Echoes of the Life of My Time 1895-1995
“Almost 100 years are covered in this book, a personal record of life in this country during some of its most exciting as well as troubled years. We enjoy seeing, through the eyes of the author, her personal life as it is set against the larger events—World Wars I and II and the Depression. Since she lived in many parts of the country, almost every reader can find some geographical area of common interest. Her story ends with her living in New Mexico. Her cheerful philosophy, willingness to help others and keen observations on life make this not only an interesting book but an inspiring one as well.”
—Marcia Muth, “Book Chat,” Enchantment
“Frances Martina Broene was born in Grand Rapids and grew up in the Furniture City, the daughter of a mother who was not well and a traveling salesman father whose wages were spent largely for doctors, medicine and housekeepers. The first third of the book, a very personal look at life in a lower-middle-class Grand Rapids home, tells of a difficult and restrictive childhood. Here are poignant stories of a cruel hired girl who terrorized Frances and her sister; of Sunday afternoons that ‘lasted an eternity,’ during which only books from the Sunday school library were allowed to be read; of simple pleasures such as trips to Lake Michigan and circus parades (the shows were forbidden); and happy days of learning that stretched from kindergarten to graduation from Central High School in 1914.
“Determined to become a ‘free agent,’ directing her own course, Frances set her sights on a college education and attended the University of Michigan, where she spent two years working on the Michigan Daily. After graduation she accepted a $15-a-week job as a file clerk at the Guaranty Trust Company in New York. Before long, however, she realized that ‘before me stretched days and years of meaningless paperwork,’ and she resigned, although she had no other prospects for employment.
“A series of jobs throughout the 1920s and early ‘30s—with the Red Cross, as a copywriter, and even an unhappy stint as a teacher—took her to Detroit, New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Although none of the positions was permanent, she was always able to maintain her independence, thanks to a network of friends, family members and colleagues, and to ‘get by’ in an era of limited opportunities for women.
“Married in 1938 to a young scientist named Robert Rogers, the author has been enjoying a productive retirement with him in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 1966. Her well-written book, filled with fascinating bits of local history, provides insight into the lives of single women during the 1920s and ‘30s. This book will prove heartening for readers in search of reassurance and encouragement as they cope with the challenges and frustrations of their own lives.”
—Gordon L. Olson, Grand Rapids City Historian, Grand River Valley History