Centenarian enjoys life

Family Living Editor

Register/Jenelle Johnson
Mildred “Midge” Chambers celebrated her 100th birthday Friday. She continues to live alone and is fortunate to be in relatively good health.

CARLYLE — On Saturday Mildred “Midge” Chambers said she was “Queen for the Day” complete with bejeweled tiara.
“I think I earned a day when I could be the center of attention. After all, a person only turns 100 once,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. She was born Jan. 15, 1910, in Bolivar, Mo.
Nearly 90 people attended her birthday party at Iola’s senior citizens center. The Southeast Kansas Area Agency on Aging honored her with a certificate inducting her into its Century Club.
Of the many cards she received her favorite came from family members.
“I have to show you my musical card,” she said.
Chambers held up the card that she keeps close to her chair. On the front of the card is “You’re not old until the fat lady sings.” With a big smile on her face she opened the card which pictures a fat lady singing.
“I had such a wonderful day, and you know, it was 10 p.m. before I got home,” she said. “I can honestly say I didn’t have any aches or pains on Saturday and I didn’t even get tired, because I was having such a wonderful time.”
Following the party family members met at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Gene and Naomi Chambers, where her great-grandsons had prepared supper.

CHAMBERS MOVED to Kansas as a small child with her parents, William and Nola Higginbotham, and her three brothers.
The family settled on a farm near Rock Creek northeast of Iola.
The youngest of four children, she was eager to attend school with her brothers. Her mother approached the teacher who consented to let Chambers attend Rock Creek’s one-room school when she was 4. She also attended Deer Creek’s one-room school before the family moved to Carlyle when she was about 10.
Chambers recalled while in junior high she once memorized a seven-page story she recited for the other students.
“We were always putting on plays for each other,” she said.
Carlyle’s school only went through seventh grade, requiring she be bused to Iola High School where she completed her education.

SHE MET and married Frank Chambers in 1928. The couple lived in several homes in Carlyle before settling in her present home on Adams Street, in February of 1930.
“We paid $3 a month for rent and one day Frank said, ‘We should buy this house. We’ve already paid more in rent than the asking price for the house,’” she said.
The couple eventually paid $300 for the home.
“We did all the remodeling ourselves. I became quite good at scraping paint and staining woodwork,” she said.
Her husband worked on road construction throughout the state and during the summer the family would travel with him.
Chambers said she was content being a homemaker and mother, but one summer took a job as a cook in a large recreation hall near Atchison while her husband was working in the area.
“I got to be a fairly good hamburger cook,” she said.
Frank died in 1973.

AS A YOUNG wife and mother, Chambers joined a Homemakers Club, but broke away 70 years ago to help begin the So and Sew Club in Carlyle. The club was more of a social club than the Homemakers Club, she said.
“I remember mom taking me with her to the club when I was a young boy and I would find a quiet place to take a nap,” said Gene Chambers.
Throughout the years Chambers delighted her friends and family with many crocheted afghans. She also enjoyed sewing, reading and crossword puzzles until arthritis limited her dexterity.
As a centenarian, the only medication she takes are vitamins and a water pill, although she has been slowed by cataracts and knee replacements.
“I’ve had hard times, sad times and good times, but I’ve also had a lot of fun throughout my life,” Chambers said.