Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

What are you most proud of?

When I think back, I am proud of many things in my life.

One thing is that I became more outgoing. When I was a child I was very quiet. I was an only child until I was five. From ages four to six, I had one little girlfriend who lived across the street, but we did not play every day, and I had one friend that I walked to school with, but that was our only socializing. There were no playdates or sleepovers. I went to school and came home.

At this age, I only had two cousins. Larry, who was two years older and was your typical boy, and Dolly, who was two years younger. In my younger days, there were no extracurricular activities. I was also quite the “scaredy-cat.”

At this time, there was a terrible kidnapping and murder of a little girl in Chicago. All kids were put on alert. One day I was playing outside, and our insurance man came by and said hello to me. I went inside screaming about the man who talked to me.

We lived in a very Jewish neighborhood, and the rabbis would visit. One day I had to walk to my friend’s house to walk to school with her, and I saw a rabbi coming down the block. I ran back home and told my mom that I was not going back there. My mom assured me that he was a nice man and would not hurt me. I went back and did not see him, so I ran to my friend’s house and rang the doorbell. At the same time, the rabbi started to come up the stairs, and I let out a scream that would wake the dead. The girl’s father, who worked nights, came running down in his underwear to see what was happening. The poor rabbi was more afraid of me than I was of him. It all got straightened out, and I went to school.

We moved a lot when I was young, and I still have two friends that I made while in fourth thru eighth grade. I went to an all-girls Catholic High School. It was a very small school, and the only activity was studying. I still have two friends from high school. I was still very quiet.

My friend Mary that I made in high school, liked to go polka dancing, so Mary, Barbara, and I went dancing every weekend. I started to become more confident.

I finally decided to leave a job I had for a few years and got a job at A. B. Dick Co. This is where I realized I had something to be proud of. In the years I worked there, I climbed up the corporate ladder, which was not easy for a woman in those days. I learned to speak up for myself and earned the respect of many people, and made many lifetime friends.

Many years later, I met John, and we got married. We have been married for nearly 45 years. We had one son, who I am extremely proud of.

I am proud I followed through on a long-time idea and opened my own fabric shop.

I am proud that I had parents who loved me and taught me kindness and a good work ethic.

I am proud to be the sister who looked after a younger sister and brother.

I am proud that I had the strength to help my troubled brother.

I am proud that I had the kindness in my heart to help my aunt, who had no one else.

I am proud and grateful that I have the most wonderful sister.

I am proud of all my nieces and nephews and their children, who have turned out to be wonderful people.

I am proud and thankful that I had my best friend, Marge, for over 50 years.

I am proud that I raised a kind and successful son to carry on what I taught him to his amazing daughter.

I am proud and thankful that God has given me the health and stamina to make a difference in many lives.