UNION CITY, Ind. — Inez Clevenger is looking forward to her 104th birthday on Monday.
On the morning of her birthday, Oct. 28, she will be featured on WTHR on Channel 13, in observance of her milestone It will air between 6 and 7 a.m.
It’s not the first time she has been featured before an audience. She also spoke to the Union City Rotary Club on her 100th and 103rd birthdays.
Clevenger doesn’t let her age keep her from doing what she wants to do. On the morning of this interview, she was in the kitchen helping make caramel corn for a Halloween party to be held the next day in the assisted living facility where she resides in Union City.
She loves her home and enjoys fraternizing with other residents and staff and still be able to live alone.
“I don’t get out often,” Clevenger said. “My family don’t want me to drive.”
She never thought she’d live this long, and noted said she has lived longer than anyone else in her family.
A widow, she outlived her husband, Ralph, who died at the age of 51, and her only son, Eugene, who died at 55. She also has two grandsons, Blake and Troy and three great-grandchildren.
“I lost my son and husband, but you just go on and don’t stop,” said Clevenger, who met her husband on a blind date with friends at the Bradford Pumpkin Show
“After the third time dating him, I knew I liked him,” she said.
Clevenger enjoys helping out at her assisted living facility and coloring and writing poetry in her spare time.
She said she went to a one-room school at Concord in Greenville on State Route 571-East.
“One teacher taught us all,” Clevenger reminisced. “She put our lessons on the blackboard. We were taught arithmetic and she taught us how to write. She played a Victrola and we had to write according to the rhythm.”
She said each student would get one brown, wooden pencil, and they would exchange the schoolbooks back and forth.
“Tablets cost 5 cents each,” she said.
Concord and another local school, Midnight, got together and participated in activities as spelling bees and ciphering matches.
When she graduated from Greenville High School, the family lived on a farm and her father, John Lindemuth, died very young, leaving their mother to raise the seven children.
“We were farmers,” Clevenger said. “We had no electricity and just one car. We were taught our lessons by a coal oil lamp on the table.
She said her mother pulled it off, even though there were trying times, especially when all four of her sons eventually had to serve their country. “That’s when she decided to sell the farm, Clevenger recalled. “We had no modern conveniences. We had one black horse, named Dick, for our transport. We raised our own meat and butchered three hogs at a time with the help of neighbors. In those days, everyone had to work because we had no money. Mom worked in the fields and shucked corn to keep food on the table. We never went hungry. It wasn’t a lot of fancy foods but we had food. We always had a big garden and a truck patch on a 60-acre farm, raising wheat, corn and tobacco.”
Clevenger, who has one living sibling, Myrtle McKnight of Greenville, said she only had one pair of shoes and three outfits of clothes.
“We had everyday clothes, church clothes and play clothes,” she said. “We were a Christian family and went to church every Sunday.”
She said one thing she can’t understand is technology, but is glad her grandsons are both making a living from it.
Clevenger herself had a variety of jobs over the years, subsequently retiring from the Boston Store in Union City.
She volunteered her time with the Lutheran Church, which had a clothes closet, and the Christian Church, which had food pantry, merged to form a Community Help Center. She retired from there at age 90.
Clevenger, who has suffered two broken hips after falls, said her health is fine. However, she is waiting to get dental work on one of her teeth, which was chipped.
She has lived in assisted living for the past 16 years, and she loves it there.
“It’s a good place to be. Good food, A buzzer. Security,” she said.
Her whole family is good to her, she said. “I’ve had a good life. I can’t complain.”
“We are close-knit. We came up the hard way,” she said. They are planning a family get-together at the facility the first Saturday in November.
She said there will probably be a party for her Monday with cake and ice cream. And, being a birthday celebrant, she gets to choose her own meal that day. What’s she having? “Roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy and a green bean casserole.”
Contact Darke County Media Staff Writer Linda Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-569-4315, ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.