By JANET KEHRES
Daily Globe Correspondent
SHELBY- Marty Armstrong Phelan was born in Shelby Hospital back when Ms. Hoover ran the hospital and Dr. Grant Dowds' father was still a doctor for Shelby residents.
Phelan’s parents (G. Woodburn Armstrong and Ann Wood Armstrong) lived on Jefferson Avenue, Shelby when Phelan was little. She remembers a lot of children lived on Jefferson and having fun walking together to Seltzer Pool and Central School. She stated, “During that time there were no houses in the park area, just the pool.”
Grandpa Armstrong owned the hardware store on Main Street during the Depression. Farmers were allowed to charge their purchases until the crops were harvested. In the heart of the Depression era, even farmers could not make ends meet and the hardware store was not able to stay open. Phelan’s father worked for his father at the hardware store and lost his job. A friend offered him a job at J & L Steel and Phelan’s mother went to work briefly as a social worker. Grandpa Armstrong became the Justice of Peace for Shelby and sold license plates on the side. It was an elected job and he was elected every time. He was the only judge in Shelby at the time.
When Phelan was ten years old, her Grandmother Wood passed away and the family moved into the Wood's residence on North Gamble to care for Grandfather Wood. It was there that Phelan met Joann Stricker.
She and Stricker talked Phelan’s father into building a stage for them in the garage and the girls made puppets for puppet shows. They colored the puppets and made clothes for them. Phelan remembers Stricker’s mother used part of her wedding dress to make Cinderella's costume.
They made posters and nailed them to trees all over town. The price to see the show was two cents for kids and five cents for adults. She remembers their first shows were Hansel & Gretel and Cinderella.
During Phelan’s high school years, the U.S. was in World War II. She remembers everyone had ration cards, metal was collected and she helped sell war bond stamps to aid the war effort. The minute the boys in high school turned 18 they joined the service.
The summer after her graduation Phelan worked at the Depot. By the end of the summer she was offered a manager's position at the Depot, but her father wanted her to go to college so she went to Oberlin College. Her major was English Literature. Phelan said, “My claim to fame at college was I was the champion in women's ping-pong two years in a row.”
After graduating from college she came back to Shelby, but soon found there was not very many jobs for an English Literature major so she enrolled in Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in Chicago. Her biggest concern then was how to hail a taxi cab. While at the Katherine Gibbs School, C.I.A. recruiters talked to the students and encouraged them to join and work in Washington, D.C. After graduation, Phelan signed up for the C.I.A. and moved to Washington, D.C. She lived in a hotel for women only. She found a couple of girls who also had been graduates of Oberlin College and became fast friends.
It was in Washington, D.C. that she met her future husband, Vince Phelan. He was in law school at the time and his fraternity had a dance. Marty and Vince met and continued to date. Marty and Vince dated for four years. At that time there were too many lawyers so, Vince started working for the C.I.A.
Marty and Vince came back to Shelby to get married. He was then sent to New York City with his job at the C.I.A. Phelan started working for the Committee For Free Asia until she became pregnant with their first child, Beth.
Vince was transferred to Arlington so the family moved to Arlington, Virginia where Phelan became pregnant with their second child, Dave.
By that time Vince had passed the New York and Washington, D.C. law bars. Phelan’s father wanted the family to come back to Shelby, so they moved to Shelby and Vince took his bar exam for the state of Ohio.
Vince worked with Bill Morris which later became the law firm of Morris & Phelan. The family built a house on Glenwood in Shelby, when Phelan became pregnant with their third child, Anne. The family raised their children on Glenwood until Vince became ill. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Phelan went to work as a realtor, first with Tom Mattox, in Mansfield, and later on with John Hancock Realty.
Several years later Phelan’s father passed away so the family moved to Woodland Avenue where her parents had lived so that they could care for her mother.
Their children wanted ponies so the family had a small barn built with the backyard fenced in for the pony and pony cart. They enjoyed entering the pony and pony cart in several parades.
Vince was the judge in Shelby for two years until his health started to fail. Phelan cared for him, but the grown children felt she needed to get away once in awhile. She stated, “I was fortunate enough to go on several of Phil Pearson's European trips.”
Vince passed away in 2000. Phelan continued to stay busy with the Shelby Garden Club, being active in her church (she has sang in the choir for over 50 years), President of the Women's Organization, Church Session Committee, Republican Committee Person for Shelby 4-B, past member of the Women’s Club of Shelby, active in the past in PTO, and she has made the floral arrangements for the altar at her church for numerous years.
Phelan said, “I have made many friends in Shelby and I have so many fond memories of events in Shelby, but I will be starting a new adventure making new memories when I move to Indianapolis, Indiana to be closer to my children and grandchildren.”
Phelan has a fantastic memory so she will be sharing old memories with her grandchildren and making new memories.