Lorraine Keson to celebrate 100 years later this month.

March 8, 2020

Lorraine Keson to celebrate 100 years later this month.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: MC History Spotlight is a regular history column brought to you by Ludington Woods Assisted Living and Memory Care. This regular column features a story from our county’s past. Today, we feature the story of Lorraine Keson, a resident of Ludington Woods, who turns 100 on March 20.

LUDINGTON – Most people alive today cannot say that they have lived through 18 presidents in office, but 99-year-old Lorraine Keson can. Born on March 20, 1920 to Adele (Tauch) and L. Dow Johnson, Keson will soon be celebrating her 100th birthday. Keson was brought into this world at home in Fountain. She remembered that her parents told her that the doctor came out to her house in a horse and buggy to deliver her at home. Her mother was originally from Germany and came over at the age of 16 and her father grew up in Onekama. Her maternal uncle, Henry Tauch came to the United States first and then sponsored his sister, Adele, to come over and then rest of his family.

Keson attended school in Fountain through the ninth grade and then transferred to Scottville High School (now Mason County Central) for one year before transferring again, this time to finish her high school years at Ludington High School.

“I always remember thinking I wasn’t dressed as nice as the other kids,” she said. “My mom would sew my clothes. I didn’t have store bought clothing, but I do remember thinking I had nicer clothes than some of the other kids. My mother was a very good seamstress.”

In order to attend Ludington High School, Lorraine had to move away from her parents in Fountain.

“I lived with the Alkema family in Ludington,” she said. “Fred and Ruth (Alkema) lived on William Street and then moved to their home on Filer Street. I was 17-years-old and I took care of their children, Bud and, then their daughter, Nancy, in order to stay with them in Ludington.”

Graduating in 1938, Keson continued to take care of the children until she met Walter Keson and got married in 1941 at the Community Church in Ludington.

“Ruth and Fred stood up at my wedding,” she said. “We became really good friends, best friends really.”

Walter worked for Kimball’s Taxi in Ludington and in 1967, he worked as a custodian at Ludington High School. He then worked for two years part time as a custodian at the Community Church before fully retiring. Lorraine worked a few different jobs, but she remembers her job at the Ben Franklin store on Ludington Avenue in Ludington a lot.

“I worked the candy counter,” she said. “I worked there until I left in 1967 and then I stayed home.”

Walter and Lorraine had three children, Michael in 1942; Tom in 1945; and Mary in 1947. 

The family didn’t have a lot of money, but Lorraine never thought that they were poor. Lorraine remembered that she had to use ration cards when she children were young because of World War II.

“We’d use them to buy sugar and gas and other things,” she said. “We had to learn how to stretch everything out, so we had it. If we watched what we were doing, we’d be OK, unless someone had a birthday, then we might have run out of sugar. I didn’t let anyone go without getting a birthday cake.”

They enjoyed taking walks around town together, along with going to the “jetties” near “First Curve” at the Ludington State Park and taking wonderful picnic lunches to the beach or the State Park.

“My mom would pack really good picnic lunches,” Mary stated. “We would have fried chicken and we would bring food in crocks and I can remember my dad would even perk coffee at the beach. Back then we could have campfires on the beach.”

Mary also remembered her mother making them sit an hour after they ate before they could re-enter the water.

“I think she thought we’d get cramps,” she said. “I think she thought that may kill us. It’s what I grew up knowing and believing.”

The Kesons bought a home located at 319 N. Rowe St. in 1951 and it was the home Lorraine lived in until 2000, when she moved into an apartment at Sherman Oaks. She was 80-years-old when she finally decided to sell her home she had spent so much time in.

“The neighborhood kids would come over a lot,” she said. “We had two old apple trees in the backyard, and I called them the ‘monkey trees’ because the kids would always be out there climbing in them. We didn’t cut them down because the kids liked them.”

Mary and Lorraine remembered a certain funny story about her brothers while growing up. They said that Michael painted Tom’s shoes one time with brown paint.

“We always saw our dad polishing his nice shoes,” Mary said. “We had two pairs of shoes, one for dress and one for play.”

“Michael found brown paint that exactly matched his shoes,” Lorraine said. “He was so happy to show me them and I was about ready to give him away. Shoes were rationed, so he had to wait to get another pair. I made him wear them until then. My husband cleaned them up as best as he could.”

Mary said she just remembers her parents trying to keep things as normal as possible even though they didn’t have a lot of money, like going for walks for exercise and walking down to Park Dairy (now House of Flavors) for ice cream.

“I never felt like we couldn’t have things,” she said. “I never saw us as poor.”

Lorraine’s husband, Walter passed away in 1977 and she remained in their home on Rowe Street until 2000.

“After my husband passed, I did some traveling with the American Tour Club,” she said. “I’ve been to Europe three times and to Hawaii.”

Lorraine left Sherman Oaks in November 2018, where she was still living independently and moved into Ludington Woods Assisted Living and Memory Care.

“There’s nothing I don’t like about living at Ludington Woods,” she said. “I’m very fortunate to have my family all living around me. They come and see me frequently.

With five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, Lorraine is lucky enough to have a nice rotation of visitors she shares her stories and life with. She said through her almost 100 years of life, technology changes have been probably the biggest thing for her.

“We didn’t have a car growing up,” she said. “We had a horse and buggy to go places. I would help my mother wash clothes with a ringer washer.”

Between visitors, Lorraine enjoys reading a lot, along with attending the different events at Ludington Woods, especially the crafts. Her family plans on celebrating her 100th birthday with her and she is looking forward to seeing everyone.

“I don’t feel 99, I can tell you that,” she said. “I feel more like 85 or maybe less. I can’t believe I’m 99 going to be 100.”

Sharing life’s journeys at Ludington Woods Assisted Living and Memory Care, 502 N. Sherman St., Ludington, MI 49431; 231-845-6100; www.ludingtonwoods.com.

 This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.


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