In Her Words
Candid profiles of strength told by the women of Northbridge
Throughout the month of March we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.
Beverly’s Story (Resident of Sunnybrook Senior Living)
What is your name?
What are the names of your parents and brothers and sisters?
My parents names were, Clarence and Mabel Danielson. My brothers are Burton and Curtis.
How did your parents choose your name?
My mom said “We had three choices, Beatrice, Bernice or Beverly...and we choose you!” My name does not have a special meaning, and coming from a Swedish background, that it is not keeping with the culture. The only nickname I’ve had is Bev.
When and where were you born?
February 14, 1936 in Minneapolis in the Swedish Hospital. My dad spoke and wrote Swedish as well as attended a Swedish school. He said it was a one room country school house that taught through eighth grade. I attended the same school from grades 1-4 and then another small school.
What kinds of things did your family do together when you were young?
My parents had a truck farm and they both worked very hard. During 1st-4th grade I would walk to school and then come home and help work on the farm. Sometimes, I would play with my brothers when they played boy games. I insisted on playing whatever they did.
What did you love to do with your friends?
My friend, Comfort (yes-that was her name) had two older sisters with prom gowns and we loved dressing up and playing dolls. When I was little we played outside a lot, tag and hide and seek. Mom and dad raised watermelons so we’d have watermelon feeds for the neighborhood which was fun.
What schools did you attend? What were your favorite subjects?
I loved school throughout my career. Myrtle Schuman was my teacher in 7th grade... she was a great teacher, a disciplinarian. I can remember her teaching us to diagram sentences and how to dance in gym class. I remember getting stuck with Bernie who didn’t bathe dancing the Lindy Hop! Evenutally Myrtle Schuman became the school superintendent and was such a great leader! I went to University of Minnesota for personnel management. It took me a long time to get through college because I was working 2-3 jobs putting myself through school. My mom died when I was 20 and my dad had very little money, so I didn't want to ask him for help. Eventually, I got a job at State Farm Insurance as a personnel manager. At this point in my life, I was living with my dad but felt that in order to move out and start my life, I needed to do something different. I decided to join the Navy and went to Newport, RI to officer candidate school in 1960. I graduated from there and then got an assignment in Charleston, S.C. It was the height of the civil rights era and a huge culture shock from Minnesota. I was witness to unspeakable discrimination.
If married what is/was your husbands name? How did he propose?
I met him (Merton) on a ship in Charleston. He was also in the Navy and we got married in 1963. He was taking too long to ask me to marry him, a shy guy from Maine who went to Bates College, so I asked him to marry me!!! I never wanted an engagement ring, and so we got married on February 2nd (Groundhog Day) of 1963 in Charleston.
What are your children’s names?
Abby was born in 1964 and then Leslie in 1967
Where have you lived?
I am proud to say I have lived or visited at least 45 of the 50 United States. I have also traveled to Lebanon, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia and more. As a family, we lived in N.Y. for twelve years and I made afghans and sold them at a local gift shop. After 27 years in the Navy, Mert retired as an executive officer and got a job as a registrar at Paul Smiths College in N.Y. We decided to come back to Maine because his parents were still in Maine and chose Brunswick as our home. It was great to be nearby the naval station.
Have you had jobs? Who did you work for and what did you do?
I loved the Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). My first daughter was born in 1964 and at that time you couldn’t have any dependents under the age of 18 in the military. The admiral I was working for was wonderful and allowed me to stay and kept me until I was 5-6 months pregnant. I was working in a personnel management capacity and loved it. When the kids were little, I stayed home because Mert was on the ship. This meant we traveled every 2-3 years and I loved it because you don’t get attached to things. At one point I drove on 101 from San Diego all the way up to Seattle, just me and the girls. In northern California, we drove THROUGH a redwood tree. I looked in the back seat and the girls were asleep! I woke them up to explain that we were going to be driving through a redwood tree! They looked, but then fell right back asleep!
What are your hidden talents?
I crocheted quite a bit, mostly to keep busy while my husband drove. Now I prefer to read.
What did you do to get through the difficult times in your life?
An inner strength.
Do you have any holiday traditions? What do you do for the holidays?
Just Valentine’s Day.
What are some of your favorite things?
Reading books, talking to my daughters-they call every Sunday.
Color: Green and purple
Books: Archer Mayor is my favorite author
Songs: Neil Diamond is my favorite singer
Pets: We had all kinds of animals on the farm, Tiger and Duchess/ Tom and Jerry were our cats.
What are some personal experiences that have especially touched your heart?
When all the kids from Chop Point School came to sing happy birthday to me at Sunnybrook!
What are your favorite things to do now?
What are your favorite experiences to partake in at your community?
I don’t have many right now, but I am hoping to do more. I am not very social when it comes to groups. I attend Tea with Tara (Executive Director) and will be going to the book club.
What do you hope for your children and grandchildren?
I wish Leslie would have less stress with her job and Abby as well. They live together, enjoy traveling and both have very important jobs that require much of their time.
What is your biggest piece of advice?
To experience everything you can, travel and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Sum your personality up in one word...