Her story began 100 years ago. Avis Hudson was born Aug. 14, 1917. She lived in the little village of 0riville located near Watkins, just outside Marysville. At that time there were two churches, a school and a few houses.
She was the youngest of six children in the Lake family. Her father, Jay, was originally from Ohio, but her mother, Nancy, was from Kansas. I was surprised at how they met.
Avis explained that her father was being raised by an uncle and was very unhappy, so one day he joined a wagon train and went west. It was truly a different time. When he saw Kansas, he got off and stayed there. While growing up there he met his future wife.
She had an interesting upbringing. The Potawatomi Indian reservation was literally right next to her house and the Indian chief would come over regularly for dinner. It was a friendly situation and she learned much from the Indians about medicine. Avis said throughout her life her mother would often try Indian remedies.
When her mother’s brother was young, he became seriously ill after stepping on a rusty nail. The family credits the Indian chief with saving his life by applying a moss to his foot that was gathered in the woods.
Avis’s father, who had fought in the Spanish-American War, died when she was only about three years old and so her mother had six children to care for, and learned to assist local doctors near Marysville in delivering babies. Sometimes, for her job, she would be gone for two to three days and the children were on their own. Avis said many times her mother did the baby deliveries herself. In fact her mother delivered Avis’s daughter, her own granddaughter, while the doctor sat in the dining room playing cards.
Her mother also had to be the strong disciplinarian to keep everyone in line. One day the neighbors came over and told her that her sons had stolen melons out of their garden. The boys vehemently denied it, but Nancy was sure they had committed the crime and so she punished them both with stern swats.
Times were different then and that was the usual punishment. The boys suffered greatly for this, but just a few days later the accuser came to her and said he had made a mistake and the boys were innocent. Too late – the punishment had been administered. Avis thinks maybe her brothers, on another occasion, had stolen melons from that guy’s farm, so they probably deserved it.
Avis graduated from high school in Watkins where the entire school system was in one building – kindergarten through 12th grade. There were five people in her graduating class, and at 100 years old, she is the last one left.
After graduation, she went to work in Delaware for awhile and wanted to attend Bliss College in Columbus. She was unable to get the money together to go, but then she met Bill Hudson through her brother and her life changed. They dated several years and finally married in 1937. They eventually had three children, two sons and a daughter (now deceased), and Avis decided to go to work.
When Walgamot’s Pharmacy in downtown Marysville added a fountain for food service in 1949, Avis went to work there. In fact, that pharmacy later became known as Walgamot and Orahood, then Orahood and McCarthy and finally McCarthy Pharmacy closing in 1998, and she served all those owners. She did everything from working in the retail area to delivering prescriptions on her way home. She retired from that job after 49 years. When the pharmacy closed, she was done. She was about 81 years old.
The pharmacy days were busy and in the early years, Avis had the responsibility for the fountain where they served sweet rolls, and coffee, and it was the place to gather in the morning in Marysville. She remembers the counter would be filled with all kinds of people, including doctors, lawyers and the people who ran Fisher Brass, later known as Eljers. It was the same people every day. The regulars knew her name and felt comfortable discussing whatever their business interests were while they sat there at the counter. All the news of the town was discussed there every day.
Coffee was only five cents a cup when the drugstore opened and when it closed it was the same price. For many years students from Marysville High School, located two blocks away on Sixth Street were able to eat lunch there. They would come downtown to the drugstore and order cokes and sweet rolls and then rush back to school.
Avis was extremely handy in the fountain department. In fact, she could fix all of the important equipment like the coffee urn, ice machine and fountain. She says she was the only one who could do it, and even while on vacation, she would be called for help on repairs.
One of her favorite stories while working at the drugstore involves the display of a wheelchair, walker, a cane and a child’s potty chair, all sitting in one area together. A mother and her young son were in the store and while the mother was busy shopping, the little boy crept away from her. He must’ve had an urgent need and saw the potty chair. Knowing what it was for, he used it. The mother was mortified, but after all, it was better than having an accident. There was, however, a restroom available to the public in the drugstore. No matter what the situation, she loved her job and the families she worked for. That’s obvious since she stayed for so many years.
Her husband Bill died in 1974 and Avis continued to work. Their three children gave them seven grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren, one of whom is just starting pharmacy school at Ohio Northern University.
Near the end of her working days, she did fall off her front porch and break both wrists at the same time. Her family offered to cook for her or help in any way, but she insisted she could manage! However she couldn’t drive or work during that time.
After Avis retired, she enjoyed her big garden and fruit trees, which provided food for cooking and baking for her family. Now, gone from her big home in the country for about 10 years, she lives in Windsor Manor in a very comfortable one-bedroom apartment, where her family visits regularly. Her health is really good, except for her vision. She can no longer read a book a week. Since it’s so hard to see now, she cooks mostly with her microwave, enjoys the sounds of TV using a control with large buttons and occasionally listens to a recorded book.
I suggested that maybe she lived to be 100 because she was so tough and she replied, “No, I’m bullheaded!” Finally she said, “I have no complaints, life is good!”
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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