Born in 1918 (Just Like Wesbury)
When Wesbury was founded in 1918, a world that had been at war for almost four years, was about to be at peace. The world was reshaped in that aftermath of the Great War, and technological progress was moving forward. More and more Americans were driving cars, half of them Ford Model T’s, and Hollywood was starting to become our entertainment capitol. The golden age of radio was also just on the horizon.
There were other great inventions and innovations that came out that year. Nacho snacks would be forever changed when Velveeta cheese made its 1918 debut and toys we all know and love, Lincoln Logs and Raggedy Ann also made their appearance in the marketplace.
What was it like to see so much change and innovation and what is it that makes great things last? Over the years, Wesbury has seen many centenarians give commentary to our local paper on what it’s like to live a long life. They say things like “Just work hard,” or “I never drank, I never smoked, I lived a decent life.”
Currently, there are nine residents who are 100 years old or greater. Here are some of their thoughts on aging and what it has been like to experience the changes of the past 100 years.
According to Thoburn Village resident, Fran Wolford, she turned 100 in 2018, and attributes her longevity to the Lord who has been very good to her. Also having a good husband and two good children helped. Fran then says, “Well, my daughter is 80, and my son is 74, but I guess they will always be children to me.” She can’t say she particularly picked a healthy lifestyle, as she puts it, “We enjoyed life a lot, and back in the day we could dance all night if we wanted to.” To Fran, moving to Washington D.C. from living on a farm in Union City, PA in 1936 was an awesome experience. Franklin D. Roosevelt had just become President, and it was neat to be in the capitol at such exciting times. When they left the world was at war again. Fran moved to Wesbury two decades ago when the Garden Apartments were first constructed. She says over the past five years she has thought about making a move to Cribbs Residential Center, but with the assistance of having someone to come in to help with the cleaning and having so many friends nearby, she wants to keep “moving and grooving in Thoburn Village” where she still lives independently at age 100!
Also turning 100 in 2018 is Cribbs Residential Center resident, Frances Werling, who says her longevity is accredited to having great genes as her mother lived to be over 100. Frances grew up on the family farm and can discuss how members of her family came to the area in the early 1800s. Her family members, whose surname was known among barrel makers, came to the area because of the oil being discovered at Drake’s Well. “There was certainly a need for barrels after the discovery of oil,” says Frances. When asked what is the most awesome thing she has seen in her lifetime, Frances says, “I grew up a farm girl. Seeing the world around us go from using the horse and buggy for traveling to sending a man into space and later landing on the moon is pretty awesome!”
“If you don’t use it, you lose it!” is the mantra of Thoburn Village’s Alice Miller. Alice points to “staying busy and having things you like to do” for reaching her 100-year milestone in 2018. While she says she doesn’t get out like she used to, she still likes to go for a walk. Alice has enjoyed being active since she was young. She played basketball as a young lady in the 1930s and is even a Basketball Hall of Fame member. Today, she still enjoys watching sports on television and notes that one of the biggest changes she has seen over her lifetime is in the realm of entertainment. Alice likes to watch, as she says, “good” television in her spare time. It amazes her how many choices and channels are available to consumers today. She says, “I remember only having one or two channels on a big, boxy, old black and white TV (with a tiny screen) and now we have huge flat screens and more than 400 channels catered to all types of interests.”
While all three of these centenarians claim different reasons for reaching 100 years, there are the common threads of having things in your life you really enjoy doing, stay active, stay curious, live well and never stop being awestruck by our ever changing world.