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'Mom' And 'Boys'

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Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
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"MOM" SHOWS THE RIGHT WAY TO MAKE A BED: Miss Emma Bersuder, a landlady here for 18 years, gives one of her "boys,” Gary Wold, a few tips on bed-making. "Mom," as her seven roomers affectionately call her, celebrated her 76th birthday last August. Gary is a junior from Detroit in the School of Literature, Science and the Arts. Mom And Boys' There's Waiting List For Rooms At Miss Emma Bersuder's Home By Jay Blissick As you walk up to the neat, modest-looking house at 1524 Geddes Ave., there's nothing unusual to catch your eye. The two-story house has a just-scrubbed look, and a row of "might-have-seen-better days” spirea bushes stands beside the front steps. Inside the 10-room house big, cozy overstuffed chairs grace the parlor. They are garnished with frilly, crocheted doilies. But still nothing unusual. Then you meet Miss Emma Bersuder. She has been taking in roomers here for the last 18 years, and has become so close to them--all students that they affectionately call her "mom." In fact, an informal waiting list determines who lives there. "Mom,” who was 76 last August, handles most of the household chores. She does her own washing and ironing, and makes beds and breakfasts (and an occasional lunch) for her seven “boys." Her "boys” in turn cut the grass, trim the bushes, and take care of the heavier jobs. (“Mom” quickly points out, however, that she would cut the grass herself, but “toting the lawn mower up the basement steps is pretty hard, you know.") Her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Miles Laflin, 1516 Geddes Ave., also lend a hand they drive her to the market once a week. Miss Bersuder moved to Ann Arbor from Dexter in 1914 after the deaths of her aunt and uncle. Her brother, Rudy, also lives in Ann Arbor, but recently has been hospitalized. When she first came here, Miss Bersuder lived at a women's boarding house, and did household chores for a living. She did household work nine years for the University before she bought her own home in 1943. In 1944 she began taking in roomers. But it wasn't until this fall that she finally raised the prices. They now range from a $6 top to a $3 minimum. "Many of my friends tell me to sell my house and live in an apartment," she says. "But I'd have so much time on my hands that I wouldn't know what to do with myself.” (She spent her "spare" time this fall-when the University was between sessions and there weren't any roomers around-by painting the walls and ceiling of a hallway.) "Besides, I like roomers because there's always someone around. There's always somebody coming or going. “They keep me pretty busy, but I don't mind." She says she usually has time to read the newspapers, “but that's about all I have time for; then I have to go to bed.” One of Miss Bersuder's favorite memories, is the time just after she had bought the house. “The lady who had it before me also had roomers, so she kept a janitor to stoke the coal furnace,” she said. “One day just after Christmas I discovered the janitor was negligent and almost burnt the house down. So I fired him.” She quickly called her brother and asked for instructions on how to fire up a coal furnace. From then on she did the job herself. "I told that janitor I didn't take any job I couldn't handle,” she said smiling.