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“I used to cry all the time.” After graduating from eighth grade in 1934, Paulus was unable to continue her education.
She was needed to help support the family by working the nearly 100-acre farm in Pittsgrove, Salem County, where she lived with her paternal uncle raising cattle and growing vegetables.
She enjoyed spelling, arithmetic, and history, but wasn’t overly fond of geography. Paulus, shown here at the Pittsgrove Senior Center, will soon receive her high school diploma. Without much discussion from her aunt and uncle, Paulus said it was made abundantly clear that she would not be allowed to begin her freshman year at Bridgeton High School.
Paulus dropped out of school when she was 13 to help out on the family farm during tough economic times. Her future husband also dropped out several years later in his junior year to work on his family’s farm.
She tearfully watched as the yellow school bus rode by the South Jersey field where she tended chickens.
“I saw the kids and I wanted to be on the bus going to school,” she recalled.
Donelson met Paulus at the Pittsgrove Senior Center, where she faithfully shows up three times a week for a nutrition program operated by Mid-Atlantic States Career and Education Center.
A host of dignitaries is expected to attend, along with her pastor, family, and friends. She was always encouraging me,” said her son, Lou, 71, who now lives in Tennessee.
In 1963, he became the first Paulus male to graduate from high school.
Paulus said things went “kafooey” when she was 9 and her parents divorced.
The family struggled to make ends meet during the Depression. “It was terrible.” She went to live with an uncle, Edward Garrison, and his wife in Pittsgrove.
She also drove a school bus and worked in a canning factory.