Mary Luther, Deanna Fletcher , and Andrea Fletcher

Recorded August 11, 2010 Archived August 11, 2010 40:23 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX007015


Mary “Marchie” Ethel Luther (87) talks with her great nieces Deanna Fletcher (24) and Andrea Fletcher (22) about her Prussian heritage and work as a cytotechnologist.

Subject Log / Time Code

Marchie’s grandfather came to the U.S. from Prussia.
Marchie went to high school in Johnstown, PA, and left to move to Pittsburgh alone, where she worked in the chemistry department of a blood bank.
Marchie worked for years as a med tech, and describes the beauty of cancer cells. She describes one cancer, whose cell looks like “a sugar cookie with a cherry.” Another looks like a cluster of grapes.
Marchie’s happiest moment is when she escaped her hometown for Pittsburgh. Women her age were supposed to marry of become a nun, and she didn’t want either.
She loved the freedom that she had working and making her own money. She tells her nieces that young women today don’t realize the freedom they have.


  • Mary Luther
  • Deanna Fletcher
  • Andrea Fletcher

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:00 Hello, my name is Deanna Fletcher. I am 24 today is August 11th of 2010. We are in Bellefonte Pennsylvania and I am here with my sister Andrea interviewing a great-aunt Mary Luther. Hi, my name is Andrea Fletcher. I am 22. It's August 11th, 2010. And we are at the door Accord Bellefonte PA and I am here with my older sister Deanna and my great-aunt Mary Luther who we affectionately call Marty.

00:31 What my name is Mary Luther today is my birthday. I'm already said I never thought I'd reach this.

00:42 And so that's that you would say that location Aldis is Bellefonte where where in Bellefonte nice little cup of coffee and some cookies already so we came here today cuz it's your birthday. We wanted to get some recording. So my first question for you, but what was your favorite birthday? What was your favorite birthday? Did you have a memorable birthday when you were growing up?

01:10 Need any memorable family cakes or anything just a good one so far. Bad ice cream for all the kids when their birthdays came to usually we celebrated them on Sundays family was around.

01:32 Give him a

01:33 Birthday gift

01:35 Did your parents get you anything special?

01:39 But one Christmas, I remember when I was real small got a teddy bear for Christmas. Perfect. What did you name it? Okay. So when and where were you born in Johnstown the house that you live in now? All the kids were four in their right? All the kids are born at home. Okay, and you were baptized at st. Stephens down the hill where you still attend Mass, right? Yes and your talk about how your grandfather helped build it. Yes. He did. He and my grandfather and father amorth when they feel that it was stay at a tiny little church and they build a great big Saint Stephen church, and then they

02:39 Carriage House and the convent and a great big school

02:49 Grandfather came from Europe from Prussia

02:55 His parents said he was married and a wife and a kid in and his people were.

03:03 The in the military with the King Francis Joseph Cemetery was a lieutenant and over grooming him T. Go for the ruin and he did not like the military. It seems they were always in Maneuvers and he didn't like that. So he went a wol Ronnie's sailboats and took him six weeks to get to New York. He saw several times.

03:40 Hey stop it. What time is it? Is it true fix time that they would all drown?

03:47 Then finally she finally got into Johnstown area. He had some friends and all and then send for his wife and his daughter sister Albina and they lived in Cambridge City on Chestnut Street.

04:03 And my dad was born there and he two sisters were born in Canberra City.

04:10 Dude names my dad. My dad's name was John.

04:16 And he's older sister sister abandoned. Her name was Margaret and his two younger sisters. When was Mary and the other one was Cathy Katherine and the time 1889 slide. He was a little boy. He was a little boy about eight or nine. Seven eight nine something like to hear they live in Cambridge City on Chestnut Street in his mother was making bacon bread. So it was raining raining in the streets were getting flooded. So his dad said his mother in the King of the Hill to heal. They cross the railroad tracks and there was a

04:58 Some kind of little I mine so they weren't there to keep cat out of the raid and then with the flood.

05:07 They lost everything destroyed their house.

05:13 And my dad's uncle came a couple days before and they were in a house and my dad's Uncle whiskey drowns killed in the just come from Europe right and maybe a week or so long and my grandfather was missing for over two weeks. He was found some place around Greensburg. He said when the flood came and knocked the house down he somehow survived on up side of the house and I rooster somehow came on. So yeah Brewster for a companion.

05:58 Some place around Greensburg has when they found him. He was going about 2 weeks, but they lost everything and when my grandmother came from Europe, she brought all her goodies, including a nice big piano, and she never got her piano again.

06:20 Yeah, so then later on they got another house in Chestnut Street 412 Chestnut. They live that was real close to the church the live there and my dad like his music. He was just like your brother and his music, but he was the only boy in the family. So he going to go to education.

06:54 And they want to see me.

06:58 To be a priest and on he did like itself somehow or other he met my mother.

07:05 And she's a third cousin of his when did she come over? I don't remember the date. I don't know.

07:13 But she was a young teenager when she came her dad died recently. Otherwise, I don't think she would have her dad would allow her to come her mother was all upset because her dad died and she escapes with friends, right?

07:38 Eastern Europe somewhere in France is Joseph. He a tall is Central Europe.

07:43 He said everything is there.

07:46 He was big military man. He wanted to conquer everything you wanted all of your escaped Melodies. Yes, and in one way pushing already showed soldiers different places. They enter me gold and Mary different women from different nationalities.

08:10 My mother had.

08:14 When sister and she was the baby and she had three brothers Augustine August and a dose.

08:23 Her brother. He was younger than her the other two. I believe her older than her. He's after World War II United States and then he brought his wife. She was hugged Eridan and he had two boys.

08:43 Hot to cousin said they lived down the street from where I lived on Gilbert Street.

08:51 And tell your grandmother came on a boat with some friends, right she does yam with family has no family and no.

08:59 She came on on the boat with the yeah.

09:04 Are men so your grandparents got married and they had to have the church has permission right? Because they were third cousin since they had to get special. Yes. My mom had some distant cousins down in Timber City. So that's when she came over she came to Pittsburgh person in from Pittsburgh. Steam Two Joints Allen Schwartz up in Westmont for mr. Waters. He was a big businessman of Banker What did the what did your grandparents do your grandparents? And your dad they worked in the mill? Everybody worked it to melted the steel wheels.

09:53 When Nick television Little House my grandfather had a little apartment.

10:00 Sweet

10:02 Teresa at 3 Apartments

10:05 Where are my little parking lot had two rooms.

10:11 And you had no indoor plumbing you at outside plumbing and you were lucky to have electric lights and you were lucky to have indoor water. So he had Dad's or my mother and dad lived there for a while. There was about two kids or three kids and then they build the house. I'm living in now. My brother Danny was a little boy, but never Sarah. I heard that he used to play in the sand. Will the men were Ricky houses built different than they build houses now, it's

10:47 Solid brick Hollow brick

10:52 You don't build house in life. You can't put an alien.

10:58 It's hard to put uncle Danny over right old furnaces. Yes.

11:13 And then my dad and my mother were newly-married she worked in the mail and he loved his music.

11:22 He was in the orchestra and he was in the band and Orchestra who played the violin and in the bed yet that which was it the Berenstain Bears. Yes.

11:36 And then Gilbert Street was a muddy Road should come home and he hated it. So he got involved in the local politics and became one of the supervisor said you got after the other two supervisors and they are bugging the Daylights out of Harrisburg. And it finally build the Road Gilbert Street con buildup and Gilbert Street goes out to Brands down in Brownstown begins. When you have houses on both side of the street Brownstown didn't have Roch Gilbert Street dipped it stop. That was the only Road. Yes, and it connected up to the bridge to go to Cambridge City at and to go to out towards Morel for the double the double roads. And if you go down by the double roads, there's a plaque that has his name was Ron and I missed her Hill bulky and the third one. I don't know the name of the third person.

12:36 The town supervisors the three of them, but my dad was the one because he did not want to walk in muddy roads after playing all day in the evening work during the day and then after the orchestra, he'd have to walk home and on the mud.

12:56 So tell us a little more about your mother used to cook with her all the time right now. How did you end up in your line of work will?

13:08 My last year of high school. She got a bad heart attack.

13:12 She was in the hospital. So when she was in the hospital she become acquainted to the nurses and then and so your mother and your grandmother she decided it should be a good nurse because she's a people person and then from the bed she could see the lab where the girl was there shaking tubes and all this and that and that fascinated her so she talked to the nuns and all that and found out what's it all I had to have I had after 2 years of college and then it was one year apprenticeship at the hospital all they gave us we got lunch with a get no money, but we did not pay any tuition.

13:57 So tell us where you went to high school and where you went to college. Yeah, so you went to Johnstown the old Johnstown High School. The second floor was pet University of Pittsburgh, you could go to if you could go even three years, but you have to go down to the vein University down in Pittsburgh to get to through the 4th year. Otherwise you would like you would not graduate.

14:32 So you were telling us the car ride hear about all the letters after your name, will you explain those to us later? When I finished here at work travel years, then I got the job at Saint Francis and Pittsburgh and the nuns had the best hospitals at that time with the beginning of blood banks Blood Bank started just after World War II tanks at St. Francis in the blood bank for about 2 years and then it one of the girls in a chemistry Department.

15:16 Quit because she was getting married. So I transferred into chemistry and I like the chemistry. So I worked there for a good ten years. I would have worked longer but the nanny Droid sister Agnes, they moved her from Pittsburgh. They moved her to Georgia and after she left that he liked it. So I quit I got a job yet and I worked everyday chemistry department for 10 years. It was nice, but he was getting bigger and bigger and they brought some doctors from different areas in New York and Doctor men that they brought he was from Bethesda, Maryland. He comes he was Tiny Little Italian Dago a little Italian guy big for his britches to argue with me. The other people were free.

16:21 So

16:23 We get into our men at one time. I wasn't feeling too good. And yeah real God I retired mad and I quit I worked a year in a private labradorite privately and then I got into cytology of time that six months you work. You learn how to identify cancer cells on pap smear on Slide.

16:48 And they paid us $125. This was government-sponsored there were so few side or text.

16:59 I took 125 of month, and I used to collect blood every morning. So I got $5 extra.

17:09 So that was twenty-five Bucks play every week plus 225 managed and then I was just lucky when I got finished with that the one girl that was there. She quit she was moving to a hostile or someplace so why I got her job and I work there for about two years and then the girl who was you charge she quit so I became box and I worked there for over 20 some years.

17:47 And I liked it. I like the people that worked with I like to I like to work was fine most of the time but too bad. Can you give us some examples of things that you would do do you always talk about the rabbits in the sheet that goes way way back when I was learning to be a med-tech when I was learning to be a med-tech. We had to do everything from scratch.

18:17 You didn't have it machines. You didn't buy Solutions. You may Solutions and at that time you didn't have pregnancy tests like you have now with the dipstick, but you had a used to rabbits.

18:33 Isn't that a yes?

18:36 And then you use my stood for different illnesses in bacteriology.

18:45 Yeah, and we use guinea pigs for the Wasserman test you had to put the guinea pigs to sleep and they had to put a needle hard to get some blood from the guinea pig. I tried not to kill it.

19:01 And the nun would go and get blood from the Sheep. Will you needed blood from the sheep and the blood from the guinea pigs and a people's blood to check for syphilis the Wasserman test for syphilis.

19:19 And please thing you had a mix from scratch, but I was lucky. I had a good background in science and chemistry from pets.

19:30 I like that it was good. So what will you explain the letters to me now, but you have a bachelor's degree. Yeah. Yeah when I went to change Francis after two or three years I work during the day and went to school at night a little while and it finished up and I got my BS biology major chemistry minor Mt. That's medical technologist ascp American Society of clinical pathologist CMC cytology.

20:01 Major site Allendale and then see CT ascp to you. I'm getting myself all mixed up a lot of letters. I can't keep checking my AC International Academy has psychology you had to take test for both of them to become registered a registered as a med-tech registered side effects not to keep your registration for side of take you out at 10 different conferences in every 3 years. He had a hand in your credentials.

20:43 To be sure that you're up to date with everything at cytology was fascinating.

20:50 Yeah cancer cells are beautiful. I've gotten to work some with Hela cancer cells. We talked a little bit about this and they're just called one word Dairy but cancer cells. What was your favorite thing about them will like the ad no nucleus of the cell is real big.

21:15 Big like a sugar cookie in a macronucleus is real red. So just call it a sugar cookie rid of Ben Cherry then at times I had some of the young resident doctors That Dunta fighting so when they go for their test at all I said, hey Mary, we saw your sugar cookie at the cherries and then there was another group that was a very deadly the old sailor. There's a white shelf and lymphocytes are nice dark playing the right strain, but whenever you see the same but like you see Black Sails all cracked up like a bunch of grapes.

21:58 That's the old self that's very dead people some of the men working at different areas would have that in their lungs. We would find it in sputum send Branco secretion after you find that six months would be about the longest Dead live.

22:17 And then you had the other squamous cells.

22:21 Does your beautiful orange nails all different sizes and shapes and different colors? I mean different shapes in an orange.

22:40 Tell me the symptoms like in a mouse if there were true Rolanda. Tobacco something you received you to find it that way.

22:49 What was the biggest lesson you learned from working as a psychologist? What did I what what was the the best lesson that your work has taught you?

23:01 I know I'm not that I took comfortable with it. And I know it was horrible to say when you find it when you found the cancer, you know, at least they can start getting him treatments.

23:14 I sometimes it be fine sometimes. No, but we would be best friends from all over but the Lord's abdominal fluid is brown sugar brown sugar Chic Creations, even from the brass stand all spinal fluids.

23:32 You are insane. You can have the squamous cell in the urine. It's fine to head up my picture when he sings.

23:47 Did you feel that everyone felt this way about watching cells as you did that they were beautiful?

23:57 They responded so nice to think it was some other weird normal cells are just so plain, but this time.

24:06 Free so poorly I have the highest cancer, but they must be in deadly cells, but the way they are especially when you stain them, right they they take to stain very well and they just under a microscope that easy to see me to tell the different parts.

24:32 I'm curious where there are a lot of other women in the Laboratories all the nurses or women.

24:43 Atria's be there were three of us. There were usually would have students two. Sometimes three of us plus two students three students and we would first we had the school at Presby and then they moved to school down at Magee but that McGee would teach him more to paps, but we did in the beginning we did all the teaching.

25:12 Did you have a teacher who influenced you did you have a favorite teacher or teacher teacher who really influence you and you were in high school or college?

25:22 Good chemistry teacher or biology teacher who was winning great school when teacher

25:29 Did the one that sing started me in science?

25:33 I like Hurst was good. And then there was an in high school. There was a man teacher is in chemistry. She was God remember their names at all.

25:43 No, I don't remember. Okay, I don't remember my elementary teachers either.

25:51 I really got you thinking about it. It's amazing how young you can be in really find your passion.

26:03 I wish I will at that time you raise chickens and ducks and know they have to supplement your food. So is my job to take care of the little animals. So I played with your grandmother. She's too busy. She needs a hero, but I know I was animal person. She was a people person. It's kind of ironic that she married a farmer and moved on to a farm that has all the animals. That's a good thing because I had to decide when they got bigger. Who are we going to have on Sunday dinner?

26:46 Little peeps most of them were little roosters.

26:51 So I had to decide if I didn't decide then they would take one of my favorites when I never ate chicken until I started working in Pittsburgh. I would not always got scared. I even got a couple smack Celebi on cuz I'm going to eat.

27:10 Farrier farrier Patterson. Yes.

27:14 Hey when you

27:16 Let them take your favorite so when you wouldn't eat or they let you have your I would have I had to decide which one has a little chicks most of the time they were little roosters. Anyhow, so when I grew up and started fighting, so that's why I forget the times were not like now stores like now.

27:50 To go grocery shopping with your mom City. We went grocery on Saturdays and then they would they would deliver it trust and when she had lots of kids they would always put it in the bag of candy in there for the kids, but it'd camera City. You didn't have to go downtown Johnstown. You had the big herself to groceries Stop The Butcher Shop. You even had Weisberg said there's another store where you could buy your clothes and shoes and on eating have to go to town and everything was downtown Camper City and then camera City.

28:30 She'd had five different nationalities. They all had there may be even more but five of them the cap sequence for

28:40 Yeah definition and they always churches. Yes Dad their own churches and they all wanted to be the best addition. And now when the bishop Force the five into one's horrible people still on get over and I still don't you squash too many people were the one Church they should have at least leave me too, but you were baptized and you've always gone to Saint Stephen's right, which is the yellow box Church. Yeah. Yeah.

29:20 What were the other churches will you had the German and the Irish in you had to croatians?

29:29 Orioles are Hungarian and they're all right beside each other right there within blocks. What was growing up in Johnstown like Inn in Cambria City besides that so you were there during the second flight right? You were sick as a family. We lived forget about it. The whole camera City would have to be flooded way up to the Steeples the Saint Stephen Church before they reached our house Cedar Rapids, IA enough on the hill.

30:09 I was alone with that time. No.

30:14 E36 flood Isaac school kid and I don't remember too much.

30:23 But I do know which was

30:27 I like it in the spring. I think it was every fall. They would butcher have a butcher a pig and yet at all. So any in the Attic, we had a couple of hams school bus yellow that hanging in the Attic So the time comes up flood people coming up.

30:50 And my mom's feeding everybody. So by the time in a week or two by everything.

31:01 Yeah, people were coming up and and

31:06 I think it was my ads and subwoofers her kissed stayed with us. Somebody stayed. I didn't want to remember but I knew you didn't even the police people please man would come in for coffee and all.

31:20 Did she was a little restaurant there for them last couple minutes, but it was the happiest moment of your life. Give a happiest moment.

31:39 A time when you were happy you always say you really enjoyed living in Pittsburgh.

31:44 When they escaped the Pittsburgh and weder got married or became a nun either. So when I was able to finish my training in Johnstown is a med-tech. I got the job at Saint Francis and I keep I lived with him. I would a woman with a Table Rock from the hospital. So I had to watch out of you. I was well protected. Well washed. She will I reach me The Nun Sister a nice watch me. I had to come back home every Saturday. I'm coming in on either bust your training and go back on Sunday. Either come home every weekend.

32:45 I couldn't say their hair and party I had to come home.

32:57 I'll be damned guy. And normally that the guys at the mail. Most of them didn't know how to read and write their stupid. I don't want to get stuck with somebody like that. I don't forget what that culture the woman wears nothing. She had to be submissive to her husband and all they wanted to win money early and have a lot of money babies and with their busy when babysitting have time to do anything else and I didn't want tax escaped escaped.

33:35 And I liked it that I think was the best time to try to get you to marry someone in Pittsburgh that lady you live with.

33:46 Do anything but my family I'm home. No, they weren't. I don't want you talk on with the young residents and all that pay watched the one-time the one resident put his hand on my shoulder. We're walking down the hall talking. I did not say hey Mary, he's married.

34:12 Microscope

34:16 Oh, yes, they watch me that's another reason when I went back to school at night I watched.

34:31 Because you know what's unusual for a girl to leave home and work like that that was different from the other women in your lab where they all married know now they were all single to they were at that time you got married you have to quit work. So you start a family.

34:53 And you did not get married unless the guy had enough of money to support you.

35:00 Oh, yeah, you people don't realize that you have you have choices. You can do what you want to be what you want. You can go to school you can eat and dress.

35:17 Even dance even when I was a kid socks came, we weren't allowed to wear socks. You have to wear stockings.

35:31 You don't realize how nice you have it.

35:36 Nowadays with the different appliances

35:42 With a microwave oven the washer to dryer and don't forget you got indoor plumbing when I was a kid with outdoor plumbing, and we loved it in the winter would go out so we can go play in the snow made an excuse not to go to the bathroom. So you can like you never play any tricks on any of your brothers or sisters and they were going to the bathroom outside but your brother play the tricks with your brother and your grandmother and I are the smallest we were in the babies and they're all older. We pick on the baby though. We had to

36:29 You know, they were pretty nice though there weren't a lot of buy more.

36:42 Work that you did.

36:46 Fifty Shades Freed more independent

36:51 Buddhist eat and like I said once I learned I learned enough to get my own apartment or I was able to live on my own salary I ate was wonderful.

37:05 Oh, that's freedom to Freedom which way.

37:10 They were

37:13 They were so strict and that's one reason when you got 16 17 18. They try to marry you off.

37:20 Do you think the strict next was through the the European cultural through the military background tension of Europe all the different five different six different nationalities? Yes. So everyone was looking to get married at 18 19 hold before that date 60 by 16 10-13. Yes. Oh, yeah. Yeah if you weren't married by the year were $20.

37:54 What time is time?

38:03 After my brother died my brother Andrew. He done if he was in his late sixties, he died of pancreatic cancer and John was older. He was nice this late 70s and 80s country by himself 3 or 4 months to read 65. So listen to Bad.

38:30 Funny Mister workout. I would have worked along with Cindy if I was able to.

38:36 Couple final questions. Do you have any wisdom words of wisdom that you like to pass on to us?

38:44 Enjoy life enjoy life.

38:50 How do you like to be remembered?

38:56 I don't know if someone who enjoyed life around thank you for coming with us. This is a good birthday, right?

39:23 We love having you around your our grandmother's sister and she passed away seven years ago. As of Aunt Margie are the years and my mom's brother always brings her first Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter and she always every time I come from the the taller side of the family and my aunt Margie's pretty little thing. You're probably out your your 520 not even maybe joining army. Sorry. She asked for two it will give you some inches.

40:15 Thank you. Okay. Thank you for listening to me cuz you enjoy that that was fun.