Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Afternoon with Margaret Hill


Any conversation with Margaret Ann Hill is always filled with laughter. She said to me, “I always know how to have a good time.” Her quick wit is complemented by a sharp and analytical mind. As a teen she had a series of jobs, working for Graybar Electric in the accounting department for 2 years and then American Fire and Casualty Insurance Company for 3 years. She was proud of these early jobs that she had during and after High School. A true Orlando native, she was born in and grew up in the same two story home on Evans Street, that her father built. Her mom, Josephine Graff married Joseph Zapp in Indiana, where they met. Her parents farmed there for a short time. Joe Zapp was a gifted carpenter as well as a stern disciplinarian. Her mother instilled the love of nature, family and people in Margaret while her father provided structure and determination. Margaret is of German descent and the youngest of nine children in a devoted Catholic household. The necessities were provided for, yet luxuries were not plentiful. Margaret does remember the excitement of seeing her first movie at The Beachum when she was 16 years old.

When I asked Margaret about her marriage to Duane, she said with a school girl grin, “That was one of the happiest days of my life.” Margaret met her husband Duane at Swift Packing house. She had an accounting job and Duane worked the meat cutting equipment. As their romance blossomed, they would write letters to each other at night and trade them at her desk in the morning. Margaret worked at Swift for 5 years until their wedding and the birth of their first child. The newlyweds moved to an apartment on Hyer Street in Orlando. This was a small 2 bedroom apartment and they lived there for 4 years. They bought their first home in 1958, which is the home Margaret is happy to live in today.

Margaret was proud to have raised four boys and a girl. Another of her happiest days was when her daughter Mary was born. She was so glad she finally had a daughter. This was a major victory after having all boys for so many years. Margaret enjoyed gardening and sewing, so now in addition to sewing pants for all her boys, she could finally make dresses for her daughter. She delighted in being a Mom and proudly talks about a trip she took to the bank where she had all her children in the back seat of the station wagon as she went through the teller line. In those days, the bank tellers still gave out lollipops. As the teller was counting out the 5 lollipops, he said that his wife would feel blessed if she was able to raise their one child with the apparent ease that Margaret seems to be raising her five children.

Margaret’s daughter Mary entered the room and she joined in on the conversation. She started to tell a story about how proud she was of her Mom ‘doing’ a 5K with her about 15 years ago. Margaret walked it and Mary ran the distance in record time for herself. While Mary was waiting at the finish line for her Mom she mentioned to the spectators around her that her mom was walking the course, that it was a challenge for her and asked them if they would cheer with her for her Mom. Those spectators then told two friends who told two friends and so on…and before she knew it 50 or more people were all waiting for Margaret Hill to cross the finish line. When Margaret rounded the corner to the finish she was more than shocked by the huge crowd of people shouting, “Come on MOM you can do it! Yeah, Mom!!!” Some spectators even dashed onto the course to meet her, hugging her and shouting further encouragement. Yes, Margaret knows how to have a good time, making the most of every moment and embracing each day.

- Thomas Thorspecken

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