Happy 101st.

Spent yesterday down in the Metroplex with Nana, celebrating her 101st birthday.

Good Lord, the things that lady has seen.

She was born in Forreston, Texas in August of 1907. Horses were the primary means of transportation, followed by steam locomotives. There had never been a World War — much less two — and the thought was inconceivable.

The telephone had been invented, but none were to be seen in Central Texas for a while. Likewise, the Wright Brothers had flown at Kill Devil Hills some four years earlier, but it would be years after Nana’s birth before she and her family would see an aeroplane.

Edison had patented an incandescent light bulb; but Nana can remember seeing her first one.

Indoor plumbing was the exception, rather than the rule, and most families used well-water and detached outhouses for their plumbing needs.

When Nana was born, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, and she’s seen seventeen more in the Oval Office. There’ve been nine Popes, five Monarchs in Great Britain; and the United States consisted of 45 States on the day of her birth, with Oklahoma being admitted to the Union when she was three months old.

She remembers the RMS Titanic going down, as well as the RMS Lusitania, the Spanish ‘flu pandemic, the Great Depression and the first permanent Personal Income Tax law in the United States.

I can remember the awe and excitement over Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon, and I wonder if she felt something similar when she heard that Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic? Or when she heard that Robert Peary had reached the North Pole, or when Roald Amundsen found the South Pole?

I remember how things have changed since the Internet came into my home in 1999 — and I wonder how her life changed with the advent of first radio, and then television? Or the Interstate Highway System?

It makes me wonder if any other generation will ever see as much drastic change as my Nana. If anyone else will effectively go from horse-and-buggy to interplanetary travel? From telegraph to the World Wide Web? Or would want to?

Or — more importantly — would another generation handle such drastic change as gracefully as my grandmother?

Happy Birthday, Nana.


Stop the planet! I want off!
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18 thoughts on “Happy 101st.”

  1. Yeah, that generation saw a lot. My grandparents where of that generation.

    Their parents, who died very old in the late 40’s and early 50’s went, as my Grandmaman said, from being something in a world a medieval peasant would have recognized instantly, to telegraphs, radio, TV, aeroplanes to jet fighters, horses to trucks and cars, cannon balls to nuclear bombs, and 3 massive European wars.

    In old age they were uniformly perplexed and appalled by the modern world and at least one of them was relieved to “not have to deal with all this anymore”, she said from her deathbed.

  2. Happy Birthday, Nana, from all of us here in the OldeForce household.
    God Bless, and many more. And keep an eye on LawDog for us, please!

  3. Here’s to Nana, in all her pink Swarovsky splendour.

    And many more!

  4. I hadn’t seen you mention Nana in some time and that made me worry a bit about her a couple of times. I think the fact that I can feel affection for a woman I have no relationship with and only know of from reading your posts, all because you speak of her with such deep love and respect, says a lot about what an amazing woman she must be. The next time you hug her, please put a little extra love in it from me, if that’s possible.

  5. Time for the Flying Sheep Song!

    Hoppy Birdies, Two Ewes!

    I grew up around a few old folks who’d been taught at the feet of folks who’d survived the civil war… It’s a whole ‘nother outlook…

  6. Happy birthday to your Nana. 🙂

    Truly amazing, what that generation lived through. I would love to be able to see what they saw, and how they saw it. My generation very nearly grew up on the Internet, the next generation is growing up on the Internet…and they went from ankle-length dresses, horses, and the great novelty of autos, all the way to today’s jets, cell phones, medical advances…good grief.

    You *are* recording all of her stories that you can possibly get down, right?

  7. Your Nana is my hero. I hope I’m trying daring commando escapes from the hospital in my ninth decade.

  8. Not to mention that Nana survived a world with measles, German measles, chicken pox, mumps (she’s never had the latter two in over 40 years teaching), cholera, flu, typhoid (which she had and survived), pneumonia, with no vaccines, no sulfa or penicillin; antibiotics hadn’t been invented-and chest x-rays would make you glow in the dark.
    Both her grandfathers were in the Civil War, one of them having the Southern Cross of Honor. She knew both of them. Her great-grandmother knew Abraham Lincoln, and Nana lived to know her as well.
    Her father had the first car in town, and there was an antique crank phone still in use on her mother’s wall in the living room when I was a child.
    Her home had a well, there was no washing machine, her family kept horses to ride, and there were stoneware crocks kept in the smoke house, where meat was smoked and preserved. The crocks were dragged out to the screened-in back porch when her mother made kraut. Everyone in town knew when “Mrs. Doctor” was making kraut.
    There was a ‘starter’ of yeast given to her by her mother, kept on the kitchen cabinet in a smaller stoneware crock, and Nana’s mother gave each of her daughters a ‘start’ when they left home. I can remember ours sitting on our kitchen cabinettop.
    Nana, however, was ‘modern.’
    The first ‘icebox’ biscuit after WWII ended all the homemade bread-and the ‘starter yeast.’
    She and all her sisters, by hook or crook, got college degrees and, oh, dear, worked; she from the age of 15, when she first taught school.
    Every chance she got, she got on a plane and travelled. She flew with one engine and no oxygen, in canvas-winged planes and was probably safer than the present jets. Into her late 90s, she was still climbing into the car and going, going, going. If she could have, she’d probably have been the first nonagenerian in outer space.
    Quite a lady, yes, indeed.

  9. The day she was born was closer to the Jefferson Administration that to Bush 2. Amazing.

  10. I’ve been following ‘Nana’s latter years’ for about three years now LD.

    Glad to hear she’s still with us. You are a fortunate man. I still have both grandfathers and am in my early 40’s. Both are EXTREMELY healthy octogenarians. My children are wealthy beyond measure to have their great-grandfathers and two great-great-uncles.

    No material treasure compares.

    You are most fortunate LD. Tell Nana that many celebrate with her. The world is richer for her remaining.


  11. The 20th century changed the world more than the sum total of the ones before it, sofar as man is concerned, and your Nana saw just about all of it, with enough in this century to make up for the deficit.

    From horses to space ships.
    From telegraphs to Internet.
    From flickers and stereoscopes to modern movies and interactive computer programs.
    From T.R. to W.J.C. to G.W.B. to the threat of B.H.O.

    While she was a girl, Pancho Villa rode the border, and Gen. Pershing’s men rode after him, not all that far from where she grew up.

    Makes one think of the stories such people, the last of the Greatest Generation, can tell.

    Happy birthday to your Nana, LawDog.

  12. What a wealth of experience. Tell your Nana that we love her through your stories, and that she’s supposed to take care of herself so we can celebrate with her again next year!

  13. Makes me proud to share a birthday with your Nana. I’ve seen a lot less, of course, being closer to your age than hers, but I can appreciate it.
    Many happy returns of the day to her, if a tad late. Had to catch up on the archives, don’t ya know?

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