandmother could have been hired in at $75 or $85 per month.  If anybody has a better idea of salaries in rural Michigan at that time, I’d love to hear it.

When my grandmother started her teaching job, she had already been dating my grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg.  They married at the end of the school year, on May 21, 1932, in South Bend, Indiana.

Adrian Zuidweg and Edna Mulder1930

Adrian Zuidweg and Edna Mulder

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Western Michigan University was created in 1903 as the 4th teacher training school in Michigan.  It was known as Western State Normal School and offered a two-year training program.  In 1927, the school’s name was changed to Western State Teachers College.  During that period, my grandmother Lucille Edna Mulder (born 1912) moved from her parents’ farm in Caledonia to Kalamazoo to attend college.  She rented a room from the Schensul family. They owned the most memorable restaurant of my childhood: Schensul’s Cafeteria in downtown Kalamazoo, which served the best fried chicken and orange pop on the planet.

Grandma’s alma mater became Western Michigan College of Education in 1941. During that period, my parents both attended college there.  My father, Rudy Hanson, an army veteran, went to school on the GI bill and, there, he met my mother, Janet Zuidweg.

In 1957, Western became the 4th public university in the state.  In 1960, when I was five, I sat at my Aunt Alice’s knees and watched her color code drawings for science classes she took at Western. Then I attended Western as an undergraduate from 1973-1977, and so did my husband.  During the time I was a student, my mother whose college career had been interrupted by a case of mono and then a case of marriage, completed her education and graduated a year ahead of me.  A few years later, my brother graduated from Western. Then I went back and earned two graduate degrees.

OK, Mom, let me know if I got any facts wrong :).  If you have more info on other relatives who went to Western, I’ll add them here.

The postcard image above was given to my mother’s great aunt’s husband, Louis Leeuwenhoek, by Johnson Paper Supply as a credit slip.  See image below.


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