Woodland Village in Chehalis celebrated the lives of eight centenarians on Monday. Ahead of the celebration, The Chronicle was able to interview four of them as they reflected on their more than 100 years of life and shared their experiences.
Louise Carpenter, 100, was born on April 15, 1922, in Bellingham. She grew up on a “little” farm in Snohomish County. In Carpenter’s telling, her childhood was a simple one.
“I didn’t do very much,” she said.
Carpenter recalled what it was like when her family first got electricity on their farm when she was 7 years old.
“I can remember when we got electricity because I was in awe of the electric light,” Carpenter recalled.
When the Great Depression began in 1929, Carpenter said her family learned to deal with the new economic realities.
“Well, we just did without,” Carpenter said. “I don’t remember suffering much, but we didn’t need much.”
After World War II began in late 1941, Carpenter began working in the shipyards of Puget Sound as a sheet metal worker. As the war progressed, she was given the opportunity to learn how to fly.
“It was really exciting to me,” Carpenter said. “We had to go to Spokane because there was no flying on the West Coast because of the war.”
After the war ended in 1945, Carpenter got a job as an aircraft communicator at the airport in Toledo, where she lived for 50 years. Carpenter managed to live a remarkably independent life well into her later years, living on her own until she moved to Woodland Village last July at the age of 99.
Today, Carpenter, who had one daughter with her husband, is the grandmother of four grandchildren.[caption id="attachment_14024" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Centenarian Shirley Nelson smiles alongside Peggy Brooks during a celebration at Woodland Village in Chehalis on Monday.[/caption]
Shirley Nelsen, 101, was born in Rochester 10 minutes after midnight on July 2, 1921. Like other people her age, Nelsen lived through the Great Depression, experiencing levels of poverty common to that era.
“At that time we were quite young, but I remember my mom telling people later on that she robbed our piggy bank to buy bread,” Nelsen said.
Nelsen’s father was a mechanic and often had to move his family around to find work during the Depression, eventually moving to logging camps in California where they had no electricity and had to use kerosene lamps for lighting. But in 1932, Nelsen’s family was dealt a blow when an earthquake struck the state.
“We moved back up after a week of aftershocks and so my dad said, ‘We’re going home,’ and so we moved back up to Washington again (even though he didn’t have a job),” Nelsen said.
As a young adult, Nelsen took a civil service exam at the Chehalis Post Office, after which she was hired as a secretary for the surgeon general’s office in Washington D.C., arriving in time for the beginning of World War II.
“I can remember vividly where I was when I heard the announcement that Pearl Harbor had been attacked,” Nelsen said. “I was in my room and had the radio on when they announced the attack.”
Nelsen remembered the difficulties of life during the war, when wartime restrictions meant major changes in people’s daily lives.
“We did what we had to do, like conserving gasoline, and we had stamps to buy sugar and meats so we prioritized things because you couldn’t go in the grocery store and buy anything you wanted,” Nelsen said. “We did whatever we could do to help.”
Around 1943, Nelsen moved home to be near her family again. She said she wanted to be closer to her loved ones since “you didn’t know what was going to happen” during the war.
Thinking about the world events she’s lived through, Nelsen said two of the most notable were the death of Thomas Edison and the moon landing, in part because of her longstanding interest in technology and the future.“I was always interested in what’s going to happen in the future. We used to go to movies that were about the future, which we’re living in now,” Nelsen said. “The moonwalk of course was very exciting for me.” But Nelsen also found some aspects of advances in technology frightening. She called life during the Cold War “scary” because of the spread of nuclear weapons. “Your imagination could kind of take off about what could happen,” Nelsen said.
Cascade Pygmy Goat Association Brings Furry Friends to Village
The staff at Woodland Village in Chehalis works to make sure the seniors who reside there are always the center of attention.
But on Thursday afternoon, a group of furry visitors stole the show.
Four pygmy goats — Sue and Rain, both 3 years old, and their babies, Maria, 8 weeks, and Luna, 3 months — were brought from their home in Winlock to entertain the seniors who happily poured all of their attention on the small animals, which are affiliated with the Cascade Pygmy Goat Association.
As the seniors gathered around to pet and hold the small goats, Sundina Bryan, 50, the owner of the goats, and her “goat partner” Nicole Desmond, 43, answered questions and helped the residents handle their new friends.
“How much do they weigh when they’re born?” one senior asked.
“Two to four pounds,” answered one of the handlers.
Another senior asked if they give the goats treats to train them.
“I don’t give them treats so they behave without them,” Bryan responded.
A different resident asked if the goats minded water.
“Yes they do! Goats can’t stand water. They’re like the Wicked Witch of the West. They think they’re melting,” Bryan said.
Someone else asked about their horns.
“We have all the goats disbudded,” meaning the horns are removed, Desmond said. “It actually makes it safer for the goats so they don’t hurt each other.”[caption id="attachment_13971" align="alignleft" width="500"] Nicole Desmond, center left, smiles while holding a baby pygmy goat at Woodland Village Concepts of Chehalis while visiting residents and staff Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jared Wenzelburger[/caption]
Bryan would later add Maria and Luna had been debudded a couple weeks ago and their skin would grow back where the horns were.
“They almost always look perpetually pregnant, but they’re not,” Desmond said after one senior asked if the two mother goats were pregnant.
“They eat meat, which is why they get so chunky,” Bryan added.
As Bryan and Desmond, both members of the Cascade Pygmy Goat Association, the oldest such association in the Pacific Northwest, walked to another area of the retirement community, they answered questions from The Chronicle.
“We do about five shows a year. We show them until October, about every three weeks,” Bryan said.
“Winning ribbons is fun,” Desmond added.
Bryan said she’s been raising pygmy goats for eight years now.
“I got invited to a table at a show, and it’s been history ever since,” Bryan said.
Desmond said she had only been working with Bryan and the goats for a year.
“I’m from Southern California, so I never had farm animals. I’ve only been doing this for a year. (Bryan) is my neighbor and I brought my daughter over to see (the goats) and she fell in love with them, and that’s how I got started,” Desmond said.
The two women also discussed the reproduction process for the pygmy goats.
“You want to breed them by the time they’re 18 months old,” Desmond said.
“After 18 months, they won’t take,” Bryan added.[caption id="attachment_13975" align="alignleft" width="500"] Ruth Kitchel smiles while petting a pygmy goat at Woodland Village Concepts of Chehalis Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jared Wenzelburger[/caption]
Bryan said the goats nurse for 10 weeks and are later fed orchard hay as well as meat pellets with barley. When asked how long pygmy goats typically live, Desmond said they usually have a 12- to 15-year lifespan.
“They’re such a sweet natured animal … It’s so cool to watch the moms just know ‘that’s my baby,’” Desmond said.
“I love being an ambassador for the breed. They'll cuddle with you when handled from an early age. It makes them great for seniors,” Desmond added.
As they brought the goats to a new part of Woodland Village, the goats had the chance to receive attention from another group of seniors.
Desmond told the seniors that pygmy goats come from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa.
“Lots of people don’t know pygmy is a breed and not a size,” Desmond said.
As the visit to the retirement center wound down, Bryan and Desmond began to discuss the rising popularity of pygmy goat ownership.
“More and more cities are making it legal to own pygmy goats within city limits,” Bryan said.
“They’re definitely becoming much more popular as a backyard animal,” Desmond added.
The two said the best thing to do if considering the purchase of a pygmy goat is to visit the website of the Cascade Pygmy Goat Association which lists all members, allowing a buyer to connect with a breeder.
They also warned that if one were to buy from a breeder who is not a member of the association, the customer risks the possibility of buying a crossbred goat that isn’t pure pygmy. But the two also emphasized that someone seeking to buy a pygmy goat needed to buy at least two of them due to the breed’s nature as a herd animal.
Learn more at http://www.cpga-pygmy.com/.
- Village Concepts is proud to share that over 95% of our residents are fully vaccinated.
- All staff members are required to be vaccinated.
- As part of our on-going commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff, booster vaccines have been made available to our staff members and residents.
- We have completed our flu vaccinations at all Communities.
Dream Flights: 97-Year-Old Marjorie Foydl Was Excited for Flight After Months of Isolation Due to Pandemic
Woodland Village in Chehalis is home to a few World War II veterans, but only one of them felt like heading to the Chehalis-Centralia Airport at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning for a joyride in a 1940s Boeing Stearman biplane — 97-year-old Marjorie Foydl.
The nonprofit organization “Dream Flights” is on a nationwide mission to put veterans in vintage planes.
Its quest has begun by flying members of the Greatest Generation.
“They are giving, across the country, all the World War II vets a chance to go up in these biplanes. They figured that it’s a pretty cool endeavor to give back a little bit to our war vets,” said Sharon Ripp, program coordinator at Woodland Village.
Foydl served in New York as a Yeoman in the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II recording interviews through shorthand notes.[caption id="attachment_13704" align="alignleft" width="225"] Marge Foydl smiles while sitting in a plane before her flight flight at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport Sunday morning.[/caption]
“We just went around to various places to take interviews. We could be in the hospital, we could be in prison,” Foydl said. “I had my original learning in Florida then I went up to New York.”
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, she followed in the footsteps of family who were also in the Coast Guard.
“I thought it would be kind of nice to get out of Duluth,” she said.
After the war, she and her husband of 43 years lived in Hawaii. She worked in Honolulu as an executive secretary and personnel director for an insurance company.
Once most of her friends there had died, her niece who lives in the area asked Foydl to move closer. She has been in Chehalis for eight years now.
Foydl recalled the hardships of being in a senior living facility throughout the pandemic, saying she felt disconnected from the outside world.
“I found it very lonely,” she said. “For fun I’d just get on the computer and play cards.”
So, the opportunity to get out of the house and up in a plane was a thrilling outing for her. And that’s exactly the feeling Dream Flights hopes to give to veterans.
After the flight, the pilot has lunch with the veteran and talks to them about their lives and experience in whichever branch of the military they served.
When asked about a standout memory from her time in the Coast Guard, Foydl told The Chronicle: “When the war was over New York went crazy. That was party time.”
To learn more about Dream Flights and how to schedule them for individual veterans or groups, go to dreamflights.org.