UNION CITY, Ind. — Inez Clevenger has always kept busy and attributes that to her longevity.
Clevenger will soon be marking her 100th birthday, and, even though she gets around on a walker because of some hip issues, she keeps as active as she can.
She walks every day and does some of her favorite things at her home of 15 years, American Heritage Assisted Living in Union City.
Born Oct. 28, 1915, she was the second oldest of seven children born to John and Bessie (Arnett) Lindemuth. Her birth took place at the family home east of Greenville.
“Back then, you did everything at home,” she said.
She attended two one-room schools through eighth grade; one was the Midnight School and the other the Concorde School. And, then she went on to graduate from Greenville High School in 1935 [80 years ago].
After high school, she started working for Schmermund’s in Greenville as a housekeeper for $3 a week. Her next job was in a coat factory.
Subsequently, Clevenger went to work for Brateman’s Ready-To-Wear in downtown Greenville and even managed it for a while, before retiring in 1942, when she gave birth to her only child, son Eugene, who died in 2000 at the age of 55.
At one time, she was a caretaker for Haleloka of Union City, who was a featured entertainer often seen on the old Arthur Godfrey show on television.
She was widowed upon the death of husband Ralph of Union City, Indiana.
“Two of my friends worked with him at the Union City Body Co. and I went on a blind date with him to the Pumpkin Show,” Clevenger said. “They put us on the Ferris Wheel for fun. I thought we’d get right off but it kept on running. But, after it stopped, I knew right then that’s who I wanted to live with.”
Her husband, she said, quit working at the Body Co. to start his own fence business.
“His health failed, then he became a bus driver for Jackson Township, Indiana, School and bought another farm four miles out of town,” she recalled.
Clevenger said she still has two siblings, Marvin, who lives in Florida, and Myrtle McKnight of Greenville. Deceased are their sister, Mary Belle, and brothers, Luther, Edgar and Harold.
She also has two grandsons, Troy of Michigan, who has three children, and Blake, who is married and living on the farm four miles out of town.
“Blake is a computer tech for Randolph Eastern Schools, and his wife is a teacher,” Clevenger said.
Son Eugene’s wife has remarried and now living in Muncie, working in X-rays at Ball Hospital.
Clevenger used to be active in Jackson, Indiana, Home Extension Club, and has always been active in the Lutheran Church; in Greenville and now at Trinity in Union City.
She managed the Community Help Center in town, which she helped start, for 13 years with a friend, Doris Fields of near Winchester. Then, she retired. It was founded in 1985 by the Rev. Roberta Hart and is designed for helping those in time of need with clothing and food items.
“We done so much good for families who didn’t have anything,” said Clevenger, who has broken both hips and will always be on a walker. “I enjoy helping people. I can’t volunteer anymore for fear of falling,”
She did quit driving when she was 95, and she still likes to cook and bake.
“I make noodles and banana bread,” she said. “I use the kitchen here and try to share.”
She came to the assisted living facility, formerly a part of the old Union City Memorial Hospital, 15 years ago.
“There is no place like home, but I have the privileges of cooking and working on crafts which I love,” she said. “I also like to color with pencils. Coloring is good for you. It makes you think.”
She will be the guest of honor at three parties before her actual birthday takes place. The facility where she is residing is planning a party; the Community Help Center is going to honor her; and an open house/reception is set for Trinity Lutheran Church from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 25.
In the meantime, she has been busy making homemade favors for the church event.
“I write poetry, but not all of the time,” she said. “It comes and goes.”
There have been a lot of changes in the past century, and she will attest to that.
“I think technology has gone too far,” she said.
When asked what she meant by that, she added, “That I don’t know. It’s beyond me.”
She has penned some of her biography, which indicate that her first memories came at the age of 5, and will probably mention that when she presents a program at the Union City Rotary Club later this month.
Transportation, she said, is probably “the greatest invention over the years.”
‘We had a threshing machine, a steam engine that worked to plant tobacco and daddy had to hitch up the horse until we got an old Ford,” she said. “We always raised a truck patch and raised our own food. We had three hogs and canned them and there was a huckster wagon who stopped by with food to sell.”
Clevenger, who remembers when post cards were 1 cent, has been to Germany and Alaska with a group in her golden years. She was unable to go to the Darke County Fair this year, but has been to most of them.
“I never thought I’d live this long and do all this stuff,” she said.
When asked if she had anything on her bucket list that she would like to do while she can, she couldn’t think of anything.
“I’ve lived a hard life but my neighbors did too, so I didn’t know it was hard,” Clevenger said. “But, now it’s easy…all you have to do is press a button.”
“I’m thankful it was a good life,” she went on. ” My motto is I’ve had a good life….take one day at a time. A good many people have humps and bumps. I lost my husband and son; you gotta go on.”
Yes, she has her memories for which to cling.
“We couldn’t go bare-footed until Decoration Day,” she said. “We only had one pair of shoes. We walked to school, but we wore overshoes whenever the weather was bad to protect our good shoes. But, I’m not complaining. The younger generation has no idea how we had to live.”
Clevenger has talked about the past to students in classes where she was asked to speak.
“I told them about the times our family would sit around the stove and eat popcorn and maybe apples when we didn’t have television or a radio,” she said. “One little girl couldn’t believe that we washed up behind the stove with a little container of water.”
Clevenger is happy with her life right now.
“I like my flowers and feel very safe here,” she said. “I get three meals a day and a snack at night if I want. Life is good. You can make it good or you can make it bad. Make it what you want it to be.”
Those wishing to send Clevenger a birthday card can do so by sending it in care of her to American Heritage Assisted Living, North Columbia Street, Union City, IN 47390.