Ella Snyder, 1, has her eyes on the cake of her great-great grandmother, Ester Evenson, at her 100th birthday party.
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ARCHBOLD - After decades of hard work - hanging wallpaper, waiting tables, selling dry goods, sewing dresses, washing dishes, baking bread, tending the garden - Esther Evenson savors each delicious quiet moment alone.
"I'm at peace by myself," she said on a recent spring morning, just days before her 100th birthday. In her Fairlawn Heights apartment, Mrs. Evenson spends hours reading, watching television, and doing needlework.
Although she learned to crochet when she was a little girl, she didn't have time for needlework as a hobby until recent years. Today, she is known as a gifted artist with nimble fingers and a generous heart. A self-described perfectionist, Mrs. Evenson creates lovely pot holders, handbags, sweaters, and afghans with colorful thread and hooked needles. "I do everything to give away," she said, recalling one time when she made 13 handbags. "I did not even keep one for myself."
Without her knowing about it, her daughter Charlene Snyder of Toledo entered one of her crocheted sweaters in the Fulton County Fair, and it won a top award. "She does beautiful work," said Mrs. Snyder. "I've tried to get her to sell her work, but she likes to give it away."
A current project? Fixing the sleeve on a blouse. "I have a little sewing machine that I use," Mrs. Evenson said.
Born to Mark and Ella Sebring on a farm near Fayette on April 22, 1905, Esther had four brothers and three sisters. Her father was a mail carrier. "He carried mail by horse and wagon for 20 years," she said, adding that her mother was a wonderful cook who baked bread and canned vegetables.
"Dad would buy butter by the gallon at a nearby farm," said Mrs. Evenson who lived in Fayette until five years ago when she moved to Archbold. "When I was growing up, we all had our jobs at home. I would do anything I could to help."
She attended school through her junior year. "I am sorry I didn't graduate, but I have done pretty well," she said.
In 1923, she married Charley McLaughlin. The couple, who had two children, ran a wallpapering business for 12 years. After her husband was killed in a truck crash in 1943, she worked in a dry goods store, a restaurant, and a frozen food market in Fayette. She later married Carl Evenson, a Greyhound bus driver, and they lived in Chicago for six years before settling back in Fayette.
Although she relishes time by herself, she adores her family and loves to spend time visiting with them. Several relatives came to Archbold last weekend for Mrs. Evenson's birthday party. In her cozy, tidy apartment, dozens of family photographs grace the walls and shelves. "I have a nice family. They all mean so much to me," she said.
Sadly, she has seen much sorrow in her life. During one particularly painful period, seven of her close relatives died within a five-year span. Drawing strength from her faith and her family, she "got through it."
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