Mrs. Louise "Lou" Miller turned 101 Jan. 6, 2011, but you wouldn't know it. The day before her birthday, she was at her regular Wednesday afternoon post as volunteer greeter at the front reception desk of The Terraces at MapleCreek in Grand Rapids.
"I never would have guessed I would live so long," Lou said. "People ask me how I did it. I just take one day at a time, and I try to keep a positive outlook on life. I guess the Lord has just blessed me."
Lou is not the only 101-year-old at The Terraces. Ed Kelling turned 101 a month and a half earlier on Nov. 20, 2010. He and his wife Dottie also live in the catered independent living apartments. At last year's Valentine's Party for the residents, Ed posed with Lou, who was wearing her festive red boa just for fun. Standing there, they represented 200 combined years of living. Now both are a year older and still going strong.
So what was happening way back then? Well, on Oct. 1, 1908, a little over a year before Ed was born, Henry Ford publicly introduced the Model T automobile and offered it for sale at an affordable $850. In 1909, Ernest Shackleton's expedition found the magnetic South Pole, the first ham operator broadcast a message on a short-wave radio, the first heavier than air machine flight across the English Channel was made, and a 22-year-old housewife (with three non-driving female companions) became the first woman to drive across the country from Manhattan, New York to San Francisco, California, some 3,800 miles in 59 days. In 1910, the year Lou was born, the Boy Scouts of America was formed, Yellow Cab was founded, Hallmark Cards was started by an 18-year-old and his brother, and working men earned an average of $15 per week for 54 to 60 hours of labor.
There would be no commercial radio until more than a decade later, when KDKA in Pittsburgh read the Presidential election results in November 1920. That means all news came in person, by mail, on the telephone or in the local newspaper. There were nickelodeons offering 10-minute shows but no American feature films (40-min. or longer) until 1912, and airplanes were still considered a novelty back then -- although one hit song of 1910 was "Come, Josephine, In My Flying Machine." Other popular tunes written that year were "Down By the Old Mill Stream" and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Imagine all of the amazing things these two special people have seen in their lifetimes!