By DAVID GREEN
From nigh on until nobody knows.
That’s about how long Grace Boyd has lived in her cozy farm house southwest of Morenci.
It’s a phrase Grace uses to describe something that happened long ago, and as she approaches her 100th birthday next week, those words probably apply to her, as well. Oct. 24, 1906, is a long time ago.
Finally, it becomes obvious: Family has been a big part of her life, and she’s proud of that growing group of people.
“I have a very decent, honorable family,” she says. “We came up decent people.”
Grace Taylor was born on a farm near Britton, Mich., and lived there until she was 12 years old. After that her family moved into the village.
“We went from lamps to electricity then,” she said.
She and Donald were married at her parents’ home in 1927.
“We were two people who needed a farm,” Grace said. “We wanted a place to live.”
She describes Donald’s father as a professional agricultural man who had worked for the University of Illinois before the family moved to Michigan. He knew how to locate farm property. You simply visited the offices at the grain elevators in the area. That’s where you got the information you needed.
At the Whiteville Elevator near Metamora, they learned about the property near Morenci on Fulton County Road T. A visit was made, the owner was contacted, and the farm was purchased.
“We did get a nice location,” Grace said. “Donald and I just took it upon ourselves to come here and people have been trying to buy it from us ever since.”
The house was built in 1925 after the original structure burned. The barn, on the other hand, left something to be desired.
“The cement floor was poorly made,” she said. “They went to the crick to get the sand. That barn needed work.”
It served the young couple for many years until Donald gave up farming and was hired in the engineering department of Kewaunee Scientific Corporation in Adrian. He worked there until he retired.
Grace had deep roots in Lenawee County and Donald’s family was from Illinois. When they moved to the farm, the Boyds felt like strangers and many people treated them that way—until some acquaintances made a suggestion.
“They said the best thing for you to do would be to join the Grange, and it was,” Grace said. “We learned about the people and the stores and the community. I would have never known these people if I hadn’t gone to Grange. It widened our circle. It was the best thing for a new couple.”
Fifty to a hundred people typically showed up for meetings. When Donald interviewed for his job at Kewaunee, he made an instant connection with the interviewer who had just visited the Morenci Grange the week before. Donald believed that’s how he got the job.
Eventually, the Boyds became established at Morenci’s First Congregational Church and that also proved to be a source of many good friendships.
You might say Grace had developed a good friendship with electricity when she lived in Britton and she lost that friend when they moved to the farm.
“We had a Delco plant for lights, a sweeper and some tools,” Grace remembers.
A Delco plant was a gas-powered generator that charged batteries and provided a limited amount of power. But one Sunday morning, two men were taking measurements in the yard and Donald learned they were from Toledo Edison. The company had lines in Morenci, but they had to leave the town due to new state regulations. They turned to developing rural networks, instead, and the Boyds soon had power once again.
That’s just one of the many changes Grace has witnessed in her century of living. Now she’s witnessing many changes in herself.
Grace says she’s been driving a car since before she was old enough, but when she turned 96 she decided on her own that she wouldn’t renew her license. That makes her much more dependent on others.
Her sight isn’t what it used to be—she reads with great difficulty—and hearing is a challenge, too. She finds those losses to be rather annoying, but as she says, “You just live with what you’ve got.”
She’s still making do alone, as she has for the past 16 years since Donald died.
“This is my headquarters,” Grace says while seated at her table.
There’s a reading light and writing equipment, and a telephone is nearby. The table displays photos of family members and holds letters from friends and relatives. Around her neck is a small emergency alert system. One press of the button sends for help, but she still hasn’t had to use it.
“I don’t have many friends left,” Grace said. “I just have memories.”
From nigh on until nobody knows, she’ll have no shortage of good memories.
• A 100th birthday party is planned from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Morenci’s First Congregational Church. All of Grace’s acquaintances are invited to attend. She requests no gifts, just a visit.- Oct. 18, 2006