Written by Mary before suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Dated October 1, 1976
"The first big event I remember was finding a new baby in the house. My younger brother, Joseph Randolph Garner. He was a roly-poly and I remember pinching the fat rings of his wrists!
My first three years of school were spent at Public School No. 78, at Harlem Avenue and Monroe Street, Baltimore. This was several blocks from where we lived in the 1000 block of Appleton Street. My brother, Souil, and I always went home at noon and back to school at 1:00 p.m. No lateness either!
These three years also saw the country involved in World War I.
During this time I learned to knit socks for the soldiers and watched train loads of soldiers passing through Baltimore on their way to New York, the port of embarkation to Europe.
After World War I, my father bought a house in Walbrook, which, at that time, was a suburban area of Baltimore. In the fall of 1919, I entered Public School No. 63 at Westwood Avenue and Rosedale Street, where I stayed for the next three years- through the 4th, 5th and 6th grades. In September 1921, I transferred to Public School No. 49, Robert E Lee, on Cathedral Street near Preston Street. This was the first Junior High School in the city, and at that time students at No. 49 completed three years school work in two years. These students were considered "The cream of the crop" in the public school system and came from all locations of the city. I finished the 9th grade and graduated in June 1923, in spite of entering the second term a month late, due to having scarlet fever.
However, I lost the advantage of this "year gained" when I enrolled at Forest Park High School in the fall. My father felt that I should enroll in the Business Course, not the Academic Course, so I could not go into 10th grade Commercial. I had to repeat the 9th grade in order to take the Commercial Course. The next year my schooling was interrupted because of the critical illness of my two younger brothers.
A big change occurred in my life in September 1925. I got my first job! Montgomery Ward and Company hired me as a file clerk in the Adjustment Department for the handsome salary of $10.50 a week. The hours were 7:25 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and until 1:00p.m. on Saturdays. What a beginning! It lasted one year and three months.
In November 1926, I went to work for the Maryland Casualty Company where my older brother, Souil, worked. He had interceded for me with their personnel director. My big gain here was the shorter working hours and the pleasant working conditions. Also, I gained wider business experience. Not much money though!
One thing I learned very well. If you are going to get anywhere - keep moving. So I did just that. The next four years I acquired all kinds of business experience. I spent six years at L. Grief and Brothers, a wholesale men's clothing company. I worked in the Accounting Department and learned bookkeeping and cost accounting. Also, I learned how to operate the various office machines.
Then, I went to work for the Safe Deposit and Trust Company for three years. here I learned the basics of the IBM system of punch cards, sorters, tabulators, etc.
Suddenly, I felt there had to be a better way to progress and let an employment agency sell me a bill of goods....the only time I ever got a job through an employment agency. I went to work for Sherwood Oil Company, but only for six months. Always considered it to be the mistake of my business life.
After a lapse of three months, during which I had sufficient time (and no income!) to ponder the folly of my ways, I got a job at Sears, Roebuck and Company where I stayed for five years until August 1942.
In August 1942, I became a civil servant for Uncle Sam at Edgewood Chemical Warfare Center - but only for six months. The Navy Department had opened enlistments for women and I enlisted in January 1943 for "the duration" of World War II. I was sent to Iowa State Teacher's College for boot training and then on to the University of Indiana for Storekeeper School."