Bernie and Marvel Mayotte
The Mayottes have been married thirty-seven years-the second marriage for both. Together, they have eleven children, twenty-two grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. How they met, Marvel jokes, is "a very dirty story."
Bernie was excavating at his house on Ann Arbor's south side to make a larger basement. He was divorced and raising eight kids. "I had all this dirt, and someone said, 'Why are you hauling this away? There's a lady in the neighborhood who could use it for her yard.' So I offered it to her."
Recently divorced and raising two young daughters, Marvel wasn't looking for a husband. "I just wanted my freedom, but he wouldn't leave me alone!" What hooked her, she says, was his ability as a dancer. They combined families under Bernie's roof and had one child together, a son, who's now thirty-six.
"I guess I was out of my mind when I did it," Marvel says of raising eleven kids. "It was a big transition." She did the kitchen work, but the kids did their own laundry and slept in bunk beds in the four-bedroom house. Now grown, they live "coast to coast and north to south," Marvel says, with four still in the area.