52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #16 – Martha Ethel (Westra) Strait

Relationship: Mother

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Well now, since my Mom is still alive and a good genealogist protects the privacy of living individuals, I’m going to be careful on what I put in this here blogpost!

It’s no secret that Martha Ethel is the daughter of Albert Westra (http://wp.me/p4WHi0-J) and Etta Berendine Pauw (http://wp.me/p4WHi0-1B). She was born in Newton, New Jersey, after her two older brothers John (1929-1992) and Ewald (1933-1997).  Martha’s younger sister, Lena, came along afterwards.

Martha remembers the dairy farms that she lived on in Fredon that her father rented/managed. One of my favorite stories that she tells about life on the farm has to do with a big white horse that belonged her oldest brother Johnny. I love horses and, while I respect their size, they’re not very intimidating to me. Not so with Mom. John begged and pleaded with her to get on the horse and finally wore her down. With some finagling, John managed to get all four (John, Ewald, Martha and Lena) of the siblings up on the bare back of the horse. Johnny gave the horse a good swat on the rump to get it going. It did. They didn’t! Martha remembers tumbling to the ground as the horse trotted off, happy to be free of the pesky kids. That was the end of her farm animal experiences. The Westra family soon moved into town and resided at 3 Townsend Street, Newton for many years.


Martha’s girls: Jodi, Jill and Jenni

She graduated from Newton High School and after a few years married William Charles Strait, Jr.  She worked for a time at the United Telephone Company but soon left that to become a housewife full-time and raise the three daughters that came along in the late 60s and early 70s.

Once my youngest sister, Jenni, was old enough to start school, Mom started looking for part-time work outside the home. My sisters and I attended Merriam Avenue School and the next thing we knew, Mom was a lunch lady!

A divorce from Bill in the early 1980s meant that Martha now had to find a full-time job. She started out with E. B. Brooks and then settled in working for Samsung on the assembly line making microwaves and televisions. As the company down-sized and moved offshore, Mom became a picker/packer in the one warehouse they still had open. Samsung would eventually close the warehouse and Mom then worked for Thor Laboratories for a while before retiring.  Now she stays active in the Hampton Seniors Club and loves to play cards.


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