BOTKINS — It’s taken Lucille Meyer of rural Botkins almost 100 years to write her life’s story. And she’s not done with her story yet.
Meyer will turn 100 years young on Oct. 16. An open house will be held Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Immanuel Church in Kettlersville from 2 to 4 p.m. to celebrate her birthday. The event is open to the public and the family requests no gifts be given to the birthday girl.
Meyer was born Oct. 16, 1916, to Henry and Alice Catherine (Sollman) Hirschfeld.
“I was born on my dad’s birthday,” said Meyer. “He was 85 when he died in 1974.”
Meyer said her mother passed away on Dec. 16, 1929, when she was only 39 years old.
“I was 10 years old when she died,” recalled Meyer. “I don’t remember too much about mom. But she taught me how to sew. She was a good sewer.
“When my youngest brother was born, I had acute appendicitis and it burst,” she said. “I was a pretty sick girl.”
Meyer said she was a “tomboy” growing up.
“I had to be to keep up with my big brother. I had to be where he was,” she said.
Meyer has three siblings, Wilson, Louis and Merlin.
After her mom died, her dad married Martha Tangman. She has a half sister, Martha Ann Thomas, and two stepsiblings, Marie Elsass and LeRoy Tangman.
“We were all one family,” said Meyer.
She married Harold A. Meyer, and they had four children, Nancy Palser, of Covington, Don Meyer, who passed away from a wasp sting in 1987, Patricia Platfoot, of Minster, and Ned Meyer, of Botkins. She has 17 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Her earliest memories are “running around the windmill that pumped the water,” she said. “I’d climb up the windmill/derrick and then slide down it. I made a lot of gray hair for my mom.”
Her tomboy lifestyle also led her to jumping out of the haymow onto bales of hay.
“I broke both the arches of my feet,” she said. “My dad had to carry me around everywhere. That was before my mom died.”
Another time she was adventurous was when the family was building a new chicken house.
“It was raining that day and we had left the tools on top of the roof of the chicken house. At the dinner table, my dad said,’Wilson, go get the tools.’ And little Lucille trotted back out there.
“Wilson started to toss the tools and I was under a hatchet when he threw it down,” she said. “I still have a scar onto of my head. Wilson ran back into the house and said ‘something happened to Lucille.’
“They took me to the doctor and he could see the brains,” she said. “I was close to saying ‘Amen.’”
The family lived on a farm a half mile north of Kettlersville. She started school after going through all her adventures.
When she started school, her uncle who was the teacher, would come to her house and take her to school everyday because that’s after she had her appendix taken out.
The school was west of Kettlersville and was located on state Route 274. She attended school for three years at the Van Buren Township District 5 School. After moving to Kettlersville, she attended Kettlersville School after it was built.
“All my kids went to Kettlersville School when they were growing up,” she said.
After completing the eighth-grade, the county school board decided students would either attend New Bremen Schools or Anna Schools.
“If you lived west of Poppe’s store, you went to New Bremen. If you lived east of Poppe’s store, you went to Anna,” she said. “I went to New Bremen.
“Our bus driver was Eddie Maurer, who milked a lot of cows. So he had a lot of cream. He’d drive the bus to New Bremen and he had the cream on the bus.”
After dropping the students off at school, he would deliver his cream to White Mountain. At the end of the school day, he’d pick the students up and take them home.
Meyer attended New Bremen for three years when the board of education decided all students living in Kettlersville should attend Anna Schools.
“Myself and five others were seniors at New Bremen,” she said. “So they let us finish our fourth year over there. Student Howard Schulze drove all six of us kids to New Bremen every day. “
Meyer said she was a member of the high school choir and Glee Club.
“I wasn’t into many clubs,” said Meyer. “I did play basketball at Kettlersville.”
The Great Depression hit after she graduated from high school.
“I had to keep busy,” she said. “I had the best stepmother I could every gotten. She treated me just like I was one of her own kids.”
Meyer worked for a family who had just had a baby.
“I lived with the family and had to do the baking, ironing, washing and cleaning house.:
And then the love bug hit Meyer.
“The first time I met him, I was entertaining the little girl at our house,” said Meyer. “I carried her around. Harold was visiting in Kettlersville and he was sitting with a bunch of boys in the lawn. He told the boys ‘Someday I’m going to marry that girl.’”
And marry they did. The couple exchanged vows on Feb. 6, 1940.
Their first date was a blind date, she said.
“The next morning him and a friend wrote their bicycles from New Knoxville to a grandma’s house in Kettlersville. He asked my for a date. I wasn’t as much of a tomboy then.”
Meyer said she was 18 when they met and they got engaged in the winter.
“W set a date for February and he talked to my dad. My dad says, ‘What do you intend to do to support your wife? Do you still want to be a farmer or go to town?’ Harold said he’d like to be a farmer.”
With land from Meyer’s dad, the couple became farmers.
“We got married before Easter and we moved right onto the farm,” she said. “We didn’t have any furniture and he was making $10 a week. We couldn’t eat chicken our or go to the movies. We made the best of it.
“We had our wedding date set and my grandma, who lived with us, fell and broker her leg. So we went to the parsonage in New Knoxville and got married there.”
Their marriage license cost $1.
Their first child, Nancy, was born at home.
“The doctor didn’t want us to pay for the birth,” she said. “We had a can that used to have loose tobacco in it and we filled it with dimes. That was full and that’s what the doctor charged us to deliver Nancy.”
Because of some complications, that 3s the last home delivery that the doctor did.
“In 1950, Pat was born at Wilson Hospital. I have a bill for $38.13 for the delivery costs.”
The marriage was a true partnership. They worked together every day on the farm. They started with five dairy cows and increased their herd to 70 cows.
“I was in the barn all the time with him except the time out of the day that I spent with the kids,” she said. “I was in the barn, pregnant with my last child, when we had to run to the hospital..
When they first started farming, they used horses to low the fields. They started with a 90 acre farm and gradually increased the size with additional land purchases.
After they purchased a tractor, Meyer became proficient at driving it.
“When he’d go out to plow, I’d go out and jump on the tractor too,” she said. “I could plow a field just as well as him. I’d help bale hay. I went back to my tomboy days.”
Meyer learned German from her grandma who lived with them and from her husband’s mother.
“Grandma talked to us in German,” she said. “Harold’s mother talked to us in German. When she would talk to me, I’d answer her in English.
“Grandma Meyer talked in New Knoxville German. Minster had a different dialect than New Knoxville German did. She was a good mother-in-law to me. We got along real good.”
Meyer is active in her church and was a 4-H leader when her girls were growing up.
“We had no hired hands on the farm,” she said. “I was out there all the time.”
But she still found time to make her daughters’ clothes.
“Their dresses didn’t look handmade but they were,” she said. “I’m also a quilter.Each girl has gotten a couple of my quilts and I still have a few left. I’d put the quilts in shows at the fair and I’d win the contests.”
Meyer said she’s seen many changes through her 100 years. There have been 18 different presidents in the White House since she was born.
“We started farming with a team of horses now there’s mammoth tractors that can plow 16 rows that come by here,” she said. “
She said the biggest change happened in 1999-2000 when the prices for everything kept going up and up.
“A babysitter would get paid more in an hour than I would get paid in a week,” she said.
their first television as a “little square box” that they purchased when daughter Patty was little.
Meyer said they family didn’t go many places when their children were growing up.
“I remember Interstate 75 being built,” she said. “We
d go on County Road 25 from Sidney to Botkins and we’dsee them put the gravel down.”
She has also seen great changes in technology and wonders it it’s gone too far.
“I think computers and technology are going to far,” she said. “There’s no basic reading, writing and arithmetic anymore.”
Cursive handwriting is needed as some people can’t write their name, she said.
Meyer said here goal is to live to be 110 years young. And how has she accomplished the healthy life she is living right now?
“I eat three meals a day,” she said. “I have a big breakfast to start the day. Dinner is at noon and supper was always after the kids got home from school.
“I eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit. We didn’t cut all the fat off the hogs and beef like they do now. The doctor has told me ‘Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.’”
Myer said growing up she was never bored. She would find something to do such as sewing, quilting and crocheting. Even when she’s watching television, her hands are busy crocheting or sewing.
“Today, everyone’s hands are typing on their phones,” she said. “You need to make something and stay active.”
The couple was married for 69 before Harold passed away.. And what advice does she give married couples?
“Never go to bed mad,” she said. “Always give your hubby a hug or a kiss.”
Her husband went blind toward the end of his life.
“He’d go to the workshop and continued to saw with the wood. If he wanted something, he’d walk to the house and tell me how many inches something needed to be. We were always together.”
A celebration was held on their 69th anniversary and Meyer said she regrets smearing the cake into her husband’s face at the party.
“I wish we had traveled more,” she said.
The first time she flew was on a trip to Hawaii.
“It was a good trip but there wasn’t happiness when we got home,” she said. “Our son Don got stung by a wasp and died. He was close to 42 at the time. He was have been 74 years old on Sept. 21. This was before there were epi pens. Everyone watches out for wasps now.”
Before her husband died, they both planted a walnut tree. Her’s grew and they cut it down and built a table and hutch out of the wood.
“I never could sit still,” she said. “I always had to be doing something.”
Meyer still cooks for herself, does baking and is still driving. She will take the golf cart for a ride around the farm.
“I’m still doing all the things I did when I was 60,” she said. “My grandchildren are close by the paths I drive the golf cart.”
And she has her companion, Tiny the dog, with her all the time.
“I wouldn’t take a million dollars for her,” said Meyer.
As she begins to receive birthday cards in the mail, the very first birthday wish she received was from Cincinnati Reds player Jesse Winker.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.