92-year-old Stanton woman recalls long life in Montcalm County

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:40 am on Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gladys Knight Ingalls, 92, holds a framed aerial portrait of her longtime home in the Stanton countryside. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

STANTON — Gladys Knight Ingalls was born Feb. 28, 1919.

Woodrow Wilson was president, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution authorizing prohibition had just been ratified and World War I was coming to an end.

But Gladys grew up on a farm in the Stanton countryside, sheltered from much of the outside world. She was the second of six children born to Harrison and Edna Knight.

“We didn’t have any roads when I was out there,” recalled Gladys, now almost 93 years old. “We didn’t have electricity or anything, no phone. We had a bicycle and a wagon we played with. Everything, we had to share. For Christmas we’d get clothes, nothing to play with.

“But we always had food,” she said. “Mother cooked all day long. She canned everything from the garden. Dad cut wood. My parents were strict, but they were really special. They took care of us kids.”

Gladys and her siblings walked one mile each way to Hemmingway School, a one-room country school. She took her eighth-grade exams from a Montcalm County official in the Stanton movie theater.

The country school closed when Cedar Lake Academy opened. Gladys studied there for four years, graduating in 1930. She remembers being a bit bashful, but a sociable girl.

“I liked English and ‘rithmetic,” she recalled.

Gladys Knight is pictured wearing a white dress in the third row, second from the left, with her class at Hemmingway School in Day Township in the mid-1920s. — Courtesy photo

Gladys had known a neighbor boy named Laurence Ingalls for years. He worked at a nearby farm. The two became close in their teenage years when they worked together picking potatoes from a Mennonite field.

“He was nice looking,” Gladys said. “He was very friendly. He came from a good family.”

Laurence and Gladys were married June 22, 1940, in her parents’ home. They lived in Stanton for a year before moving to a ranch — formerly known as the Colby Ranch and the Playmore Ranch — near Stanton.

Three years later they moved to Sheridan to take care of someone else’s farm. A daughter, Janice, was born there.

Eight years later the Ingalls family moved back to Stanton after purchasing land from Montcalm County Probate Judge William Rasmussen. The Ingalls lived there until Laurence died in 1998.

Gladys moved into Myrtle Mae Apartments in Stanton. She still drives her Buick Oldsmobile, which her nephews take care of for her.

“I like to get away once in a while,” she said with her quick laugh.

Gladys has seen major and minor changes throughout Montcalm County in her nine-plus decades.
“Greenville’s gone all out west,” she observed. “Greenville used to just be a street with stores. Sheridan’s not changed much, nor Stanton. Stanton used to have more stores. Lakeview and Edmore haven’t changed much.”

Gladys does not care for television or politics.

“I wouldn’t know who to vote for because they’re fighting all the time,” she said of this year’s presidential campaigns. “I just have to turn my TV off.”

Gladys attends Frost Seventh-day Adventist Church and socializes at Commission on Aging dinners in Stanton. She also enjoys reading, playing Uno with her neighbors, having lunch at McDonald’s with her sister, Becky Dunlap of Belding, and visiting with her daughter, Janice, and two granddaughters, Christine and Jennifer.

“She does great for her age,” Dunlap said.

“I’ve had a good life,” Gladys said with a smile.

Gladys Knight Ingalls is pictured with her granddaughters and daughter, from left to right, Jennifer, Gladys, Christine and Janice. (Courtesy photo)

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