Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Books · A daughter remembers Alice
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A daughter remembers Alice

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - October 18th, 2010
A Daughter Remembers Alice
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
The new memoir, “I Remember Alice: A Story of Her Family, An Unusual Courtship, and Counseling of the Spirit” self-published by Palma Richardson of Traverse City, is an odd book. I was confused many times as I read it: who was who, who was related to whom, where I was in time. The book has all the problems of most self-published books, and yet I was charmed by not only the author’s voice, but the voices of family members who chimed in from time to time as if everyone sat around the family dinner table, maybe after a wake, trotting out their memories—good and bad.
That’s what forms the voice and tone behind this book about Alice Tredway, the author’s mother, a self-sufficient woman born in 1909, in a log cabin outside Limestone in the Upper Peninsula. Born into a large family where kids got edged out of the cabin early to make room for younger children.
From that spare beginning, everything about Alice Tredway becomes unusual. Like her mother before her, who followed one of her sons from place to place out West until she died, Alice is an individual who seems to have set her mind on goals and achieved them, rarely being stopped by public opinion or circumstance. She is, in many ways, a pioneer, and an Upper Peninsula pioneer at that. A cousin remembers: “Grandma would feed us venison that she had canned and she’d take us picking blueberries or wild strawberries at the edge of the field. I remember her always busy and smiling, with her blue eyes and curly white hair.”

A RESIGNED AIR
The author remembers her grandmother “as a diminutive lady with white curly hair and a slight limp. She had a resigned air about her as if—‘This is how it is, so I’ll just accept it’—her most distinguishing physical feature I remember when I was a child of 4 or 5 was a prominent adams apple (from a lack of iodine earlier in her life), which bobbed up and down all the while she talked.”
The cover shot of Alice as a young woman gives a much different picture of who she was. Pretty. Determined. Eyes looking off toward a future she was determined to control. Her poems (a few included in the book) shows a pragmatic mind that saw the world without sugar coating.
In a poem about her father, a drinker and possibly cruel man, Alice writes: “Our Dear Papa, DEAD DRUNK, with whiskey he stunk, but, Who shall put him into a mold?”
I wasn’t convinced I liked Alice as I read along. She left the cabin at an early age and put herself through Northern Michigan Normal College so she could teach. Soon she was teaching at Stambaugh School, near Iron River, but teaching didn’t enthrall her. She set her sights on a new career: that of a wife, and the chosen one was Owen Tredway, a widower 44 years her senior. All through college, Owen Tredway sent her money to make college life easier, though sometimes, it seemed, he complained that she spent too much. In retaliation, she returned the latest check to him. Alice wasn’t without spunk.
In their courtship, Alice was the aggressor with her entreaties progressing through their letters to the point where Owen Tredway tried to fend off her advances. In a letter of May 24, 1930, he writes “ ...I can’t expect to be here more than 8 years, ‘cause at 75, I am an old man. To take a wife your age who would be apt to bear me a child and me an old man who probably would never see the child only for a year or two. I don’t see how it could be. I don’t want one now, Alice, do you know that I am 44 years older than you, which is 40 years too much. I would think of the difference in our ages every time we were in public, and to introduce you as my wife would be extremely embarrassing. We would be pointed out as that man who married that young girl (what an old fool) . . .”
Alice wasn’t stopped. They married and had the children Owen stressed about.

SECRETS TO HAPPINESS
And that’s where my skepticism about Alice ended. Theirs was a love that lasted until Owen died, a happy man who lived out his elder years in contentment. In a journal entry dated Aug. 2, 1933, when she was pregnant, Alice writes, “Some secrets to our happiness. My dear one never fails to tell me when something is good. Tonight - rare roast beet etc. - blackberry pie. ‘This is good eating, Alice. Beans, potatoes, and meat tastes good.’ Who wouldn’t find joy-even tho’ it caused pain to bend to oven so often—in making a big dinner.”
It seems as if Alice, though a tough-minded woman who knew what she wanted and went after it, also lived up to her end of any bargain she made.
After Owen’s death, Alice took care of herself and her children and eventually found herself drawn to spiritualism and a firm belief in reincarnation. Over the years she developed methods of delving into past lives that brought peace to troubled people and made her known throughout the Upper Peninsula and beyond as a gifted seer.
I came away from the book with a deep respect for Alice Tredway, finding her a pioneer in many ways: spiritualism, helping the mentally disturbed, living life according to her own tenets, and even blazing a trail for other women to lead lives they fashioned for themselves.
And a deep respect for the author. The mistakes made in self-published books are here. ‘I’ is used incorrectly over and over. The old ‘I’ versus ‘me’ battle. A good editor would have caught it. Still, even this makes the writer’s voice authentic. Her honesty in telling the truth about her family and especially Alice, while not applying coats of varnish to please other family members, is compelling.

Palma Richardson will sign “I Remember Alice” at Horizon Books in Traverse City on Nov. 6, 12-2 pm.
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli will be teaching: A Novel Experience—Fiction Writing Workshop, at NMC on Fri., Nov. 5, 9-4 pm., in the Olson Center. To register call NMC Extended Education at 231-995-1700

 
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