Century of invention
Ella Wilson has reached another milestone in her life. She celebrated her 104th birthday with friends and family - as well as her requested cake and homemade ice cream!
"I'm in dreamland," the Methodist Manor resident said of the big event. She added that the new year of her life started out right on Thursday and she awaits what it will bring.
Ella has been a resident at the Manor for 16 years and praises the staff for the care she receives at her "home."
Up until a few months ago, one of Ella's passions was reading the newspaper - after discarding the sports section, she says, and sharing stories with residents who could no longer read. Her own eyesight is changing and it is difficult for her to read now. She does miss it.
It is important, she feels, to keep up with the world and all that is happening. She doesn't much like television but enjoys the radio, one of the favorite inventions of her lifetime.
"I'm a radio person and I'm dedicated to Paul Harvey," she commented.
In a wheelchair, Ella has transported herself from her room to the dining room to the solarium to take part in activities - until Thursday. She decided it is time for some royal treatment - after all, she said, "I am 104." So she has given up "driving" and though it will be difficult, she will now depend on others to maneuver her around.
Ella has had a wonderful life.
"People have come and gone in my life but I think I have had the kind of life that everyone would love to have," she said. "I must be here for a purpose. I don't know why but I do know I love people and I have always taken time to help people. I have always tried to make people happy; it's just in me to be a watcher. Maybe I'm a guardian angel. I feel I am needed."
Ella was born Jan. 4, 1903. She attended school near Climbing Hill and despite the two-mile journey each way to school each day, she loved it.
When she had completed the highest grade at the country school, she continued her education at the town school, which was over four miles away.
"We had no cars so each family had riding horses. I rode old Tony. He was a pacer and was all right going to school but going home, he raced, especially in the winter. He just wanted to get home!" The school featured a barn for the students' horses - a precursor to the bus barn.
After graduating from high school, with a class of five in 1923, she landed a job in a combination physician/dentist office. Two years later, she married Carl Hagemann.
"It was a beautiful day," she said of the Dec. 23 wedding. The couple drove to Sioux Falls in the brand new 1925 Ford Roadster he bought as a wedding gift to Ella for $525.
Ella talked of the many changes she has seen over the 104 years of her life on the farm she and her husband resided.
"Things became more simplified for us. Like butchering - that was always a big job. Later we were able to quit doing that and take the hogs to town and have someone else do it. Then tractors came out and then combines, replacing threshing machines. And electricity - we didn't have to use lamps anymore or clean those little chimneys. We were conservative when we got electricity because we didn't know all that it meant."
The old telephone lines, still make laugh, especially when she thinks about how some enjoyed listening in on their neighbor's conversations. "We didn't have time for that," she said.
Ella's husband Carl died in 1971. She moved to Storm Lake in 1976 and married Harrison Wilson in 1978. He died 10 years later.
Ella moved to the assisted living portion of the Manor when she was 86 and after breaking a hip when she was 95, she has lived in the care center.
There are a couple of things that she doesn't like in today's world. the invention of the computers is one of them. "I would rather use my mind. We have to use our minds." She added that her family has tried to get her interested in the computer world and she refuses.
The other thing she doesn't like is that everyone is always in a hurry.
"Where are we going? We all hurry so, that's life today and it bothers me. In my younger days, land's sake, we were at such leisure. Is the world traveling that fast? I don't draw my drapes at night because I love to see the stars. I watch the moon and it travels by so fast; everything is traveling so fast."
Ella is content traveling at a slower pace and enjoying her family and friends; she always has a friendly hello for everyone.
Tracing back other members in her family, Ella said the oldest lived to be 92. She considers herself special for having lived such a wonderful life.
"I prayed to God just this morning (her birthday), 'God, you are the one guiding me.'" She doesn't have any big secrets to reveal on how to live as long as she has but she shares this piece of wisdom.
"If you live a true life, you can't go wrong."
Happy birthday, dear Ella. Happy birthday, to you.