Friday, February 5, 2010

100 and Counting

Here is a newspaper article about my Great- Grandma turning 100 year old.

North Las Vegas resident Helen Jensen, who is 100 years young, was honored during the recent State of the City address, garnering a standing ovation and handshakes galore.
For the centenarian, who has lost count of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, it was the icing on the cake of what she described as a rewarding life.
Jensen was born Jan. 26, 1910, weighing only three pounds, during a North Dakota winter that she recalls her mother describing as one of the worst she'd ever witnessed.
"I was so small," she said. "But my mom was a good mamma and she knew exactly what to do." Jensen said that her mother placed her in a shoebox that was then placed on an open oven door in an effort to keep her warm.
"It was ingenious," she said.
Jensen was the middle child with three sisters and four brothers. The family lived on a farm where Jensen's job was to pick potato bugs off of growing crops, a favorite memory, she said.
"All the other kids had their chores. We were all out there helping. I loved doing it," she said.
When Jensen was about 12, her father, whom she said was a jack-of-all-trades, moved the family to the Las Vegas area in search of work.
"He wanted to come work for the railroad," she said. "That was in 1924. We came to North Las Vegas before it was (incorporated as) North Las Vegas. And I've been here ever since."
Jensen married young, wedding her first husband, Joe, at the age of 16. Her first daughter, Joy, was born just a few years later.
"I loved being a mom. I felt like it was one of those things I was meant to do," Jensen said.
Two more girls, Rita and Esther, were born within a four-year span, just in time for Jensen to grapple with the responsibilities of motherhood in the crippling Depression.
"But we had some good neighbors and although my husband had trouble finding work, we made it. My girls never went hungry," she said.
Esther Faircloth, now 75, said she remembers those days when her parents owned two homes in North Las Vegas but were forced to move into an old, abandoned gas station at the edge of town and rent the other two properties to make ends meet.
"But those were also good times. For example, I can remember swimming in the Colorado River out at the Hoover Dam while it was being built," she said. "Mamma has pictures."
Jensen and her husband worked and raised their children through the years. During World War II, Jensen became a nurse after fulfilling the only requirement of the time, which was to read the "Handbook of Women's Ambulance and Defense Corps of America," and pass an exam. She worked as a nurse at the county hospital for more than 20 years.
"I started during a war when everyone was encouraged to go out and do their part, so that's what I did," she said.
Jensen and Joe eventually moved to a ranch in Utah where they lived for six years, but the couple returned to Nevada after an accident left Joe in bad shape.
"He had some bruises and broken bones. And we decided to come home to be with our girls," she said.
After 54 years of marriage, Joe passed away, in what Jensen described as one of the most devastating days of her life.
"But you move on and live life because that's all you can do," Jensen said.
In 1981, Jensen married second husband Lee, with whom she shared a quarter century until his death four years ago.
Jensen celebrated her 100th birthday with a party on Jan. 23 (three days in advance of the actual birthday) at Aliante Station, surrounded by three generations of descendants and hundreds of relatives.
"I've lived a good life," she said. "North Las Vegas has always been my home, and I've seen a lot of change through the years. I have no regrets. I only feel blessed."

My Great-Grandma with her daughter (my grandma,), son-in-law and 7 grandchildren (my dad and his siblings).

My Great-Grandma with most of her great and great-great grandchildren from my dad's side of the family.

1 comment:

Jess said...

Wow, that is so cool! She sounds like an amazing woman.