Fair celebrates ‘Experienced Persons Day’

Steve Gerace
Married for 65 years, Thomas and Wanda Malone of Lake Shastina won the Siskiyou Golden Fair's Longest Married Couple plaque for the second year in a row on Aug. 8 in Yreka.

Wanda Malone of Lake Shastina says everybody thought she was crazy when, at the age of 17, she made it known that she was going to marry a man who was eight years her senior.

Sixty-five years later Wanda and her husband Thomas received the Longest Married Couple plaque during Friday’s Senior Day at the Siskiyou Golden Fair in Yreka.

“It worked out, that’s all the matters,” Wanda said after recalling that initial reaction of family and friends.

This was the second year in a row the Malones took home the married couples plaque from the Fair, and they got a bit of ribbing from Lanky the Clown, who emceed this year’s Senior Day program sponsored by Medical Center Pharmacy & Compounding.

“You robbed the cradle,” Lanky told Thomas, age 91, who also received the King plaque that goes to the oldest man present for the


“Considering my age, I figure you use it or lose it,” Thomas said after the event when asked how it felt to be King.

He said he just finished doing some exterior painting on their Lake Shastina home at noon on Friday, and he and Wanda arrived at the Senior Day program just minutes before it began at 1 p.m.

When Thomas started talking about his background as a radio man, veteran of World War II, and employee of General Dynamics in Pomona, Calif., after the war, Wanda chuckled, “Now he’s going to tell you his life story.”

Wanda said they met in Big Springs, Texas, when she was working at a “5 and 10 store, selling candy.”

“I had a sweet tooth,” said Thomas.

They lived in southern California until Thomas retired at age 66, then heard about Lake Shastina from a friend of Wanda’s, Margaret Chirch, who lived there at that time.

Blue skies and a light breeze greeted seniors for Friday’s Fair program, which included awards and a few offbeat contests, such as tortilla throwing and bean spitting.

A suggested donut eating contest drew no takers.

All seniors age 62 and over were treated to free admission to the fair for what Lanky the Clown called “Experienced Persons Day.”

The program included brief performances by cowboy poet Tony Argento and a non-stop string of jokes from Lanky.

The Malones were one of several couples present who had been married for more than 60 years.

Plaque winners were:

Longest Traveled to the Fair –  Joe and Jan Pardini, ages 83 and 70, from Tampa, Florida.

Longest Married Couple –  Thomas & Wanda Malone, ages 91 & 82, from Lake Shastina, married 65 years.

Most Grandchildren – Ada Bedell, 70, of Etna, 28 grandchildren.

Oldest Siskiyou County Native – Clarice Cink, 94 (two weeks shy of 95), Yreka.

Queen (oldest woman present) – Clarice Cink, 94, Yreka.

King (oldest man present) –  Thomas Malone, 91, Lake Shastina.