I was seated in the parlor at the Seneca County Commission on Aging when into the room came a petite ray of sunshine with a silver halo pushing a walker. The twinkle in her eyes tell me there might be a bit of the pixie in this gal’s personality. Her movement tells me she must have danced to the music of Benny Goodman. She has completed many trips around the sun. Her name is Louise McGee.
I spoke for a delightful hour or so with this wise silver-haired gal. I was trying to learn the secret of her sunshine personality. Her background was of a hard working farm girl. Louise talked of working in the fields side by side with her Dad. Louise worked most of her adult life and raised four fine children, two boys and two girls. Today three live in Ohio and one daughter lives in Oklahoma.
Louise talked with respect about her first husband and his time in WWII. Louise even worked in the military laundry for a short while, during the time she was saying farewell to her “Man” before he left for the war, “Flying over the hump.”. Louise also worked in the Tiffin Glass House during the war. She was a sandblaster.
Many will remember Louise as the “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” at Melmore School. Louise McGee was asked to take over feeding 250 hungry young folks daily lunch. The kitchen was basically an overgrown home kitchen. “We even washed the dishes by hand back then.” Louise went to work making her mark in the minds and souls of many folks. I was told by one special lady that fifty years ago Louise McGee had taught her to love Salmon loaf with creamed peas. Louise tells that shortly after she retired from the school, “These big strong men would come up to me in the grocery store and give me a hug. They always asked if I could come back and cook for their children and grandchildren.”
When I asked her secret formula for being a profitable cafeteria manager, Louise McGee replied with a smile and a twinkle of the eye…”Treat the kids like they were your own. Vary the menue week by week. Bake pie or cake occasionally. Spend money like it was coming from your own pocketbook.”
Louise speaks with a special love for her second husband. They walked the path of destiny together for 41 years. I watched her eyes when she talked of him and his trials with COPD. I watched the pride in her body English when she talked of the patriotism of her Veteran husband and partner. Louise not only had a spouse that fought for our country but a son that served in Korea. Here is a Mom that served through the pain and the tears without putting on a uniform.
Louise is not the type person to “brag” about herself. She kind of reminds me of the fella Walter Brenan played in the old westerns…”No brag just fact.” When I asked about her grandchildren she got that sparkle in her eyes that I’ve learned is pride mixed with love in a special manner. The only story I remember was about one grandchild who works in Toledo. He is soon going to Oklahoma to visit his Mom, he’s taking Grandma with him… I’m not sure who will have more fun…I wish I could join them.
Today Louise lives with one of her sons and his bride on their farm. She has been challenged with some health issues but still tries to do her part. I hear the pride as she speaks of peeling the fruit or pitting the cherries for canning. “I can do that sitting down” Louise McGee is the example of that old saying “I’m not the person I used to be but with God’s help I’m still a useful person.”
Louise McGee is a unique, spunky, and happy gal that I’m proud to say I met today. Her special smile has brought sunshine into my soul for one more day. I’m hoping 40 years from now I can have her spunk, determination, and zest for life. I did find out some of Louise McGee’s secrets for a happy life. I would like to share these simple, honest concepts with you. Work hard as you can. Share what you can. Be grateful for what God has given you. Smile, they are catching.
Thank You Louise McGee for your examples of how to live life to the fullest. The folks that you’ve fed over the years thank you for the Salmon Loaf, Cherry Pies, Chocolate Cakes, and all the great smiles that came with them. Louise McGee,you are a blessing to all that know you. Now about that Salmon Loaf recipe… Mizpah ;-}}>