Written by Brandon Cho
“I’ve gotta warn ya, my mother-in-law always used to tell me ‘El, you don’t always have to tell everything you know. She was right!’” With a grin and twinkling mischief in her eyes, Elinor Lamade lounged on her couch as she prepared to tell “entirely too much about my life, so feel free to leave out all but the good bits”.
Elinor was born in Pennsylvania, and recalls running away frequently from home after her baby sister was born. Jealous of all the attention the baby was getting, Elinor ran away so often that her parents resorted to putting a dog leash on her attached to a clothesline, so that she could run up and down the hall without running out of the house. “Don’t worry though, they were not malicious, they just needed me to stop running away all the time” she laughed.
After high school, Elinor went on to William and Mary College in Virginia for one year, before transferring to the much more affordable Penn State where she finished up her bachelor’s degree. Elinor worked and took night classes at Bucknell University until she earned a Master’s Degree and a slew of other certifications she applied toward a career in teaching.
“I loved dancing, mostly ballroom, but I also liked fast dancing at places in the countryside where you could put a coin in the jukebox and keep up with the beat” Elinor recalls. While never achieving a professional level of skill, she did learn most styles of ballroom dancing. A moment later, her smile shrunk as she admitted she “never learned to do the Tango though, darn it.”
Elinor and her would-be husband, Dietrick Lamade, both grew up in the same town and attended grade school, middle school, and high school together. They both had different sweethearts at the time, however, and would not end up together until after Dietrick had returned from his service in the war. “He (Dietrick) was in his senior year at Dartmouth when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and he left to enlist before graduating”. He went on to join the 2nd Marine Air Wing, and lost half his squadron over heavy air fights over Japan. Thankfully, he returned from the war and finished his schooling. Around that time, Elinor and Dietrick reconnected and as for the rest, “I don’t know how it happened, but it happened!” she said.
After their marriage, Elinor continued to teach while Dietrick worked at his family’s newspaper company, Grit Publishing Co. They soon had their first child, a son they named Dietrick after his father, and Elinor joked
“I said, ‘now that we have a Dietrick, we should name our second son Fredrick.’ sbut my husband said, ‘Only if we name the third son Heinrick.’
I said, ‘We will NOT!’ so we ended up naming our second son Phillip, and our third child, a daughter, Sara Kathryn.”
It was easy to pick up on the core of humor that Elinor weaved into her everyday interactions, and her eyes lit up as she thought about the hundreds of stories she had to tell from her 28.4 years of teaching. When discussing her own kids, she smiled with pride and described the athleticism of her children. From “Rick” the baseball player and Phillip the wrestler, who were “both darn good at it” to her daughter Sara Kathryn, the horse rider and now golfer, Elinor could boast with the best of proud mothers on the accolades and physical feats of her children.
“Overall, motherhood was a wonderful experience. And I feel blessed with three wonderful healthy children who all grew up, got married, and are well employed” she remarked with a wink. With both sons having fought in the Vietnam War and returned safely, and a happy family around her, Elinor ended with a poignant understatement “I must have done something right.”
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