Celebrating 100 years of living

“It was a nice surprise to get a letter from the President,” said Viola (Vi) Bumgarner of Deer River. “I’ve never gotten one before, but then I guess I’ve never reached 100 before!” Photo by Louise H. McGregor
“It was a nice surprise to get a letter from the President,” said Viola (Vi) Bumgarner of Deer River. “I’ve never gotten one before, but then I guess I’ve never reached 100 before!” Photo by Louise H. McGregor

by Louise H. McGregor, staff writer

She loves to dance and play cards. Yes, that is Viola (Vi) Bumgarner, who will be celebrating her 100th birthday on July 31.

“I don’t feel that old,” said Vi on July 22. “I think of older people as being doubled over, unable to dress themselves and having trouble getting around.”

“She doesn’t have any problem with that,” said Marilyn Lundeen. “Vi always picks out what she wants to wear and dresses herself.”

“I’m very capable of taking care of myself,” said Vi. “I guess I learned that long ago when I was growing up. Mom was too busy with the other kids. There were four of us and I was the oldest.”

Larry Walsh, who is 80 now, was the youngest member of the family born to Harry and Gertrude Viola Walsh. “He comes down and has dinner with us now and then,” said Vi.

“Yes,” continued Vi, who also loves to talk to people, “and I still can walk on both feet. I bet I could do a polka, if I had a good dance partner. I just might see if I can’t do a polka at my party.”

She was referring to the birthday party that was scheduled to be held to celebrate this occasion on July 28 at the Deer River Township Community Center.

Vi contributes her longevity to good living. “I had a good home,” she said, “and I never drank or smoked. I just couldn’t see doing that. Of course, my mom was very much against that. And, after you see a woman or two make a fool of themselves when they are drinking, you know darn well that you don’t want that to be you! I used to see a lot of that as I used to go to dances every week. The women were such ladies before they started drinking, but then they would make horse’s butts out of themselves. That was terrible. Seeing that was enough to keep me from ever drinking!”

Vi did love to dance. She said, “When I didn’t have a date my brother Lyle would go with me. I used to go dancing every Saturday night. Almost everyone in the Deer River community would be at those dances. It was always a good time. There was a couple, she played the piano and he played the violin and they would play just so people in the neighborhood could get together and have fun dancing up at Deer Lake. ”

When asked what her favorite foods were, Lundeen said, “It is definitely not potatoes. She said that she had too much potatoes when she was growing up.”

“And,” said Vi, “I never liked them then!”

Potatoes were a staple of meals, especially during the Depression years. “That was a tough time for everyone,” said Vi. “There wasn’t any work for anyone and if there was any available jobs the workers only got about $3 or $3.50 a day.”

Breakfast is Vi’s favorite meal. She likes her cereal, and she does like vegetables and fruits. “Good healthy food,” said Vi.

Vi has been a member of the Deer River community for many years. She graduated from Deer River High School in 1932 then went to Drew Business College in St. Cloud. “I just went there for a year and took stenographic courses. Most of what I took there were repeats of what I had done in high school.”

The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

Subscribe Now or Login