6/19/2013 3:31:00 PM Matthews shares wit, wisdom at 100 years old
Nephews, niece help Matthews hold cakes.
Marge Matthews, a resident of Red Cedar Village in Rice Lake, observed her 100th birthday June 11 at a party with relatives. Partygoers reminisced about life in 1913, the year she was born. Matthews was born in Omaha, Neb., the second of five children, and has outlived them all. After graduating from Omaha Technical High School in 1930, she moved around, living for a time in Los Angeles on the West Coast; Newark, N.J., on the East Coast; and for several years in Chicago, where she worked as a stenographer. With no sons or daughters of her own, she moved to Haugen about 34 years ago to be near her niece. With a Bohemian/Hungarian nationality, she fit into the village well and enjoyed seven trips to Europe. She moved into her Red Cedar Village apartment 22 years ago. "She's a very wise woman with a wonderful sense of humor," said Janice Olson, assistant director of the Rice Lake Housing Authority. Olson said that Matthews, while in her 90s, paid for catered meals on two of her birthdays that were served to all the residents of the building. "She went all out," Olson said.
How times have changed Two nephews of Matthews spoke about the price of things 100 years ago. As for food, a dozen eggs cost 35 cents, bacon cost 32 cents a pound, sirloin steak was 25 cents a pound and ice was 40 cents for 100 pounds. A newspaper cost a penny and a silent movie, which Matthews remembered attending, cost 10 cents. Famous at that time was Fatty Arbuckle. Also born in 1913 was Burt Lancaster. A Model T car sold for $550 and gas was 8 cents a gallon. Gold at that time sold for $18.92 an ounce, which now stands for 100 times that amount. The U.S. president in 1913 was William Taft, who upon leaving office became a university president and was paid the exorbitant salary of $5,000 a year.
Taste for root beer Asked what the secret was for a long life, Matthews replied, "I didn't know there was a secret." She added, "It's all in the way you live-if you walk, what you eat, how you sleep." Matthews now enjoys a daily can of A &W root beer but had no luxury when she was young. She reminisced about how she ate when growing up. "When I was young, I helped my mother with the garden," Matthews said. "We had a lot of vegetables. Sometimes we just had produce and homemade bread. Sometimes we just ate bread and jelly sandwiches." She said they made jelly from gooseberries, currants and grapes. They also raised chickens and ducks. Her mother would grab a chicken for Sunday dinner and chop its head off with a hatchet. But if it squawked too much, she let it go and grabbed another. Matthews was asked if she ever had pets. "We always had a dog and sometimes we had a cat," Matthews said. "When our dog got lost, we got another and sometimes it left and came back." One of her saddest memories is seeing her dog get hit by a trolley or street car. "We buried him in the yard," Matthews recalled. "That was the end of that dog."