Second Look column: 189 years of living

Linda Wallace, columnist

Reaching one hundred and four years old is quite an accomplishment, don’t you think? That is a lot of living. Our dear friend, Reva Coon is having her birthday today! I’m sending her love and kisses from all her many friends, and of course me. She is an amazing woman! I think her longevity stems from her varied interests and projects she’s been involved with.

About a year ago Reva was telling me about her life. She told me about her cousin, Albert Coop, who went into World War I. His mother and her mother were sisters. They attended the Methodist Church. She remembered helping her mother roll bandages at the church to help support the war effort. She said veterans who came back talked to the youth fellowship, of which she was a member. She said the soldiers said wars are never the answer to any problem. It just creates thousands of more problems. A very perceptive comment, don’t you think?

When Reva was born in 1904, our youngest president, Theodore Roosevelt, was in the White House. Teddy had written books about the Wild West. Every day thousands and thousands of immigrants arrived in America. Two of them were my great grandmother and grandfather from Switzerland. Most were from Europe or Asia.

In 1907, 11,747 immigrants came into this country through Ellis Island on a single day. One percent of the people owned 99 percent of the wealth in this country. In 1905 there was only 50 miles of paved roads.

Women were not allowed to vote in the United States. The suffragettes were women who fought for the right to vote, and we didn’t win that right until 1920. Reva was sixteen back then.

Reva has seen so many inventions in her lifetime. The first airplane took flight in 1903, one year before she was born. It was the automobile that changed life back then. Reva told me her father rode in a so-called automobile when she was in high school. Her father, Thomas McVey Patrick, never owned one, but his brother did. Her father said, “An automobile is an instrument of the devil.” But after he rode in one he thought maybe there was a place for it.

Her father was an old country father from Ireland. She says he was a strong disciplinarian, and modern times might call him abusive. She said, “You did what he said or you got what was coming to you.”

Reva has seen the invention of the telephone, indoor plumbing, central heating, vacuum cleaners, radios, television, movies, cell phones, and computers.

The first “real” movie, “The Great Train Robbery,” was only 12 minutes long.

When she went to school and went to physical education, girls wore balloon pants, black stockings, and flat-footed shoes. “We marched around the gym in military fashion,” said Reva.

Her mother would tell her, “In Armenia children are starving.”

Yes, Reva has experienced so many inventions and changes in her lifetime. She started teaching in 1926. She got married in 1929. They didn’t need a car because she could walk anywhere in Dunsmuir. If she did need to go somewhere, she went on the train.

She has many stories to tell. You would become a storyteller too, if you’d lived 104 years of life!

Next week you’ll hear about my dad, who is 85 years old today too. Yes, his life has been filled with amazing stories too. A cake for these two takes 189 candles.

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