Mary Ann (Hornak) Kus
Mary Ann Kus is turning 100 on Monday, March 14 and her family is requesting people send her a birthday card in celebration of this milestone. Kus is not keen on the idea of a big, elaborate party, but birthday greeting cards are items she would enjoy – particularly from longtime friends and family.
Kus is, of course, not the only area person celebrating a 100th birthday this year, though even in 2022, it is still an impressive achievement. However, Kus, who was once a Hornak, has a strong connection to a certain area cabin now located in the Corunna Historical Village in McCurdy Park and having a clear mind, she was willing to share some of her memories about the Hobson-Hornak cabin, which dates back to 1862.
Kus was born March 14, 1922 in Corunna to Martin and Anna (Horak) Hornak. Her mother died during childbirth. Her father, Martin, remarried and her stepmother was also named Anna. She gained 3 step-siblings: Frank, Martin and Annie. She also gained two half sisters: Antonia and Lillian. The family home (above) was originally located on the northwest corner of Juddville and Geeck Roads. Kus has many fond memories of living in this nice little farm home. The home had four small rooms downstairs and one large room upstairs. The main house had no running water and an outhouse. She mentioned that her siblings loved to sing songs while her brother Frank played the accordion. She also shared that her stepmother loved to cook large meals. Christmas was very special because her father would bring the Christmas tree in on Christmas day, where they would decorate it with candles. Christmas was different back then where family members each received just one gift and it was an item of necessity. Oranges were also very popular. Kus also enjoyed going to the dance hall where Edgewood Gardens is today for a Polka or Waltz on Saturday nights. The Big Bands would come from Iowa, Illinois or Ohio.
Kus attended Corunna Schools until the 6th-grade, when St. Joseph Catholic School opened. She switched schools and graduated in 8th-grade. When she was 14, she recalls going to work for Edwin Ellis, the Owosso Mayor at the time, where she worked as a housekeeper, living upstairs. Kus also worked for Redmund’s in Owosso, repairing and testing war items. She also held a job at Corunna Manufacturing Company where she cut grill cloth for speakers for 25¢ per hour. She also worked for Bendick’s Airplanes – making airplane engines and testing the floats in the planes.
Kus met her husband, Emil Kus, while babysitting for her brother Frank and his wife Vivian. She married Emil in 1944, though she continued to live in the Hornak home until her husband returned from the war. The couple had five children: Emil, Jerry, David, Betty and Dan. The family lived on a farm on Pratt Road in St. Johns where they grew onions and mint. Sadly, Emil died on Feb. 13, 1959. Following her husband’s death, she found a permanent and longtime position working in “dietary” at Clinton Memorial Hospital where she worked until retirement and was a highly respected employee.
The Hobson-Hornak house was donated by the Martin Hornak Jr. family and moved to the village in Corunna in 1997. At one time, the home had been sided, but upon removing the siding, the log cabin was discovered.
Her family is putting together an album on her life. For those interested in sending Mary Ann Kus a birthday greeting or to share old photos/ memories, please mail to P.O. Box 492, St. Johns, MI 48879.