Blog Article

Meet the artsy and free-spirited Ethel.

There isn’t enough time in the day for Ethel, a resident at American House Village at Bloomfield. At any given moment she can be working on a novel, painting beautiful pictures, writing new songs or just dancing to the beat of her own rhythm.

“I got my artistic spirit from my mother’s side of the family,” Ethel said. “As a little kid, I sat in the mud on our driveway and drew pictures.”

Originally from Washington D.C., Ethel spent most of her young life in Virginia. “I started dancing hula when I was 14 years old. My mother had a friend from Hawaii who liked to dance and that fascinated me. I started taking hula lessons and I’ve been doing hula my whole life.”

Ethel married her first husband in 1955 when she was 16 years old. She had her first and only child when she was 20.

“I just wanted to get married. My mother had to sign the papers for that to happen. When my husband got out of the Navy, we moved to New York so he could attend the Rochester Institute of Technology. He became a commercial photographer and we moved to Chicago for six years. He was working at Eastman Kodak, working on magazine and TV ads. My son was in the first grade at the time, so I stayed home. I learned to grind my own gemstones to create a line of jewelry which I sold in little shops when we moved back to Rochester.”

After 22 years of marriage, the couple parted ways. “I then met the love of my life in Canada,” Ethel said. “He was in a band from Hawaii and playing at a ski resort. I travelled between Canada and New York to be with him. Then he came to New York to be with me.”

Her second husband, better known as V, played a number of different instruments and had a beautiful singing voice. V taught Ethel how to play guitar and ukulele. They lived in Hawaii for a year, but eventually moved back to Rochester.

“I went to work for a beverage company that’s now known as Constellation Brands,” Ethel said. “They didn’t have any secretarial jobs and they told me the work on the lines was too difficult. I said, well, I need a job. Why don’t you give me a chance for a month and if it doesn’t work out, fine. They said OK. I ended up working there for 25 years.”

She and V were together for almost 40 years until V passed away a year and a half ago. Ethel’s son lived in Michigan and insisted she move to be near him. “So here I am,” she said with a laugh.

Ethel stays busy with her many artistic endeavors, including a novel she calls a love story with a little intrigue. She also continues to add to the artwork that covers her walls. “My son’s mother-in-law also lives here in American House, so I’ve been watching over her a bit. I make sure she gets her meds and anything else she may need.”

Ethel is grateful for her health and enjoys the maintenance-free lifestyle that the Village at Bloomfield has to offer. “I don’t have to cook or mow the lawn or shovel the snow at American House,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about anything except my artwork.”

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

Written By

Jim Dudley

With over 20 years of writing experience, Jim has worked for some of the biggest ad agencies in the Detroit area before joining American House. He earned a degree from Marquette University.

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