Today on Senior Voices, we meet Belmont resident Margaret Frey. Now 71 years old, Margaret is long-time advocate for Dayton youth, working at Children’s Service Board or CSB, earning her doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Dayton, and serving as a school psychologist for the Dayton Public Schools for many years. She shared her story with Dayton Metro Library volunteer interviewer, Anna Omulo.
Margaret Frey: I was born at Miami Valley, came home to the house in Belmont, little bungalow I still drive by every day, small house, and I slept in my parents’ bedroom ‘til I was three, when my mother said, “We’re not doing this any more, George!” and we moved to a house that was two blocks away, and I live in that house now. I kicked my parents out when they were 84, bought the house and said “Go live somewhere else,” and my daughter and I moved into the house and I’ve been there since.
So, I’ve been a here a long time, I’m a Belmont graduate, so I’m a student of Dayton Public Schools and have just spent most of my, all of my adult life, except the few years I was away for college, in Dayton. It’s a place I can afford to live as a single mom, I can afford to have a pleasant, comfortable home, and still have money to travel, it’s been a really solid community for myself to raise my daughter and many of my aunts and uncles, this is where the extended family was.
Anna Omulo: So how was high school, how was life like in high school?
Margaret Frey: I enjoyed high school. I was politically active in high school, I was musically active, I sang a lot and performed and competed, so I enjoyed high school, but I’m never a person that really says, “Oh, I’d just give anything to go back to…” no, I’m a person who truly wanted to grow up.
And I had a wonderful childhood, but growing up gave me, it’s horrible to say, growing up gave me power in my own life, growing up gave me opportunities I did not have at fifteen, but I was young, I was born in October, so I graduated from high school at seventeen, and I went to college when I was seventeen, and I had been accepted at a couple of schools. The one I really wanted in was at Otterbein, which is in Westerville, north of Columbus, and that time it was a church school, it still is, so I had bishop’s recommendation, I was going here really good. It was 1965, and the first year was fine, a group of women were in house together, they accepted too many students for the dorms, I enjoyed that, having roommates and as the only girl I had my own bedroom at home, so this was sort of nice to have a shared space and I really enjoyed that. Many of those women are still friends of mine, but the sophomore year, I just sort of, my sophomore and junior year, I just stopped. I performed constantly in the choir and singing, and I just stopped. And one of the major reasons I stopped was of the war.
Many of my friends were killed in the Vietnam War, and so being close to Columbus was a great way to picket and do all those things politically I felt the need to do. Tragically, the great school of Otterbein say you should make different decisions, but they were kind enough to put me on probation twice before they said, you need to go spend some time figuring out what you want to do.
And they’re right, I don’t believe any eighteen year-old really knows what they want to be when they’re fifty, so I came home after I flunked out and spent my father’s money, and got a job and within six month left my parents’ home and rented an apartment with a friend of mine, and that started me down the path of human services. So, I was in almost all the human service agencies in Montgomery County one wat or the other and served great populations of people, I’ve enjoyed every side of this town, and when I was, I think it was at CSB, I was a supervisor at CSB, probably in the early Eighties, mid-Eighties, and I decided to go get a master’s. Oh, after I flunked out I did go to Antioch and finished my bachelor’s.
So I decided to get a master’s in school psychology, educational psychology, and went to UD, and was raising my daughter alone. At the library she’d sleep under the carrels with a little tiny TV, so I drug her on Saturday morning to the university constantly, so I did the master’s at US, left Children’s Services to do an internship at Fairborn school, and then was immediately hired by Dayton City. I wanted to work at Dayton City. I am a Dayton City kid, and the tragedy about Dayton City and many urban systems is, many people who do so well and reasonably well servicing our kids, just don’t like the school system, they leave. My issue is then who are leaving the children with? If all of us who know how to do this well, who are we leaving with, that just really always bothered me, so I stayed.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer and Senior Voices project coordinator Jocelyn Robinson. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation.