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Nadine Neely, a lifelong resident of Tilden, celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday.
Being 100 years old is not without its hardships, as the driver for Prairie View Assisted Living explains. He said when he took Neely to her last doctor’s appointment, she had to fill out paperwork.
He explained that the receptionist kept giving her back her form, telling her she needed to put in her date of birth, not the date. Neely kept telling her, “That is my birthday!”
Neely was born east of Tilden on a farm that homesteaded by her grandfather, P.V. Lewis, Sr. She went to country school through eighth grade and then graduated from Tilden High School in the class of ‘35.
Once she married her husband Dave in 1941, the couple moved in to town and never left.
Throughout her 100 years, Neely has seen many changes in the town of Tilden.
“A lot of businesses have closed,” she said. “Bigger ones have taken over.”
“We must’ve had a half dozen filling stations. We had dentists and three doctors, and we had a hospital, clothing store,” Neely remembered.
Along with the changes she has witnessed in Tilden, Neely says the biggest change to her was the telephone.
“It used to be the box on the wall, and there’d be about 10 people on the line. You had to take your turn, or if it was an emergency, you could ask for the line,” she said.
She even remembers her parents’ number. “2712, and the one was a long ring, and the two was short ones,” she said.
Some things Neely said she could adjust to, but not the new phones. “They got the cell phone, all the buttons to punch, and it brings up pictures and everything. It’s really different,” Neely said.
In her 100 years, Neely said she never once worked away from home. “I was just a homemaker so I cooked and canned and cleaned.”
Her and her husband, Dave, had three children who all graduated from Tilden.
Neely’s favorite memories growing up are of her dad taking her and her sister to the local fairs and Fourth of July celebrations.
“He’d ride on everything with us,” she reminisced.
Neely also loved to sing and dance. “I’ve always enjoyed music. I used to sing quite a bit. I sang in the church choir, and I sang for funerals and weddings,” she said.
Neely remembers years ago when people didn’t need a driver’s license to drive.
“My sister and I both learned how to drive on a Model T,” she said.
Neely fondly remembered a time she was picking up her mother to run errands in town.
“I had to swing around (the driveway). There was just a lean-to for the garage. I was going too fast and couldn’t get stopped, and I hit the front end of the garage and knocked it out,” she said. “I looked out and dad was coming with an axe, and I thought, ‘Oh boy, I’m going to really get it!’ But he just went around and pounded the garage back in and went back to the barn.”
When asked what the secret to living such a long life is, Neely said to “just try to lead a healthy life.” Neely’s mom lived to 93, and Neely’s sister was 99.
“My sister wanted to be 100, but she was within six months, and she was asthmatic and passed away,” Neely said.
Neely’s best piece of advice is to just “never give up, I guess.”