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Local woman celebrates 103rd birthday, looks back on life

September 30, 2011

Myrtle Delong displays her birthday cake at her home. She turned 103 on Friday.

A recent local centenarian has a unique way of looking at many things that most of us learned in history class during high school.
Myrtle Delong, who lives on Hengstler Road, celebrated her 103rd birthday on Friday.
Myrtle talked about being old enough to remember many things that most people can only discuss after looking at old photographs
She can recall still traveling by a horse-pulled carriage, fetching water from a pump well, and getting milk straight from the cow. She went through the Great Depression, two world wars and lived for a time in a log cabin.
To top it off, Delong is taking each day one at a time. She does her own dishes, cooks her own meals during the day and still washes her own laundry.
Myrtle wishes she could reveal the secret to staying so healthy after 103 years to pass on the secrets, but she says she honestly doesn’t know.
“I wish I knew,” Myrtle said. “But I don’t know. I just say that God doesn’t want me yet.”
Myrtle still lives in the same home that she and her husband moved into just months after their wedding in 1931. Her husband, Harley, died in 1983, and she has lived by herself at the residence ever since.
She fondly recalls when she and her husband first made their home at the residence.
“We had no electric,” Myrtle said. “Our heating was done with a coal and wood stove, typically we used wood. We carried all of our water from outside from a well that we pumped water out of. We went out and milked the cow each morning to get our milk.”
Myrtle said she also can remember washing clothes on a washing board before washing machines came around.
The farm that Myrtle lives on was originally bought by her grandfather after he returned from the Civil War. He bought the farm in 1861 with money he earned while in the war. While the farm land owned by Delong is now rented out, ownership still remains in the hands of the family.
While the original home still stands, it has been added onto over the years.
Myrtle had four children, but she has outlived three of them. Her surviving son, Ned, also of Wapakoneta, said her attitude may be what has kept her alive so long.
“She has always been nice and there is not a mean bone in her body,” Ned said. “ I would say that is what has kept her around so long.”
Myrtle has been fortunate enough to live her 103 years without ever having a major illness and only has had a slight loss in her hearing at her age.
In her time during the day, she also has been famous among the family for her pies and cookies, as well as her homemade noodles.
She also likes to watch “The Price is Right” each day. She occasionally likes to go to auctions. She still currently has her motor vehicle operator’s license and predominantly drove herself just about anywhere she had to go until she was 101.
She also goes to Silver Sheers once a week to have her hair done by her favorite stylist, Becky.
The family is planning a special birthday party for Myrtle Sunday at RJ’s Coffee Cup. However, she said she is at a loss for a birthday gift.
“I have everything I want,” Myrtle said.
Myrtle has the distinction of being the last surviving member of the first graduating class of Cridersville High School back in 1926. During her years, she spent 19 years working as the head cook at Northridge Elementary School.
Myrtle had one bit of advice to give everyone, no matter what age their age.
“Life is too short,” Myrtle said. “It pays to smile. Don’t be a grouch.”

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