B y Jaime Thomas
In the nearly eight decades since Helen Macura was Molly O’Brien’s age, life around Granville has changed a bit.
The pharmacy served the best hot chocolate, for example, and there was a movie theater right in the village. Macura was one of 13 children of a Czechoslovakian couple, and she sometimes earned money as a teenager by washing other families’ after-dinner dishes.
Fourteen-year-old O’Brien learned these little slices-of-life and more about Macura, who turns 91 Monday, while completing a project last spring.
Under the direction of Ann O’Brien, her eighth-grade teacher, O’Brien chose to interview an elder to compile an oral history.
“We were supposed to do an oral history of someone much older than us. I thought it would be a good story, and I thought she’d know a lot about Granville,” O’Brien said. She’d never before met Macura, who is very involved in the community. After they spoke, O’Brien put together her project, for which she got a perfect 100.
Macura thought O’Brien did a fantastic, detailed job.
“When I read it, I was surprised she had covered the story so thoroughly,” she said.” I thought that she did a remarkable job for someone that age.”
She said she was honored and “very flattered” that O’Brien chose to learn about her, rather than someone of more means.
“Granville is full of prominent people, and I come from a humble background,” she said. Though O’Brien’s book offers facts about Macura’s life, it also includes her observations on how the community has changed over time.
“She valued her education and enjoyed going to school each and every day. Helen said that children back in her day had fun with what they had and didn’t complain. She said that Granville was a very family oriented village. Helen said that it isn’t like this anymore, how there isn’t much trust and how nobody knows each other anymore like they used to,” O’Brien wrote.
She worked her way through Macura’s childhood getting banana splits at Bernardos, her work sewing cots for soldiers in WWII, her accomplished nursing career and her present day involvement with a number of organizations.
O’Brien said through her book she learned a lot about Granville during Helen’s time, and took the project further than any she’s previously done.
“Sometimes we take things in life for granted, and it’s important to learn things about the past. I thought it was interesting to learn how Granville was so small and close knit and everybody knew everybody,” she said.
Macura thought the idea behind the project was important for similar reasons.
“It’s not the generation today that made this country what it is; it was the generations of the past,” she said.