Turning 100: A Century Of Memories
It's hard to imagine life as it was 100 years ago. The main mode of transportation was still the horse. Running water and electricity in homes was rarely heard of and only a luxury the rich seemed to enjoy. But 100 years ago three residents in the area were just starting out in life.
Exactly a century ago today Bernice Nybakken Herman and Stella Hallett were being welcomed into the world, they were born only a few hours apart. Another local resident, Walter Romo, was just turning 2 years old. His birthday took place on Nov. 26.
After a century of living, Herman was able to recall much of the past century and make note of the changes that have gone by. Much of her memory is still sharp and her health remains in good shape. She was born in Canada, a daughter to American citizens. Sometime later down the road she had to spend months proving to the magistrate court. Herman somehow always knew she'd make it to 100.
"I've just been lucky," Herman said. "I always said I was going to be 100 one day."
She grew up North of Frazer, and then moved closer to Nashua for high school. Herman explained that she didn't graduate high school. In those days it wasn't as important for women, and they didn't work outside the home. Herman married in 1932. They bought a farm eventually from the family and lived there through most of the 1940s, until they had to move into Nashua so the kids could attend school.
"We bought our first new car in 1937, we paid $700 for it," Herman said. "It had no heater and you had to have frost shields to drive in the winter."
She said that the biggest changes she saw as a young woman were the telephone and electricity becoming part of daily life. She recalls her first electric stove in the late '40s or early '50s. She also remembers when Franklin Roosevelt became president and how the country changed. But the biggest change she recalls was the impact that television made. She explained that it was only broadcast at certain times in the day – and that much of the people in the area read about it, but TV didn't come to the area until later.
"We had visited relatives, maybe in Minnesota, that had a phonograph with records. They had a radio, but it was a while before we got our first TV. You don't know the value of things unless you go without."
The television changed the culture. Herman said that she remembers a more tight-knit community, where neighbors visited with each other and shared a meal on a regular basis. She remembers a time where there was more togetherness in the community.
Herman and Hallett were neighbors in Nashua. They went to some of the same dances, but didn't meet and become friends until after she was married. Hallett lived in Glasgow soon after and they saw each other from time to time. Herman is only two hours older than Hallett, who wasn't able to be interviewed but now resides at Valley View, Herman is just around the corner at Prairie Ridge.
Herman, who has two children, three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and 14 great-great grandchildren, with one on the way, attributes her longevity to eating healthy, staying active and never being severely ill over the years.
"I'll live as long as the good Lord tells me to stay," Herman said. "I just enjoy everything I can, one day at a time."
Romo was on the other end of the county. He was born in Bainville, the third of seven children, on Nov. 26, 1911. He just celebrated 102 years. Like Herman, he didn't finish his high school education. Instead he went to work right away to help pay for the family expenses. His daughter, Julie Belcher, explained that he worked all over the area.
"He met his wife at a dance in 1935 and they were married in 1936," Belcher said. She recalled a story from her mother, where she had asked who the dancing fool was. Romo liked to dance.
The couple was married for 72 years before Romo's wife passed away. Belcher said that they were always together and many times worked together. They spent their 70th wedding anniversary on an Alaskan cruise and took their maid of honor with them.
He worked as a pumper for the railroad. He built a homemade trailer home in the '30s and at one point they transported a chicken coop to live in. After working for the railroad for a few years he decided to try a different line of work. He drilled water wells. One of his biggest projects he helped work on was working to build the Fort Peck Dam.
Once Romo got a chance to homestead in Saco he took it. He bought his uncle's land and started farming. Belcher said he's been a part of farming since 1951. When asked on how her father could attribute to his longevity, she said he was a hard worker and didn't smoke. He grew his own garden, ate fresh and healthy foods and always kept fit.
"He also always kept a good attitude; he was always positive," Belcher said.
Romo has three children, 10 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren. Belcher said that he enjoyed playing cards and he always loved to drive. He kept his driver's license until he was 99 years old.
As these local residents pass the century mark, their memories live on through their families. A hundred years to look back and reflect on life seems like a lot of experience, but these folks will tell you that it went by quickly.