Archive for Sunday, February 28, 1999


February 28, 1999


Mary Michener's life abroad has brought her face to face with a warrior.

Editor's note: The following is the last of three biographies written by fifth-graders in Deerfield School that will appear in the Journal-World. The students put the project together with the help of students in Kansas University professor Flora Wyatt's Language Arts Methods class.

"The Life and Times of Mrs. Mary Michener: An Amazing Woman"

By Jamal Anderson, Meghan Bock, Ryan Childers and Caitie Hilton

Special to the Journal-World

This is the story about a strong woman named Mrs. Mary Michener. She was born in California on March 10, 1919. When she was very little, she played in a big sand box. Her husband's name is Charles Michener. He loved all kinds of little insects. She liked to pick up lizards and enjoyed the outdoors. She wore a black and white shirt. When she went on her first date, she wore saddle shoes with hosiery instead of socks. She wore all of this on her dates. The kind of music she liked was classical. Her favorite movie with sound, was called the "Desert Sound."

Kick and quake

Her favorite subject was reading. She dressed up before going to the movies and restaurants. Girls could not wear long pants back then.

Mrs. Michener had a mom and dad. Their names were Bert and Evelyn Hastings. Bert was a cop in Los Angeles and Evelyn worked in the library. Mrs. Michener likes to watch "Wild Animals" on the Discovery Channel. Her difficult subjects in school were math, music, recess and gym. At recess she was so bad at throwing and kicking the ball, when she got ready to play nobody wanted her on their team. Her scariest moment in California while she was growing up is when there was an earthquake. She had the earthquake right after her 13th birthday. Her favorite book that she liked to read was "Little Women." She loved to read. Her favorite foods were, and still are, honey and peanuts.

Her mother died three years ago. While she was growing up, her mom had a disease called Alzheimer's disease. That made her mom totally lose her mind. She did not know her own name, how old she was, and who she was.


Mrs. Michener has been married to Charles Michener for 57 years. She got married on Jan. 1, 1941, which is on New Year's Day, in California. Also she has four children, three sons and one daughter. When Mrs. Michener's children were little, she and her husband would do all sorts of activities with their children, such as: camping, playing games, traveling, going to parties and reading to them often. Her sons names are David, 55 years old; Dan, 54 years old; and Walter, 44 years old. Barbara, who is 50 years old, is her only daughter.

Mrs. Michener also has seven grandchildren, the oldest is Charles, at 32 years old, and the youngest is Josephine, who is 10 years old. Mrs. Michener's favorite holiday is Christmas when her family meets at her house for the holidays.

Mrs. Michener has a foster daughter named Anna. Anna's parents had put her into an institution for a year when she was younger, but she didn't belong there. Anna then came to the Micheners when she was 15, and now she is 21 years old. When Anna was 16, she wrote a book about her experiences as a child, the book she wrote was called, "Becoming Anna." Her book was

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published by the University of Chicago Press. She finished the book a week before she turned 17. Now Anna is looking for an apartment in Boston.

Adult life

Although Mrs. Michener was born in California, she has also lived in Brazil, Australia and Africa, each for a year. She once lived in New York and moved to Kansas in 1948. She lived in Panama during World War II. She went to the University of California-Berkeley, which is where she met her husband, who was her teacher.

She has seen many important events in her life, such as: World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the first man to walk on the moon. She has held many jobs: raising children, she was the editor of a science magazine for 15 years, she was also a speed-reading instructor, and study skills teacher. She owned a bookstore for 23 years. It was named Adventure Bookstore here in Lawrence. The last location was Ninth and Massachusetts. She once bought 32 books at a book sale and has thousands of books in her home. She is currently volunteering at the Lawrence Public Library three times a week. She is also the chair of a committee called Citizens for Public Transportation.

She lived on the coast of Kenya, and when working on her Swahili, she told us humorous stories about her time there. She watched zebras and elephants migrate. She drove across the Serengeti Plains during migration and picked up a warrior.


These are a few of Mrs. Michener's favorite things. She had some dogs, one in particular was a stray named Babe. Babe knew the difference between tame and wild rabbits. The dog would also pull burrs out of the horse's mane. Babe would also hunt and eat wild rabbits. In her life, Mrs. Michener raised rabbits. She also raised wild bees for two years and never got stung. She told us there are 20,000 kinds of bees. That was really interesting. Mrs. Michener also had chickens.

She has visited places like Thailand, China, Japan, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Peru, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Cameroon, Mozambique, France, Italy and Kenya. In Venezuela, they went on a nature conservatory trip. They were in a small plane and flew over flamingos.

In her free time, she does volunteer work at the Lawrence Public Library, reads, studies languages such as French, Spanish, Italian and Swahili. She is involved with the community to get public buses. Mrs. Michener is a very interesting woman.

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