Saturday, March 2, 2024

2024 Prompt - Changing Names - Josephine Blanche Martin

 Josephine Blanche Martin – 1923-2006


*Nancy Ann Simmons

**Josephine Blanche Martin – my mother


Josephine Blanche Martin
picture taken about 1941

My mother's process of changing her name was not entirely a pleasant experience. She officially changed her name on December 27, 1946, at the parsonage of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Detroit when she married my father, Paul H. Simmons. It was on that day that Josephine Blanche Martin became Josephine Blanche Simmons for the next 53 years.


Josephine Blanche Martin
picture taken about 1924

Josephine was born in 1923 in the house her parents owned on Bostwick Street in Detroit, Michigan. The family story is that her great aunt, Teressa Wilcox, was the midwife at her birth. Josephine attended kindergarten at Beard Elementary and then attended All Saints Catholic school her next 12 years of schooling. For fifteen years Josephine lived on Bostwick Street until 1938 when her parents moved into a flat on Vinewood Avenue above her paternal grandparents.


Paul's home had two rentals on the 2nd floor and one on the 3rd floor
Josephine lived on 2nd floor with her family and grandparents lived on 1st floor
There was a house in-between the two homes at one time
Picture on Google Maps taken about 2000

In 1934, my father, Paul Simmons, moved from Henning, Illinois to Vinewood Avenue in Detroit. Several years after his father died his mother remarried Jack Merritt and moved with Paul and his brother to Detroit. It was on Vinewood Street that Paul and his brother met Josephine and her older sister Nina. A year later Paul’s brother Wallace started dating Josephine’s sister Nina. On several occasions Paul and Josephine would tag along with their older brother and sister on a date.


Paul Simmons and Josephine Martin
picture taken about 1946

Paul was drafted into the U.S. Army two years after the United States entered WWII. In January 1943, shortly after turning eighteen and after just graduating from high school, Paul was given notice of his induction. Paul served from June 1943 until January 7, 1946. During the war Josephine wrote faithfully to Paul sending him a box of Saunders chocolates every week. When Paul returned home, he continued his relationship with Josephine while attending Wayne State University. Josephine had signed up for the United States Cadet Nursing Program at Providence Hospital in Detroit in 1944 and was in her second year.


Josephine Martin's U.S. Cadet Nursing Corps
Membership Card

Paul and Jo certainly enjoyed being together and sharing time with all their friends after the war was over. Unfortunately for Josephine, she realized in December 1946 that she was pregnant. Just before Christmas Paul and Josephine decided to get married and applied for a marriage license. This had to be a difficult time for both Jo and Paul. They were both going to school and Jo had been elected president of her senior cadet nursing class.


Paul Simmons and Josephine Martin
Edward & Julie are Josephine's brother & sister in-law
Wally and Ruth are Paul's brother and future sister in-law
Bill and Nina are Josephine's sister and future brother in-law 
Tim is Josephine's nephew, son of Edward and Julie
All the others are friends!
Picture taken about 1946

Paul was strongly advised by his family that he did not need to marry Josephine. But on Friday December 27, 1946, Paul knocked on Josephine's parent’s door and asked for Josephine. Together they went to get married. They walked to Immanuel Presbyterian Church two blocks away and were married by Reverend Albert J. Lindsey. The marriage was witnessed by Paul's brother, Wallace, and his future wife, Ruth Wheeler.


Paul Herbert Simmons and Josephine B. Martin's
Church Marriage Certificate

Josephine changed her name that December day in 1946 and never looked back. She was married for fifty-three wonderful years. She and Paul were together through the best of times and the worst of times. They worked hard to raise a family and taught their children, through their example, the value of family and friends.


Paul and Josephine (Martin) SIMMONS
picture taken about 1996


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