| Living 54 Years in the same house.
By Shirley Willard, Fulton County Historian
I moved into my house in 1960, which makes it 54 years living here in the same house. Maybe not a record but a bit unusual. I looked in my 1960 diary (been writing in diaries since I was 12) to see the exact day. It was Dec. 18, 1960. I was living in an apartment above Murray McCarty’s office on Main Street next to the Phillips 66 station (where Walgreens is now). My father and brothers helped us move. My son Tommy was about 18 months old. He was taller than the pine trees. Now the pine trees are 50 feet tall.
The 1960s were not a happy time for me until I married Bill Willard in 1964. So I did not read much in the diary. Now I am recalling how much the times have changed and what a difference in what money will buy.
Vern Noyes sold most of his farm and built a new house in 1950 but in 1959 he wanted to move to town. He advertised his 20 acres and house for sale for $11,000 but got not a single nibble for a year so he offered to sell it to me for $100 down and $100 a month. I jumped at the chance.
Vern was my parents’ neighbor and I had taken my horse to him when I was in high school so he could make a harness for her. He was one of the old farmers that I loved to listen to, as he told stories about the horse and buggy days, adventures and farming. I always say I got interested in history sitting on a bale of hay listening to the old farmers talk.
I was teaching at Kewanna School for $4,550 a year. I had decided to become a teacher when I was a sophomore in Rochester High School. My English teacher said she was getting $100 a week and that sounded like a huge salary.
I attended Manchester College 1955-1959 and the tuition was $140 a term or $420 year (three terms of 12 weeks). Room rent was only $36 a term. The furniture was old and the beds were old metal cots but it was affordable to a farm girl like me. I was awarded a $100 scholarship at RHS and another $100 from Manchester College. Dad gave me a calf which I sold as a yearling for $100 my junior year. Then my senior year I sold my horse for $100.
I worked three summers at Topps Garment factory in Rochester, starting at 55 cents an hour. I worked at Schultz dime store Saturdays and also Christmas vacation. I worked as a janitor at college and was paid 65 cents an hour the first year, the next year 70 cents, then 75 and my senior year 80 cents an hour. I graduated in 1959 and did not owe anything. My grandkids think these were very low wages but I tell them that candy bars and pop were a nickel each, gasoline was 32 cents a gallon, everything was equally cheaper.
Vern’s wife, Arzona, had a green thumb. The flowers she planted still grow and bloom around the edge of my yard.
Things sure have changed. We raised our three sons and they have moved away. The old barn Vern built was blown down by a tornado in 1991, so we built a new pole barn. We now have three houses on our land, where my granddaughter Dasha & her husband Bronson Vanata live, and where my grandson Josh Willard and his uncle Kenny live.
Now Green Oak Antiques, founded 1978, is across the road from me. They get a lot of business and when there is a sale, lots of vehicles park along the road and in our field. My grandson Josh, age 23, works at the antique store, and has worked there since he was about 12 years old.
Between the Willards and the Woottens, we have almost a town here, with each having three houses, making a total of six houses.