Celebrating 102 years of life
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 8:11 AM
Everyone will see changes in the world during their lifetimes, but imagine the changes that have occurred during the last century and imagine experiencing all of it.
Louise Newhouse was born in 1911 and just celebrated her 102nd birthday!
Louise Newhouse of Spring Grove is one of the lucky few that have had such an experience. On Tuesday, March 5, she turned 102 years old.
Her 102nd birthday arrived on the day of the snowstorm that cancelled school and blanketed the area with 5 to 6 inches of snow.
"This changed the celebration plans slightly," Louise said with a little chuckle, "But, the snow can stop a lot of things, but it ain't stopping us from having fun!"
Newhouse grew up mostly in the Spring Grove area and is currently a resident at Tweeten Lutheran Healthcare Center where she joyfully celebrated her birthday with cake and ice cream.
"I should have a lot to say, but I'm tongue-tied," she remarked with a big smile at the beginning of her party.
After a little bit of prompting, Newhouse shared many memories. One of her favorite things to do as a teen was to go roller-skating and to go dancing.
"I think I danced many miles over the years," she exclaimed. When asked if she had a favorite dance partner, she remarked with a giggle, "anyone that was a good dancer!"
For five years, Newhouse worked for the editor of the Fillmore Times in Preston. She stayed at their home and did many things there like the washing, ironing, cooking and dusting.
The family took her along on all of their vacations as a companion for their daughter who was several years younger than Louise.
One of her favorite memories from these vacations was visiting the White House and sitting in President Hoover's chair and on his bed and wading into the Atlantic.
Another favorite vacation spot was Pike's Peak.
"It was different than what I was used to," she recalled. "When we started out at the bottom, it was warm, and when we got to the top, we needed heavy clothing! We could see seven cities from the top."
Newhouse came from a big family; she had six brothers and four sisters. Even with this many children, she still helped with a lot of the outside chores. She cleaned barns, fenced, fed animals and helped take care of the 600 baby chicks that they would get each year.
"We bought the chicks from the hatchery when they were only a few days old, and we would raise them until they were laying hens. I washed the water fountains and filled the feeders.
"We had a fence around their pen, and one time they got out through a hole. We saw a big hole under the chicken coop and saw a rattlesnake go under the house! We caught that snake, but they say where there's one, there's another. We never found another one!"
This reminded her of another snake encounter, "One time, I was planting flowers on a bluff, and I grabbed into some weeds to pull them out, and I grabbed a rattlesnake head!" she recalled with a little shiver.
"But it was dead; the ants had eaten most of it. It scared me, so I put it in a big bag, and we hauled it to the dump ground. We got there and found that it was closed for the day, so I threw the bag over the gate - I had to get rid of that snake!"
Newhouse and her husband, Owen, bought their first home about five miles from Spring Grove near Black Hammer for $3,400.
"We did a lot of remodeling and fixing on it, adding a room, a garage and a milk house. We sold it later for $80,000."
Louise's grandparents came from Norway, and she remembers them telling her that on the ship, they lived on a big barrel of flatbread and ale; that was all that they had to eat and drink - they could hardly wait to get to New York and have a hot meal.
When her grandma was ill, she and her sisters took turns taking care of her at her house.
"I was about 10 years old and my grandma couldn't speak English, and I couldn't speak Norwegian so it was hard to communicate. It was kind of lonely being there because of that; I could hardly wait for her bachelor son to get home because he could speak English and he would translate for us."
She went on to recall getting a special treat from her grandma. "She kept a bowl with sugar lumps in it in the cupboard; she'd give me one once in a while. She also had peppermint candies, no other kind, always peppermint. It was a big treat to get one of those candies," she remembered with a grin.
Louise's secret to living to 102? "I always worked plenty hard. I lived on a farm and did a lot of outside man work - I think it made me stronger."
Her advice for others? "Just keep working as long as you can."
Newhouse's parents were Albert and Clara McCallson. She and her late husband had one daughter, Beverly, who passed away at age 53.
She has three granddaughters, Bonnie Joranko (Kansas), Susan Benderson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and Kathleen Joranko (Cedar Rapids).