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82 year old senior citizen Rose Marie goes Cold Turkey
by Aubra Salt - The Oregon Herald
  Tuesday July 13, 2010 - 11:48 AM
Who says that a person in their 80's can't change their lifestyle and stop smoking?

Well, not Rose Marie of Port Angeles, Washington. After smoking cigarettes for nearly 70 years she was able to stop "Cold Turkey", a year ago, on her own, suddenly, and without hesitation.

Rose Marie Cross was born in Portland, Oregon and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Last year she was hospitalized with a malfunctioning Hiatal Hernia and a gall bladder that had to be removed. Her family of daughters, son, and grandkids hurried to her Hospital bedside, thinking the following hours may be her last. There was one complication after another but eventually the problematic Hernia was repaired and her gall bladder removed. But Rose quit smoking even before she left the hospital, not one puff, not one drag on those “nasty cigarettes” she had smoked for so long, a pack-a-day woman who raised her kids through two husbands in and around Portland, Newberg, Grand Ronde, Tillamook, and Cloverdale, Oregon.

Rose and her late husband Ted Cross moved to Port Angeles in the 1970’s, never to return to Oregon except for visits, which were far and few.

When asked how she was able to go “Cold Turkey”, she said "Well, I just knew I had to. I realized how nasty it was and I just didn’t want to have anything to do with them."

Rose Cross with her son, Jim, early 1950's Her great niece, Lori Pena, Park Manager at the popular Salt Creek Park near Port Angeles, Washington said, "She's an amazing women, always strong whatever she does. She acts like it was no big deal. She has more faith in herself than me. I thought she'd go crazy in her little house with nothing much to do. I should have know better. Shame on me. She has such a positive attitude. I admire that she doesn't brag about it. I remember her saying just the other day, "It's been a whole year since I quit smoking". She says it like something she did, like making lunch." Rose Marie lived near the corner of 13th and Powel Blvd in Portland, Oregon with her elderly parents who barely qualified for the lower end of middle-class suburbia. Rosie was left as an only child after her sister died suddenly of pneumonia in the 1930's. She was an adventurous, girlish teenager who snuck out to dances in the early 1940's. Just 15 and ready for excitement, Rosie, as her young friends and eager sailors called her, worked at a local cafe as a red-lipped, nearly hip waitress. She had a big easy smile and all the guys wanted to date the pretty teenager.

One day a young handsome stranger from Tennessee who spoke with a curious but pleasing accent strolled into the cafe. He had been in the war and he was exciting, at least more than the few remaining young men not in uniform. It was during the long hot days of World War II that they flirted, went everywhere together, fell in love, and soon were married. Her parents did not approve but Rose Marie had her own mind, and now a cute, curly-headed man eight years her senior was her daily companion. But her young man was just a boy, preferring to fish and hunt than work. And Rose went along with it all with a big smile. It was exciting. They smoked lots of cigarettes on their way to Tennessee, several trips in fact, and around the US by car. An old car. An inexpensive car filled with cigarette smoke, kids, and blankets. Early on in their marriage, they even joined a circus. The kids stayed with friends for a few months while the happy couple reenacted the movie, "It Happened One Night"... Rose Marie had six children by the time she was 22. No twins. The family was dead broke yet Rosie continued to find herself pregnant. Her husband Curly taught her the art of smoking Camels and Wings, and to shoot his gun. He was a part-time cop, part this and that, and a full-time goof-off. So Rosie had to keep the kids fed and clean. But times could be difficult in the bitter cold winter months near the summit of a small mountain in the Oregon wilderness. The family spent two years living in that run-down shack, about seven miles northwest of Grand Ronde, Oregon.

Young mother Rose Marie and child, late 1940's. Portland, Oregon. There was no indoor plumbing so water had to be hauled by bucket from a nearby spring, heated on a kitchen wood stove to fill the metal washtub, for each kid. Bath time was an experience. The children didn't seem to mind having to bath in tepid second-hand water. Beans, potatoes, and biscuits filled their second-hand navy plates. The kids competed to see who would be the proud but all too temporary beneficiary of the USN spoon at dinnertime. The outhouse was stationed good measure from the old homey shack the seven family members occupied. During the cold winter, the wind howled through barren rafters, down through non-insulated walls and thin linoleum floors. But there was plenty of fresh green wood, cut before frozen November rain pelted the old three-room shack and covered Douglas Fir with blankets of snow. The wet alder burned slow and it sizzled, black smoke sailing out of their chimney pipe. The entire family had worked to cut and stack wood for winter. And the winters were long but filled with Thanksgiving, Christmas hard candy, and February birthdays. They were all happy going about that family business and joy. Rose Marie was a mother. And she smoked cigarettes.

One year her ten-year-old son was caught teaching his younger sisters how to inhale and blow smoke rings. He probably thought it was cool or perhaps he was just bored. He had watched his parents blow fascinating smoke rings and imagined there must be something more to it. But father Curly forced each of the kids to eat a cigarette so they'd surely never want another. It must have been his own method of "Cold Turkey".

Rose Marie Cross (left) recovered from her hospital stay and lived a good life.  She died on October 14, 2014. It didn't work.

The years slowly passed as years do, but not nearly as fast as they do now for Rose Marie. And the family was more or less happy during those carefree days, sliding out of the 50's and into the next generation of the 1960's. But as certain as babies grow and flowers die, Rose Marie divorced that lazy curly haired man and married another with the proud name of Ted who had served as a gunnery pilot in the war. He had lots of war experiences he shared at length as he sipped beer with dignity and experience. He also smoked cigarettes. Lots of 'em.

And as women so often do, Rose Marie outlived those smokers by many years, spending her years comfortably parked in the woods next to her daughter Patsy, happy and secure in her own cozy trailer. No one really knew she was as strong as she turned out and no one had any idea she'd actually stop smoking those nasty cigs, and do so Cold Turkey. And this reporter is just as proud as anyone because I also quit smoking, many years ago. And now so has my mother, Rose Marie.

(Note: Rose Marie (pictured above left), after a good life with her family, died on October 14, 2014.)

Photo 1: Rose Marie 1940s

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