Freeport, Michigan USA
Slim had come out of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan,
in 1934... the depths of the Great Depression. Out of a graduating class of
some 174 certified teachers, Slim was one of only three (3) to secure a
teaching position that first year.
With only a few dollars from his sister Katherine, Slim had set out
hitch-hiking from town-to-town all over the western part of the state. He
had finally walked out in a freshly-plowed farmer's field to talk with a
school board president. The farmer talked with Slim for awhile... then
looked down at his white shoes, now covered with a thick coating of black
Michigan soil. "You'll do," he said.
Slim was actually hired to fill the job as high school principal and
teacher. His second year the superintendent left for southern Michigan and
Slim was made superintendent... at age 22! About that time he told Dorothy
that he thought they should think about getting married.
Dorothy Schurman had completed the training program at the Osceola Normal
School and was teaching in the one-room county schoolhouses... first at
Marion and then at the Robert Ardis school just outside McBain. Her
superintendent was Claire Taylor, who would years later become the Michigan
State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Slim and Dorothy essentially eloped. They did not want to be a "burden"
to their families (familiar theme, eh?) and so Dorothy's sister Mae and her
husband, Ford Finkel, were the only witnesses. The marriage license cost $1.
Slim had been living in an apartment above the drugstore in Freeport. It
was nothing fancy, but the rent was only $12 per month. They had raised
Slim's salary when he became superintendent, but only from $450 to $600... a
year! So, there were not too many options. Still, they were happy to be
In many ways Freeport was a similar small town to McBain, where Slim and
Dorothy had grown up. It probably had the advantage, however, of not being
McBain. They really wanted to be "on their own" and Freeport would be an
opportunity to start their own lives... rather independently. Still, they
were close enough to stay in touch with relatives in both McBain and Evart.
But, they could also explore the close-by "big city"... Grand Rapids.
This would give them a good preparation for what was ahead. In 1942
little "Jimmy" was born, and they would all be off to Southeastern
Michigan... to the really "big city" of the emerging Detroit "megalopolis."
All of this while racial unrest was looming... and their country was being
drawn into the greatest war the world had ever seen.
So, off they went, in 1942... to Inkster, Michigan. They took with
them many lasting friendships and memories. They had become first, a
"couple," and then a "family." Slim had established his professional
"credentials" and then a "career." It was hard to leave, but then must
have seemed it was time to follow the "yellow brick road." As in that
story, I think that Slim and HIS Dorothy had no idea what would