Preston man still excited to meet new people, experience new things after 100 years of life.
Thursday, March 07, 2013 6:56 AM
The life of Amos Anderson - all 100 years of it so far - has been a testimony of the value and sustaining power of relationships. His involvement in several Preston organizations, his career in the postal service and his overall perspective on life have influenced the numerous associations he has maintained and continued to form throughout the past century.
Amos Anderson relaxes at his home at Traditions of Preston in his pin-filled Lions Club vest. He has been a member of the Lions for 35 years and been a part of many other Preston organizations throughout his 100 years.
"I'm always interested in meeting new people," he stated.
The early years
Amos was born on Feb. 16, 1913, and grew up near Peterson on a crop and dairy farm.
His father, Aaval Anderson married twice in his life. In his first marriage, he had seven children and in his second marriage with Amos's mother, Josephine Larson, they had four more children.
When the Great Depression hit, Amos said his family wasn't affected by it that much. Having a large family meant one got more rations in the ration book. Growing up on a farm with cows and planting a garden were things that helped as well.
"A lot of them didn't have much to go on, especially the city people," he recalled.
Amos grew up right along the Root River. He said he caught a lot of bass there in his day. Fishing on the Root River was something that stayed with him throughout his entire life. In fact, when he was a teenager, Amos formed an old-time music band and named it the Root River Ramblers. He, his brother, Clarence, and Clarence's wife used to perform at an old riverside dance hall. Amos played the accordion and loved collecting them; he claims to have had around 14 of them in his house at one time.
At his 100th birthday party, Amos was able to enjoy music from Casey and the Good Timers band.
"I had a lot of fun in my life. I didn't sit around much," Amos said.
Before he married, Amos and three other friends took a two-door Model A on a road trip out west. "We spent two weeks driving in a big circle," he recalled. Gas was much cheaper then and Amos said one could drive all day on just a dollar. The group went out to California and looped back to Minnesota. They survived on a bag of potatoes they brought with them.
One of the few times Amos had been forced to stay still was when he came down with double pneumonia when he was 17. He got so sick, he lost all his hair. A long-time friend, Richard Johnson, said before he got sick, Amos had straight hair. After he gained his strength back during the spring season, his hair started to grow back, but it was curly instead!
When Amos suffered a minor stroke a decade ago he had to have his hair all shaved off, but it still grew back as thick as ever. To this day, Amos sports a full head of hair.
Marriage, war and organizations
Amos married his wife, Helen, on April 22, 1936, when he was 23. "It was rainy, cold and miserable," he said laughing.
He and Helen went over to Winona that day to get some walleye from the fish market for a big supper his sister made that night. "That was really quite a deal," he said.
Amos and Helen started a family in Peterson and had three children. In 1944, he was drafted into the Army and went to France near the end of WWII, fighting in Europe.
"It was hard to leave," he recalled, "but everyone else was doing the same thing."
While in Europe, Amos spent some time in southern France and eventually moved near Berlin. He was responsible for much of the cleanup and immediate recovery efforts, especially in Berlin where the Battle of Berlin had concluded in 1945.
According to Amos, the war was something he wanted to get into, serving his country with pride.
Upon returning, Amos became one of the charter members of the Preston VFW in 1946 and also its first commander. He was commander again in 1986 and has served on the color guard and participated in post activities. He was also a member of the American Legion and served as its commander in 1955.
Throughout his life, Amos has always been a faithful member of the organizations he's been a part of.
"I kind of like to belong to stuff," he said.
Since 1978, he has also been a member of the Preston Lions Club and has a purple Lions vest full of pins to prove it. He was secretary of the club for 10 years and participated in all the service events and social functions. He also enjoyed attending zone meetings and conventions, where he could meet more people and add to his pin collection.
At the Feb. 18 Lions Club meeting held at Traditions of Preston, the District Governor Elect Earl Orvik congratulated Amos on his lifetime of service and presented him with four additional pins and a place a of honor at the next Lions Convention.
His continued dedication to many of the organizations in Preston also extended to his work life. As the postmaster for 35 years and a mail carrier before that time, Amos got to know many people throughout Fillmore County.
"I probably know everyone in Preston," he stated. That statement is close to fact, judging by the large number of people who visited him on his birthday celebration at Christ Lutheran Church. Much of his family also visited him on his special day, including his grandson, Chris, who lives nearby in Rochester.
The importance of people
Chris Anderson got to know his grandfather quite well when he was growing up. As one of nine grandchildren, he would often visit and stay at Amos and Helen's house in Preston during the summers after his junior and high school years.
"We would hang out and go fishing," he recalled, adding that he always spent time working in the vegetable and flower garden Amos maintained.
"We have a one-on-one friendship," explained Chris.
Socializing is very important to Amos and according to Chris, "He could strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere. Most people don't have that characteristic."
Amos has an appreciation for family and kids, he said. Chris also explained that many people know Amos because they remember him delivering the mail to many of the large farm families whose kids have since grown up and stayed in the area.
Chris said he thinks Amos has lived to be 100 because he thrives off of the vitality of those who are younger and because he puts real butter and pepper on everything.
"He tries to learn as much as he can and he doesn't want to miss anything that's going on. He wants to be around for other people," Chris added.
Amos's faithfulness to others transfers well into his religious life.
As a longtime member of Christ Lutheran Church, Amos had served as the head usher for a decade.
"He has an eagerness to meet together with others for encouragement," shared the Rev. Dave Jore.
Fellow head usher and Lions Club member Arnie Keene said Amos hardly ever missed a Sunday worship service. "He knew everyone by name."
According to Amos, "Church was something I really like to go to." The shared purpose and faith he has with others keeps him going. Going to church was something his mother encouraged and was interested in. "We would walk to church, even in the snow. It's a good policy, going to church."
Getting along with people is something Amos feels people should do, especially in the family.
"That's the whole thing - the family," he shared. "Without family you would be a ball up in space, you wouldn't have any roots."
That perspective has been one Amos has kept throughout his entire life and has complemented his ability to get to know others. "The main thing is trying to get along with people," he shared. "If you get along with people, you've got nothing to worry about."
Amos's wisdom comes along with a never-ending wit. The staff at Traditions shared that ever since Amos became their first resident three years ago, he has shared his humor and friendliness with everyone.
"He's got a big heart and you can tell by the way he shakes your hand," shared one of the workers. Amos's firm handshake shows people quickly that he cares and is interested in what you have to say.
Many stories could be told about Amos and his continuing story, but he is perfectly content to live day-by-day.
"I live one day at a time, and if I'm satisfied with that, I live for one more," he concluded.