The joy and adventure of life sparkles in Alice Baldowsky’s deep blue Norwegian eyes, igniting energy and celebration all around.
With a wink and a smile, Alice regales a visitor with stories of a hard-working farm life, of working downtown, of dancing, going to dinner, going to lunch, going to ball games – going, going, going all the time.
“I was a downtown lady. My happiest memories were going out with all the friends of mine – there’s no place I didn’t go,” Alice said, eyes sparkling.
Alice, who was born and raised on a farm in Elk River and now lives at Select Senior Living in Coon Rapids, recently celebrated another adventure. Oct. 25, Alice celebrated her 103rd birthday.
Her secret to long life?
“Hard work and eating oatmeal every day,” Alice said.
On the farm in Elk River, Alice and her sisters spent long days stacking hay, digging potatoes, shucking grain.
“We did everything,” Alice said.
After working the family farm, Alice worked at Kramer’s restaurant in Elk River, baking pies and donuts every day for several years.
Ready to leave farming life behind and eager to find more adventure, Alice moved to Minneapolis where she worked at Harold’s on Nicollet Avenue.
“Harold’s had the most exclusive, most beautiful ready-to-wear ladies clothing there is,” Alice said.
“Imagine walking through those doors, a (young) girl from the farm and they hired me right then.”
“It was a wonderful place to work. I had to wear a $200 dress, $200 shoes – everything. And I loved it.”
Alice worked as a cashier at Harold’s for 30 years and then retired when she turned 65.
“I went sliding out the door with a friendly ‘So long’,” she said.
When she wasn’t working, she was playing – going out to lunch, going out to dinner, going dancing, going to Orchestra Hall, going to the ball games.
“I never missed a (Twins baseball) game and when they won the (1987) World Series, I was at the parade downtown,” Alice said.
Kirby Puckett was her favorite player, she said.
Alice attended football games, too. But not because she wanted to.
“I didn’t like football, but I went,” Alice said. “We’d sit on a long bench. No back rest. Blanket wrapped around. Mittens. Sitting there freezing.
“I didn’t like it, but he took me so I went,” Alice said, a rare scowl on her face as she recalled how she went along to football games with her beau.
When she wasn’t going, going, going, she was sleeping, but that was just a brief intermission to her active social life.
“I stayed up all night most nights,” Alice said, winking. “I didn’t have time to go to bed.”
Perhaps there’s more to long life than just oatmeal and hard work.
It seems adventure and a sense of fun has fueled Alice’s life from the day she was born – and the celebration continues.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org