National Centenarian’s Day was recently celebrated at Westview Care Center, in Britt, with cake, ice cream, in honor of their two centenarians, Helen Reardon, 101, and Hannah Mae “Mayme” Meyer, 100.
“[National Centenarian’s Day] was originally proclaimed as a time to listen to centenarians as they have so much rich history during their lives and they can share so much wisdom with others as they’ve had many more experiences in their life,” Sandy Boekelman, Westview’s admissions coordinator, said.
Reardon was born as Helen Decker on May 1, 1918 on a farm north of Mason City, where the Lime Creek Nature Center is currently.
Reardon said as she was growing up, she attended a country school that had only two rooms in the building, with five kids in her class.
During prohibition, some bootleggers brewed beer in some caves in the woods near her parents’ house, and that’s how they made their living, Reardon said.
When the Depression hit, Reardon said her family grew their own produce and raised chickens on their farm, so they didn’t suffer as much as others did.
When she was in eighth grade, Reardon’s family moved into the city, where her father, sitting near City Park and talking with his friends, witnessed John Dillinger and his gang rob the First National Bank, which was across the street from the park.
“Her father initially thought the men going into the building were just there to take pictures because their machine guns were covered with cloth, just like photography equipment back in those days,” Boekelman said.
Reardon graduated from Mason City High School and was working as a waitress when she met her future husband, Richard Reardon.
Together, they had five children, and though raising the children kept her busy, Reardon started cleaning houses for some extra money, enjoying cleaning certain people’s houses until she was 70 years old.
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Reardon said she also enjoyed sewing dresses, clothes, quilts and especially Santa Claus dolls.
“I’m crazy for Santa Claus,” she said.
Boekelman said Reardon has shared so many stories with the staff at Westview learning so much from her “and we are the better because of it.”
“[Reardon] is a joy to be around with her sense of witty humor and a laugh that is so contagious,” she said. “…She is part of our family here and we enjoy every minute with her.”
Meyer was born Feb. 15, 1919 in Wesley and grew up one of four children, just north of town. After graduating high school in 1936, Meyer stayed home to help her father and brother on the farm, as her mother had passed away.
“I was a farmer’s daughter,” she said. “I milked cows and fed chickens.”
In 1942, she married Elmer Meyer and together they lived southwest of Woden. They had five children together. Elmer was a painter and farmer, and Meyer was a homemaker, who was active in her church groups at the Woden Christian Reformed Church, where she played the piano for many events.
“My brother [Harold] and I sang and played for a lot of weddings and special occasions at the church,” she said.
Meyer still plays the piano at Westview for some activities and parties or “sometimes just because she enjoys playing and likes to entertain people,” Boekelman said.