I can't tell you all the doors and all the experiences this column opens for me! It certainly has enriched my life. I'll bring you up to date on my latest adventure.
On Monday I received a call from a Dorothy Schneider whom I didn't know. She and her family read the column, and they are friends of Turk Murphy whom I wrote about, so she though I might be interested in a story she had to tell. Boy, did I get blessed! She has a mother-in-law who will be 100 years old June 17. She wanted me to interview her and tell her story. Of course, I was very interested, but I'll never be able to find their place in the country. As my brother-in-law Charlie Rotunda used to say, "Where Christ lost His shoes." He had the darndest expressions!
Getting back to the story, Dorothy said she'd be glad to pick me up and take me home. I really appreciated that because I hate getting lost. We agreed.
Helen L. Ostrye will turn 100 years old on June 17.
On Tuesday I met Mrs. Helen L. Ostrye of Forestville. First, I couldn't believe her daughter-in-law's age because she looks like 50. Then Mrs. Ostrye did not look like or act like a centenarian. I'll start at the top. She has more hair than I do. Then her blue eyes are sharp and alert. She has few wrinkles. But most of all, what doesn't show, is her mind. She is as sharp as a tack. No matter how far back I went, she remembered everything!
She was born Lucy Belle Lawton. As she grew older, she didn't like the name "Lucy" so she added Helen in front of it. That's the kind of woman she is. A woman of action!
Helen came from a family of 10 children. They lived on a farm in Irving on Buffalo Road. On this farm they planted potatoes, carrots, onions and many vegetables. They had chickens for the eggs and a cow to provide for their dairy needs. The father worked the farm and the children helped when they could.
Helen said people were so nice. If there were disagreements among the family or neighbors, nobody got mad and held a grudge. And in those days they all ate dinner together and talked, not like now when kids are so busy with their toys, computers, cellphones, etc. Helen said they used to walk 2 miles to school. Their school was in Hanover. It only went as high as the eighth grade. After that you had to pay tuition and they had no money for that. I wonder if our children appreciate the opportunity they have.
For fun they used to play tag, hide and seek, feed bag races, Annie over (whatever that is), basketball, baseball, and horse shoes.
At the age of 20 she married Frank Schneider. They were married for 13 years before he passed away in 1943. They had three children: Ida, Milton and Agnes.
After two years she married Raymond Ostrye of Center Road (now deceased). They had four children: Nicolas, Victoria, Theresa and Michael. All seven children are living, and I think most of them are close by. They check up on her all the time. A grandson lives with her. She cooks for both of them. She wears a life line and she feels very secure.
Helen said her father used to take her down by the water and talk to her. He taught her many facts of life and he made her aware of nature. He said if you keep moving a lot, you'll have nothing. Stay put and you will accumulate a lot of things.
"Don't want everything everyone else has," he said.
He gave her this example: "If a dog has a bone in his mouth and is crossing a bridge, he sees his reflection in the water. He opens his mouth to get the other bone and loses the one he has."
I asked her if she had any advice for a good marriage.
"Be honest and do everything together that you can," she replied. "Learn to compromise. For example, we were going to wallpaper a room. I picked out one pattern and he picked out another. We threw them both out and chose something we both liked."
For Helen's 90th birthday, Dorothy and her husband Milton held a party for her and invited her school teachers Arthur Bernot and Glenora Shero. (I wonder how old they were). Helen said they influenced her a lot!
Helen has great determination. Her principles are "never give up - just keep going. Ignore the aches and pains. Go out every chance you get."
On June 17 Helen will be 100 years old. The family will be celebrating at the Sheridan Community Center starting at 1 p.m. Everyone is invited. If you can't come, cards would be appreciated.
Helen has 16 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild and more are soon coming. What a legacy this woman is leaving!
Would you ever think she is 100 years old?
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org