In 101 years, Miriam Schodde has witnessed 18 American presidents, two world wars, the advent of the television, the computer and microwavable food.
What’s the best new thing since she was born on July 23, 1907?
Improvements in transportation, the Snoqualmie woman said.
“The automobile is remarkable. Back then, nobody had a car. We’d hear people talking about airplanes, and thought they were crazy.”
A wonderful tradition missing from society, though, is the big public dance that towns used to hold regularly. Schodde loved to attend them growing up around Enumclaw, then in the Snoqualmie Valley after she moved to the area in 1942.
“We went to all the public dances, and you could go and dance with whoever you wished to. That was always lots of fun,” she said, adding that she always saved the first and last dances for her husband, Herman.
“I always told my daughters that they didn’t know how to have a good time, because they’d go to a dance with one man, and dance all night with him. But I wouldn’t want to dance with the same guy,” she said.
Schodde was all smiles as loved ones gathered to celebrate her 101st birthday at the Mount Si Senior Center with lunch and cake. Harley Brumbaugh, who described himself as “the son Miriam never had, then wished she’d never had,” played a trumpet rendition of “Stardust,” one of Schodde’s favorite songs.
“I have friends here that I haven’t seen in so long. This is about the most happiness I’ve had for a long time,” Schodde said.
The party provided a perfect opportunity for loved ones to reminisce.
Brumbaugh recalled the Schoddes gathering up carloads of “cheerleaders” to support local sports teams.
“Their home was always a gathering place for all of our friends,” he said.
Working at the front desk of the Snoqualmie office of Puget Sound Power & Light Co. in the days when people used to pay their utility bills in person, Schodde knew almost everyone in town, Brumbaugh said.
These days, Schodde enjoys her garden, the two cats and two poodles that share her home, and frequent visits from her two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“The house is always full with children, family. She just adores them. She loves people — the more, the better,” said Villa Lenz, Schodde’s live-in caretaker.
Schodde attributes her longevity to her daily multivitamin, walks, gardening and housework.
Lenz has another idea: “She doesn’t consider herself an old lady, and that’s what keeps her going. She’s young at heart.”