Interviewed by Mari Martinez
March 23, 2014
MM: It’s March 23, 2014. My name is Mari Martinez; I work as a Spanish Services Associate at the St. Helena Public Library. And with me is…
MC: Marilyn Coy. I have lived in St. Helena since 1975. I came here for a part-time temporary teaching job at the high school in Home Economics. I was not married at the time. I’d been out of college for a couple of years, looking for a teaching job, and it was very tough to get a teaching job back in the 70s because there were so many college graduates that wanted teaching jobs. The Baby Boomers were stepping up to the plate. So I got offered a part-time temporary job. Bill Noble and Ted Holmgren interviewed me.
I took the place of Valerie Presten; she was going to take a temporary leave of absence. So I moved to St. Helena, not knowing anybody and started my job. I worked part-time in the school office to help subsidize my income, which was part-time, so that’s what I did. I lived over on Monte Vista in an apartment, and I just really enjoyed it. By the second semester, I had… my classes had jumped up to full time; I was teaching five different classes. I guess the students were attracted to a young teacher, maybe with some new ideas, hopefully.
So then the rest is history. Valerie decided not to come back, so I got the job, and I was there until 2006. So that was 32 years of teaching. My program… I taught Home Economics, but I taught Foods classes, I taught Sewing, I taught Child Development, Home Decoration, Interior Design. I also taught History classes: US History classes, World Cultures. I taught Math; I was Community Service Coordinator for a few years. I did Work Experience; I did a variety of things.
MM: Marilyn, where did you move from?
MC: I moved from the Bay Area. I was born in San Francisco and my family moved to Burlingame in time for me to start Kindergarten there. So I grew up in Burlingame. I went to Mills High School in Millbrae. I graduated from there in 1968, and then I went on to college at Chico State College. I graduated from the University, California State University at Chico, because they changed the name in 1972, and I got my credential in ’73. That’s when I moved back home and lived with my mom for a few years, substituted in the Bay Area, taught Adult School and worked in a fabric store.
MM: So St. Helena teaching was your first actual…
MC: My full-time… yeah, yeah. Where it was my own classroom. I had met my future husband right before I came up here for the interview. Then we decided to get married during my first year working in St. Helena. He said, “Well it was so hard for you to get your job, you have a full time job now, I will move from San Mateo to St. Helena. So then he went looking for a job, and he ended up getting a job at Wilcox Tractor in Rutherford, which he did for three years. Then he had Nick and Ray’s Arco in Deer Park. Then what did he do? Then he went to work for Water Dynamics, then he went to work for St. Supery Winery, and then he worked for Martini Winery. Then he went back to working for Pitney-Bowes, a territorial job where he went out and did repairs on business machines and postage machines. He did that until he retired in 2005. My husband’s name is Nick Coy, actually Louis Pierce Coy, but he goes by Nick. And we have two children that were born and raised in St. Helena, went to St. Helena schools: Nick Coy, (Nicholas Coy) and Pamela Coy.
MM: How old are they, your children?
MC: Nick is going to be 33 this year. He married Megan Anderson, who he met going to Chico State and they live in Napa, and they have one child, two weeks old today. Pam is a veterinarian in Fallon, Nevada. She went to UC Davis and then Davis vet school. She’s been up there for a couple years.
MM: You retired from teaching, when was this?
MC: 2006, and I thought, “Well, I’ve gotta do something.” So I went over to the library to see if I could work there on a part-time basis, or volunteer, but they didn’t have any volunteer positions, so I started working there in 2006, and I’m still working there part-time.
MM: So that was right away when you retired from school. So you haven’t stopped.
MC: No. Except for the summer, but now I don’t get my summers off.
MM: Wonderful. Is there any story, while you were teaching, that… maybe a lesson learned or something, an experience that just changed your world while you were teaching?
MC: Not really, but it’s fun now because I’m looking out into the audience and I see one of my ex-students right there. It’s so fun being in the community and running into ex-students, becoming good friends with them. My kids were friends with their kids, and so forth. It’s just the sense of community in St. Helena is pretty cool.
MM: Beautiful. And your family is having it too, now that you have your two week old infant.
MC: Yeah. It’s nice. It’s a very nice place to have ended up. I couldn’t imagine staying in the Bay Area and living there.
MM: What brought you to St. Helena, initially?
MC: The teaching job. I put out applications and resumé letters and they called and said, “Well, we have an opening. You wanna come and interview?” I said, “Sure will!” And it was close enough to the Bay Area to still go down there and visit family and that type of thing.
MM: Did you used to come here a lot when you lived…
MC: No, no. I had only come here once before when I was in college and we came up and did some wine tasting, and that was it. I’d never been here before.
MM: Wow. Incredible.
MC: That’s it.
MM: Yay! Thank you so much!
MC: You’re welcome.
MM: We’ll have to have you back and tell us stories about your grandchildren.
MC: Ok. Thank you Mari.