This is my 100th post.
This year, Bakersfield College is celebrating our 100th anniversary…but so is a special person here in Bakersfield. Marian Triplett, born in 1914 with twin sister Jeanne, turns 100 this year, and her granddaughter Cassie, emailed me to let me know the family was having a special celebration for Marian. It became a city-wide celebration as Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall stopped in to present a proclamation to Marian, and I stopped by for a chat and to give Marian Bakersfield College’s Centennial Book. With two quick phone calls, The Bakersfield Californian and KGET-TV 17 NBC knew of the celebration, and came to tell Marian’s story to the community.
On February 6, 1914, Marian Naomi was born prematurely at home, the second-born twin of her sister Jeanne. Marian was small and weak, and her color was not good. The doctor thought she would not live, but her father, James Triplett, gave her a reviving teaspoon of whiskey, and a box in the home oven served as her incubator. According to family lore, the story spread that “twin triplets” had been born. People came from miles around to their home in Fullerton, California, expecting to find six babies.
When Marian started school, she had trouble learning to read, and she repeated the first grade. Her father said, “No child of mine will wear glasses,” because he felt that wearing classes showed disability. However, her mother, Flossie Stalnaker, prevailed, and Marian finally got her glasses. She learned to read, and she loved it. As part of the “Library Class” at Whittier High School, Marian worked in the school library every day.
Marian attended “beauty college” after high school graduation. Her husband, Meryl Sutliff, had to drop out of college to help his mother after his father died. Even though neither Marian nor Meryl had been able to earn a college degree before they married and started their family, Marian always told her three children, “When you graduate from college…,” not “if.” She is proud that all three of her children have earned Master’s degrees.
After her children were raised and her husband had passed away, Marian earned a librarian assistant certificate from Bakersfield College. She had always wanted to work in a library, and “Marian the librarian” went to work at the Beale Memorial Library and volunteered at the Emerson Junior High School library. An annual award was established in Marian’s name to honor an enthusiastic student reader at Emerson.
Finances and family postponed Marian’s higher education, but her love of reading has never diminished. Marian returned to Bakersfield College in her 70s and earned her own college degree. Now, at 100, she still reads the paper every day. Not bad for a baby who wasn’t expected to live and a girl who couldn’t learn to read!