Even though she’s 95 years old now and graduated from Marysville High School in 1937 (the class had about 50 students so she may be one of the few survivors or the only one, for that matter), her memory is good and Ginny (Virginia) Wilson Gunderman is pleased to share those memories of early Marysville.
She was born on Dec. 12, 1919, in Fayette County. Her father was a farmer and as a young girl her family moved from there to Springfield and then to Union County, where her father purchased a farm on the Watkins Road. She was the youngest of Wilbur (W.D.) Wilson’s three daughters. Martha and Susan were her two older sisters.
Wilbur loved to travel and he was a fisherman and hunter. Every year he would put his family in the car and they would drive out west, where he could hunt and fish and they could enjoy the scenery.
Soon after they came to the Marysville area, Wilbur built a filling station, which we now call gas stations, right on the site of the abandoned station on the corner of Vine and East Fifth streets. After that he began construction on the large family home right across Vine St. facing on Fifth, which is still there today. Later he built three small rental properties behind the gas station facing on Vine, which are also still there, and opened Wilson Motors at two locations, where he sold Chryslers and Plymouths. One location was on the corner of Walnut and East Fifth streets, site of the former NAPA store. The other one was behind his house.
To say the least, Ginny’s father was an entrepreneur and the Wilson girls had a really good life. They didn’t have to help on the farm or at the gas station or car dealership, but their mother, Faye, put them to work at their tourist home. Ginny tells me now you would call it a bed-and-breakfast, except it was just a room in their own home with no breakfast. There was a sign advertising it in front of the Wilson home facing on Fifth St. Those traveling through Marysville could stop and stay for a night or two. Sometimes traveling salesmen would even stay four or five nights.
When they had guests, the two older girls stayed in their own bedrooms upstairs where a full bath was located, and Ginny vacated her room upstairs and slept downstairs with her parents where there was just a half bath. Four bedrooms were available for rent.
In the 1930s when she was in high school, Ginny did the ironing for the family and the guest sheets. In those days everything was ironed, including underwear, socks and towels! And the beds were changed for guests every day. Susan helped in the kitchen.
Among their well-known guests during the Little Brown Jug event was sulky driver Curly Smart.
During their high school years, as do most teenagers, the Wilson girls began to drive. Few had their own cars, but the Wilson girls were an exception. Since their father had an auto dealership, they always had a car to drive and Ginny remembers it was 50 cents to fill up the tank.
Also, there was no such thing as a drivers license. When you were ready to drive you just did it. She began driving on the farm at about 14 years old and as soon as her parents thought she was ready, which was just a short time later, she was on the road driving the car still at 14.
Ginny was a tiny little thing, so she had to sit on a pillow which made it even more interesting to drive a stick shift. She is quick to point out that there weren’t that many cars on the road in those days and Marysville was a small community.
Between her junior and senior year in high school, Ginny entered the big contest – the competition for Miss Marysville. Her mother made her dress and she remembers it was pink with silver threading. She represented the A&P grocery store in the contest. She won and received a trophy and her picture in the newspaper, but explained there was no big celebration, dance or parade, as we would have today. But the honor was still hers.
Next week, more about Ginny Gunderman and her life with her husband, Ed.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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