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Published: Wednesday, 10/2/2002

Centenarians share memories of earlier time

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mary Miller, left, and Florence Marx share a cake to celebrate their 100th birthdays at Browning Masonic Community in Waterville. Mary Miller, left, and Florence Marx share a cake to celebrate their 100th birthdays at Browning Masonic Community in Waterville.
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On her birthday, Mary Miller had the whole world in her hands.

“I have always wanted a globe of the world,” said Mrs. Miller, who lives in an apartment at the Browning Masonic Community in Waterville. “It took me 100 years to get one.”

She loves the gift, a lighted orb that she spins around to pin-point countries mentioned by newscasters these days.

“There certainly are many things going on, but world events do not mean as much at my age,” she said in the apartment she shares with 200 decorative pigs.

On another floor of the apartment complex, Florence Marx is counting down the days to her 100th birthday on Oct. 10. Both women were honored during a birthday party at the community recently.

Mrs. Miller, who turned 100 on Aug. 8, lived in an apartment on Douglas Road in Toledo for 29 years, but moved to Browning a few months ago after she broke her leg while putting up a Christmas ornament.

“It was Christmas Eve. I was in the kitchen putting up the ornament, and the ladder went one way, and I went the other,” she said. Now she uses a walker, but she still welcomes the chance to go on trips with other Browning residents to restaurants, parks, and other places.

A graduate of Waite High School, Mrs. Miller was a bookkeeper at a drug store in the Tiedtke's Department Store building for several years before she got married. The couple never had children.

She has many fond memories of Tiedtke's, such as the wonderful smell of fresh-ground coffee; the massive cheese wheel; fresh flowers and candies from departments on the first-floor of the store. “Tiedtke's was quite an attraction.”

After her husband, Gordon, who was in the contracting business, died many years ago, she took care of two elderly aunts, her mother, and a friend who was bedridden.

When Mrs. Miller was a youngster living in a country home on Corduroy Road near Toledo, she took care of a pig named Isaac, a critter who drank from a doll's bottle and “went in and out of our house and never made a mess. I don't know if my mother trained him, but he was always a good pig.” She dressed the pig in doll's dresses and took him for rides in her doll buggy.

Memories of Isaac, the pet pig, are kept alive thanks to Mrs. Miller's ever-growing collection of glass and porcelain porkers who peer down from shelves. A black-and-white pig props open a door. A stuffed one is parked next to her on the sofa. She presses a button and the pig grunts a medley of children's songs.

Mrs. Miller, who has been an avid reader throughout her life, remembers horse-drawn carriages, her family's first telephone (you had to crank it to make it work), and seeing an airplane fly overhead for the first time. “I never thought I would see an airplane. That was something,” she said.

Sometimes she talks about the “olden days” with Mrs. Marx when they share table space in the dining room at Browning.

Mrs. Marx, who was born in a log cabin in Rimer in Putnam County, lived in Toledo most of her life, but she also lived in Florida for 34 years.

Her grandfather, a Civil War veteran, built the two-story log cabin. She keenly recalls the afternoons spent snuggled against her grandfather, listening to his stories. Sometimes, she recalled, he talked about the war.

Mrs. Marx, whose son lives in Delphos, was an orthodontist assistant at the Nicholas Building in downtown Toledo for 10 years. She has fond memories of art lessons at the Toledo Museum of Art, a two-month trip to Europe, and vacations at ranches in Arizona and Colorado.

“These were not dude ranches. They were working ranches. We went out horseback riding and we worked with the cowboys, with the wranglers. We helped wrangle the steers,” she said.

Today she likes to travel nearby, such as going for picnics at Oak Openings Preserve metropark, and enjoys eating at Toledo-area restaurants.



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