Karen Elizabeth Grover
By Dorrell (Walter) Boles
(Note: The following is from letters written to Karenís niece Katie Quanz and her daughter Dawn Grover. It is a wonderful view of the lives of Harry and Betty, Ken and Karen written by Harryís cousin Dorrell (Walter) Boles.)
Katie / Dawn:
You wanted to know about your grandparents (Harry and Betty) wedding. When we spoke that Friday, I was flashing the mind back almost 70 years, and got a bit mixed up in weddings. The first wedding I was flower girl for was 1939 at Wes and Marie (nee Opfer) Walterís wedding at Listowel. Harry Quanz was the Best Man at their wedding. I was about 5 years old then, and that was the wedding dinner that someone gave me a stool to sit on. I was too short for a regular chair. The meal was served at the Brideís home.
Now for information on Harry and Bettyís wedding as best I can remember. As you may know I love my cousins, but Harry was my favourite 1st. cousin many years ago and that never changed. His family has always been special to me. It was a great honour to be asked to be a flower girl at their wedding. We had met Betty at several family gatherings and we all liked her immediately. Harry and Betty were a special couple, and so in love you could sense romance in the air when you were near them (a handsome couple).
Thinking back, life seemed to be different then. There were fewer distractions, one theatre, baseball game now and then, or a dance, bridal or baby shower, and occasional church function besides church on Sunday morning. Choir practice or "Young Peoples" meetings were the social event of the week. Of course weíd pile in cars and go to town for a coke and/or a hot dog. Life was simple then. The word stress was never mentioned, and people took time to enjoy each otherís company. They helped each other in any way they could. The top hit songs were love songs, some of which Iíll list to give you some idea what it was like.
It Had To Be You.
The Object Of My Affection
Sweet Georgia Brown
If I Could Be With You
I Only Have Eyes For You Dear
Oh You Beautiful Doll
If You Were The Only Girl In The World
Does Your Heart Beat For Me?
Iím Getting Sentimental Over You.
I Canít Give You Anything But Love Baby
I Donít Know Why I Love You Like I Do
Once In A While
You Were Meant For Me.
You Belong To My Heart
You And Your Beautiful Eyes
Good Night Sweetheart
(A song had a message of love.)
People for the most part treated each other with respect, trust, loyalty and friendship were important and flourished. You always aimed to do your best and be helpful and get along with kinfolk or people at work etc. Women were not urged to seek a lifetime career. It was accepted that she could work a few years before marriage in order to fill her hope chest and save for things for her home someday.
World War II had started in Europe, which seemed so far away from Canada that we felt a little removed from the fighting at that time. Canada did support England to a degree but we didnít expect the war would last so long. The enemy was more powerful than anticipated. Young men did join the armed forces and were sent overseas to fight the war. There were parties for the servicemen and young ladies, they enjoyed dancing and singing. There were training bases in areas across Canada and young men were exposed to rigorous training programs before being sent to the front lines.
I tell you about all of this to give you some background as to what life was like in the early 1940ís. Young couples who were dating steadily were smiled on, as people waited for the big announcement of the wedding date. You can imagine children waiting anxiously now, for a holiday at Canadaís Wonderland to ride the roller coaster etc. Well we waited anxiously for the Wedding day, when the lucky couple would unite on the roller coaster of life, Ö so much excitement and such joy.
1941 Ė The weeks before Harry and Bettyís wedding were a planning time. What to wear and what to buy etc. Betty told Mom and I that my pink taffeta flower girl dress (I wore 2 years earlier) would be fine. However in 2 years, I was 7 years old now, I had grown a bit and the dress was too short. Mom took me and the dress to a dressmaker to wonders on alterations. The result Ė it helped but my shoes still showed at the bottom. That wasnít the only embarrassment. Two days before the wedding I lost my front tooth. My Mom instructed me to keep my mouth shut so the gap wouldnít show. Itís hard to look good by keeping your mouth closed and smiling. Parent love was conditional in those days, so I obeyed. Hence Iím not smiling on the wedding pictures and I felt badly about that.
Prior to the wedding day, Mrs. Zurbrigg held a Trousseau Tea Party for Betty. The Zurbriggs lived above their grocery store on Main Street Palmerston. To visit them you entered the front door to the store, walked to the back and up a flight of stairs to their living quarters. Stores usually closed at 6 P.M. Monday to Saturday. The Tea was held from 7 P.M, to 9 P.M. one evening. Mom and I arrived and found a room full of well dressed ladies enjoying tea and the daintiest sandwiches you could ever imagine. This was our first visit here, and everyone was friendly. A lace cloth covered a table to the side of the room. On the table was a bouquet of flowers, candles, a silver tea service, fancy plates with tea sandwiches, and a couple 3-tiered plates of fancy tea cakes and squares. The display of food was like a work of art. I sat in awe, as we had nothing this fancy in our home. Yes, I was on my best behavior lest I spill something and embarrass the family right into next year. Betty looked so lovely and happy that evening, and everyone wanted her attention. She was the star of this show and we all loved her. There was a little girl wandering among the ladies, her name was Kay. Kay was about 3 years old and in a little while someone decided it was bedtime for Kay. So I didnít get to play with her. Kay wasnít too happy about having to leave the party but the promise of a bedtime story made things okay. We also met Bettyís bridesmaid, another lovely lady named Evelyn Welsh. Kay is Bettyís little sister.
The evening before the big day was rehearsal time at the United Church in Palmerston. The bridal party and the families arrived on-time to go through the formalities so everything would proceed smoothly the next day. There were several people there decorating the church alter with flowers and greenery. They discussed the decoration plans with Betty. This surely would look wonderful tomorrow. After the rehearsal the Bride and Groom gave gifts to the attendants. They gave me a gold bracelet for being their flower girl. I was so surprised, and thrilled, as I didnít expect anything. It was such an honour to be a part of all this.
The Wedding Day arrived. We girls would all get dressed at Zurbrigg's place. Mom helped me get ready in the pink dress, and fixed the artificial flowers in my hair. The bracelet on my arm made me feel special. Then calamity hit. Bettyís knee-length slip was too short and it showed through the dress material. She needed a floor-length slip. Evelyn had a floor-length slip and all looked fine. Mrs. Zurbrigg was on the phone calling somewhere for help. I donít know how this was solved as Mom and I were in another room, but a floor-length slip appeared somehow and Betty proceeded to get dressed. Someone called ďItís time to leave for the churchĒ, and we all scurried to the cars with our bouquets of flowers. Evelyn had the loveliest pale blue dress that hung in folds right to the floor. There was some sort of silver belt around her waist that gave the dress an elegant touch. Betty was a beautiful bride in the floor length white satin wedding gown. The veil headpiece was in the shape of a heart that matched the sweetheart neckline of the dress. The floor-length veil was edged in lace too. In those days the ultimate of a wedding dress was a sweetheart neckline white satin dress and Betty had it. I think the Brideís parents were very proud of her, as were the groomís parents of Harry, for he was a handsome young man. The ceremony began and we proceeded to walk to the front of the church. After the ceremony we went outside and a few had cameras to take pictures, but we didnít stay long as the photographer was booked in Listowel. Milton Bender was the Best Man and driver of the wedding car. He tried to get a parking spot on Main Street in Listowel near the Russell Studio, but none was available. So we parked a few stores away and walked up Main Street to the photographer. Everyone on the street stopped and gaped at us; some smiled and called Best Wished to the Bride and Groom. It was a treat for them to see the bridal party. Thinking about this wedding day brings so much back to mind, like it was just a short time ago. It was such an important day, and I surely wanted to do my part well to make everyone happy.
Harry and Betty lived in Fort Erie in what was referred to as a war time house. This was a certain style of house built in the war years. No big brick estates then. Our family enjoyed a visit at their home about a year later. Harry enlisted in the R.C.A.F. I believe he trained as a rear gunner.
Harry in his uniform, Water, Fred and Veronica
Harry secured an apartment in a house in Palmerston and Betty moved there to be near her family while Harry was a training camp. News spread around that they were expecting their first child. The cousins were invited to submit names for the new baby with the parents having the final choice. Karen Elizabeth was born December 11, 1943 at Palmerston Hospital. We couldnít wait to see this bundle of love. Karen was indeed a beautiful baby, and we were so happy for them.
An apprehensive Karen
(Note: The story related by Walter was that this rooster had taken a dislike to Karen and would chase her if she got too near. The rooster chased no-one else.)
The Quanz family moved to Kitchener. They may have had an apartment for a period of time. I do remember visits to their home at 299 Park Street, Kitchener. Karen was not quite three when her brother Kenneth Laverne Quanz was born at Kitchener Hospital. A new family member to celebrate, and what a good looking little boy he was.
Usually we would have family gatherings at Grandpa & Grandma Walterís home corner of York & Blake Street in Listowel. This would take place in winter or summer. Uncle Fredís (Fred & Frona Quanz) moved in with them I believe in 1950ís. Karen & I were the only young girls so we stuck together. Mostly Ken would join us and since there werenít toys around we made our own fun. Eventually Walterís had john, and the boys hung around together. Grandma (Annie Walter) would make homemade candy, some of which was made with puffed rice. That was our favourite candy but we also liked the fruit Grandpa (Henry Walter) liked to pass around. Years passed and we all grew up, went to work, moved or got married. Though we said goodbye to some family members, it is still great to get together with those of us who are around still. We thank God for the people He has put in our lives, we have enjoyed special times and learned much. If we could weave the dark times and the bright times into a picture, it would be a beautiful work of art. Itís called living Ė enjoy your life!
The Quanz Family - Walter & Ruby, Karen, Fred holding Ken, Betty & Harry
Veronica, Ken, Karen and Fred Quanz
Years went by and the families visited occasionally. I had finally earned enough money to attend Business College in Kitchener graduating in 1954. I worked at an Insurance company and spent weekends helping my parents on the farm. Life was more work than fun, until I stayed in Kitchener one week-end and went out with a group of young people. It was good to have friends around. Not having a car meant I did not miss out on many family events. When Ken and I got married Harry consented to be our Master of Ceremonies at the dinner. We were so pleased he did this and he did a super job of it too. We had an evening reception at Three Bridges, outside of St. Jacobs and we were glad Karen and her boyfriend could join us.
Then in 1964 Karen and Al got married. I donít remember their names, but some friends of Alís, from the west, came for the wedding. They needed a place to stay so we had them stay with us for a couple of days. Harryís tried to put the western people in homes of relatives, and we had a fine time visiting. It was a happy occasion.
It was a lovely wedding and Karen was a beautiful bride. Her headpiece was set on a special hair-do and the result looked marvelous. The reception was at St. Agatha, a delicious dinner followed by dancing. I was very pregnant then with our first son, so didnít over do it too much. Our camera didnít work properly so we didnít get pictures.
Al was in the Air Force then, and they lived in Clinton for a time. Karen and Al moved to Prince George, British Columbia, a long way from here. We did correspond a bit but didnít see each other for a long time.
When we had our second son, Karen made two little blue jackets from flannelette, and mailed them to us. I was so surprised and didnít know she was so talented. That was so thoughtful of her and I cherished them. Eventually Karen and Al had children Ė Lee and Dawn. The families were so happy for them. We of course didnít know there were problems. The one day we heard Karen and the children returned to live with Harryís in Waterloo. This may have been around 1971? One day Harry took Karen to see a lawyer. Betty was at work so they let the children stay with me and my two little guys. This was the first time I saw Lee and Dawn, and they were lovely children. Dawn was a sweet little two-year old and not wanting her to feel strange at our house, I carried her around with me a lot. I loved those children. We all had lunch together at our house then everyone departed. It was nice being able to contact Karen by phone and we enjoyed many conversations, though few visits. I felt sorry for Karen, as she had the duty of supporting and caring for her children by herself. She did a good job and we told Karen so, and added we were proud of her accomplishments.
Karen did move into an apartment complex, and the family seemed to be doing okay. Then one day I phoned Karen and she was very down. Perhaps this was the first Christmas alone and things were tough. After the conversation ended, I phoned a florist and asked them to send a poinsettia plant to Karen, but donít put my name on it. Just sign it from a friend. Karen called me several days later and happened to mentioned that she was feeling better. That was good news. She went on to say that a poinsettia plant had been delivered to her and it picked her spirits up so much. It was the only thing in the apartment that looked like Christmas and it made her so happy. She was concerned because she didnít know who to thank. I said she shouldnít worry about that, obviously the sender didnít want to be identified or theyíd have signed a card, so she should just enjoy it and thank God for it. I donít think she ever guessed who sent it, but it was money well spent.
Karen and I got to share many concerns and situations in life, also some recipes and jokes. We could sense how we felt and could cheer each other up or just be a listening board. Things never went beyond us, and that trust was important to us. It was good to laugh with someone, otherwise people would think we were nuts. Mostly we visited by phone as we were busy with family and working. Lee and Dawn grew up. Lee got married and then Dawn did too. Dawn you were a beautiful bride. I was also very proud of Karen. She looked gorgeous in her attire that day too. Dawn, I hope you donít mind me rambling on like this; memories are so precious to me. Karen was celebrating her 50th birthday; we took a bottle over and toasted the occasion. I figured the bottle could be used for a vase or something later on. Ha ha.
Later you three moved to the house on Weber Street; that sounded like a good plan. We stall had time to call each other. The last phone call Karen and I had was interesting, as we talked about many things. The conversation got around to someone we knew who had been lying in bed in a nursing home for a few years. Karen said she hoped when her time came, that she would go quickly and not have to lay around in bed for ages. I agreed that Iíd prefer that way too and said that would be my graduation day to a wonderful place with no worries and no pain. I believe Karenís soul is with the Lord enjoying peace, love and all the Best. While we miss her we are so thankful she was a part of our life for a while. Dawn, you too are very dear to me, and I am so proud of you. You are made of good stuff, God loves you and so do I. We experience many things in life, emotions take time to heal. I have a feeling good things are going to come your way and you deserve them. Itís good to expect something good to happen. Do keep in touch and though you are busy we hope you can drop around and visit. Whatever the season of life, attitude makes all the difference.
Just gotta end this epistle with this Ö..
If My Body Were a Car
If my body were a car this is the time I would be thinking about trading it in for a newer model. Iíve got bumps and dents and scratches in my finish, and my paint job is getting a little dull Ö but thatís not the worst of it. My headlights are out of focus and itís especially hard to see things up close. My traction is not as graceful as it once was. I slip and slide and skid and bump into things even in the best of weather. My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins. It takes me hours to reach my maximum speed. My fuel rate burn inefficiently. But hereís the worst of it Ė almost every time I sneeze, cough or sputter Ö either my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires!
Have a Great Day.
KAREN ELIZABETH GROVER
- It is with deep sadness, that the family of Karen Grover announces her passing