When Ella Wilson was born - Jan. 4, 1903 - Theodore Roosevelt was serving as President of the United States; she has since seen 18 presidents. Radios provided the news and family entertainment, horses were used for transportation and farm work, oil lamps lit the home and party telephone lines spread gossip about the neighbors quicker than lightning.
Ella, now 105, and a resident at Methodist Manor, has seen the world change by leaps and bounds. She experienced the invention of cars and faster cars, electricity, television, large farm equipment and so many things that made living life easier, she says.
"Things became more simplified for us,. 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."
She has cherished her life.
She celebrated her 105th birthday Friday with a special lunch at the new King's Pointe resort, where she was in awe of the lake view, followed by a party at the Manor with family and friends.
"Try to live right," is the advice she shares with her friends, relating to her longevity. "I try to be the best I can every year."
Ella loves living at Methodist Manor. It has been her home for the past 17 years and she praises the staff for the care she receives.
Reading has been a lifelong passion. For many years, she shared stories from the media with residents at the home who could no longer see to read. Now, she has become one of them, and she misses her reading.
She does feel it is important to keep up with the world and all that is happening. She doesn't much like television but enjoys listening to the radio, one of the favorite inventions of her lifetime, where she gets all the news.
Ella 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.
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.
Of all the changes she has seen, there are a few that she has managed to do without. The invention of the computer 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?"
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.
Prayer is important in Ella's life and she looks to God for guidance each morning.
"I must be here for a purpose," she has said. "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."
She concluded, "People have come and gone in my life but I think I have had the kind of life that everyone would love to have."
Happy birthday, dear Ella. Happy birthday, to you.