Sunday, May 11, 2008

"School Years: Part III" by Faith L. Robbins

Written by guest blogger, Faith L. (Valk) Robbins (my mother) for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy, "Mom, How'd You Get So Smart?":
Source: Creston High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. C. 1960. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

In September, 1959, I entered Creston High School with a student body of nearly 2000 whereas the student body of Riverside Junior High was less than one-third of its size. Everything seemed very confusing to me and my classes were hard, especially geometry. Beth was in my homeroom only (its duration was a mere few minutes) and soon had another best friend. In spite of that, two great things happened that year: I received all A's in gym class merely for suiting up and fulfilling my quota of showers (I was not athletically inclined), and I joined the school choir led by Frank Goodwin. The rules were strict: among them, three dismissals (for not listening, talking, etc.) and you were counted out for the rest of the semester. But he taught us to believe in ourselves. Number one, you are the best! Number two, if you make a mistake, act as if everything is okay. And three, if someone compliments you and you know you messed up, just say thank you. After all, you don't want to be impolite and contradict them.

My junior year went much better and I started to make new friends. Then came my senior year and it turned out to be awesome! Beginning the summer of 1961, my family and I went camping near Hart, Michigan to a campground named Silver Lake. I met a young handsome man named Bryan Robbins who was out there camping with his family. (The evening we met happened to be my seventeenth birthday). He asked me to go out in his boat with him the next day which I did and then we walked for several hours over the sand dunes getting acquainted. We shared our views on the political scene and world events. He asked for my address that afternoon just before our family headed for home.

My studies went very well that year, thanks to my physiology teacher--and sponsor of the Senior Honor Society--named Evelyn Ostrander who showed movies to us about study habits for a few weeks before we finally settled down to the subject at hand. That year, I finally made the honor roll which made my parents and myself more than happy. Then there were dates with Bryan every so often and his phone calls. He would turn out to be the love of my life and my future husband.

Source: Senior Portrait of Faith L. Valk. Digitally restored photograph. 1961 - 1962. Digital image in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

I graduated number 48 in a class of 360 and made plans to attend Grand Rapids Junior College now called G.R. Community College. I would graduate with an Associate of Arts in 1964 and go on to enter what is now called Cornerstone University for one year. My husband and I were married in June 1965. Therefore is the saga of my school years ended.

Note from Miriam: Although her step-father attended the University of Michigan, my mother was the first generation in either her mother's or her biological father's direct lines to attend college and obtain a degree. As her biological father had an eighth-grade education, she was also the first generation in her father's direct line to attend and graduate from high school.

Both my parents have been--what we call in the education world--life-long learners, and they shared their love of learning with my siblings and me. Our home was always filled with books and music and they set the example for us by always learning new skills. History, art, geography, and science, as well as my heritage and culture, were taught in everyday, ordinary situations. In many ways, they prepared me for my avocation in genealogy.

One of these times, I'll ask my father to be a guest blogger as well. I know you'll enjoy his stories as much as you've enjoyed my mother's.


Colleen said...

What a fabulous idea!

Miriam Robbins said...

Thanks, Colleen!

Anonymous said...

Precious memories! Thanks so much, Miriam, for making them available.

Faith's proud stepbrother, Brian DeVries

Janet Iles said...

Faith, thanks for sharing your memories of your school days. I like the philosophy of your choir leader.

Miriam, it is great that you have your mom's stories and the photographs.

Beth L said...

Hi Faith,
Loks like you remembered the same things I remember. I sent a letter to you in Alaske many years ago and didn't get a reply. (Got the address from your Mom to my Mom) I thought of you many times through the years and would like to reconnect someday - soon. I live in Holland, Michigan now. Thanks for doing this blog. Beth Runnels Durdle (husband - Robert)

Miriam Robbins said...

Hi, Beth,

Thanks so much for leaving a note on my blog! I forwarded it to my mom. I think I found some of your contact information on the Internet (we genealogists are good at locating information!). If you will e-mail me privately at, I will pass on my mom's contact information to you. I'm so excited that you and Mom are connecting again!