Ella is a force to be reckoned with. She heard about this project through a flier posted in her hall, and called four times in one morning just to make sure she’d have the chance to tell her story.
Ella Louise Cecilia Middleton was born on April 11, 1931 in Flint, Michigan. Her mother passed away when she was born of complications. Sadly, her father, originally from the Grand Rapids Area, didn’t know what to do with the new infant suddenly in his care. He was very young at the time and she was his first child. For the first six months of her life, Ella was in a sort of nursing home, until relatives scolded him for his neglect and pressured him to take her in.
Ella’s father remarried when she was three. On her fifth birthday, her first sibling was born. A situation that sometimes may alienate those caught in it, Ella recalls her step-mother being kind to her, increasingly as she grew, in spite of having a total of three children of her own. Still, Ella walked to the beat of a different drum.
When Ella reached her early teen years, she was put in charge of the groceries. Her step-mother stated that her father would pick a terrible selection, and knew Ella would enjoy the responsibility. So, each week, Ella would go down to the market and collect the groceries. Once bagged, the grocer would hold them until her father arrived to pay for them. You see, she really enjoyed the responsibility because it took place next to the theater. While waiting for her father, she would pay for an 11 cent movie using her babysitting money. She states that those movies brought her up – they taught her to be an adult. In her words:
Today she still loves to watch television and has it going all the time. When I would call to schedule the interview, she always had it on in the background. She believes it has been a lifesaver. “What would I do? Sit here and stare at the wall?” she quipped. She told me that she’s seen all the movies that Villa Maria screens, but she still attends the events. She’s glad to reminisce.