Tricounty News

Zelda Stein: 105 years and still going

"It's something to be 105," said Don Stein quoting his twin brother Dale. "But it's really something to know you're 105." Since her birthday Jan. 17, Dale and Don's mother Zelda Stein has been deluged with cards, flowers and visitors. She made it on the "Today Show" for her 105th birthday, as she had for her 100th; Willard Scott again listed her among the centenarian birthdays. Through it all, she has remained calm and matter-of-fact about turning 105. After all, at her 100th birthday party, for which she flew to Arizona for a week, she said she didn't want another birthday party until 105.  While living to be 105 years old is quite a feat, she has nearly three years to go before she can top her mother, Louella Petty. "Grandma Lou," as she is known to a great many in and around Kimball, lived to be 107, nearly 108. "Everyone called her 'grandma'," said Don proudly, "but she was our real grandma." David Stein, Zelda's husband, lived to 96. He is buried in the Kimball Cemetery along with infant son Milo who died at three days. One of Zelda's sister made it to 98, but her other siblings died younger.   Zelda was 25 when she got married in 1928. She and David were married 70 years. That's quite another accomplishment. Just don't ask her what the secret is. Whether it's the secret of a long and happy life or a long and happy marriage, Zelda says she has no secrets. "You just do the best you can," she said. (This is the closest thing to a "secret" that she has revealed so far.) Zelda and David had twin boys, Dale and Don. Don arrived 20 minutes after Dale and was totally unexpected. Throughout her pregnancy, Don explained, Zelda kept dreaming about a second baby. Her doctor was emphatic that there was only one ... until Don was born. Don jokes that he's known in the family as the "potential tumor"; the potential tumor that turned into a successful banker, that is. Zelda's own arrival 105 years ago was a bit dramatic, too. Her mother Lou Petty was on her way from North Dakota home to Maine Prairie when Zelda was born - in the Glenwood railroad hotel. The twins recently turned 72. They winter in Arizona, as their parents used to do. Actually, there was a whole group of Kimballites who wintered in Arizona; they included Ardis and Reuben Eckman, Hazel and Elmer Eckman, Butch Knaus (Carlyle's father), and occasionally the Ellwood Erickson family. The Steins went to Arizona every winter from 1957 until about 1985. At first, Zelda admits she did miss going to Arizona those first winters they didn't go. "It doesn't make any difference now," she added. Now Zelda lives in a private room at Cokato Manor. She's been there nearly five years. Zelda is the oldest resident in Cokato Manor's 43 years. "They're real good to me here," she said, smiling. She enjoys playing games, especially Rummikub and Rack-O, and visiting. Zelda has five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Don attributes his mother's long life to good, clean living. Zelda agrees. "We led a farm-family's life, a conservative lifestyle," said Don. "I can't say I had too hard of a life," Zelda said. She and her husband David lived about 50 years on a farm just south of Kimball, and he worked on highways until his retirement. Zelda Stein grew up on a 100-acre farm in Hillside; "It's kind of a suburb of Fair Haven," she explained. She was the third child of six. She says she's had a good life, a happy life. But she doesn't plan to live to 110, she says with a wry chuckle. Zelda Stein was born in 1903, the year of the famous Wright Brothers flights at Kitty Hawk, S.C. That was also the year that the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company was launched. Don said his mother is most amazed at the changes in communication during her lifetime. She has seen the arrival of the first Model T (1908), the first talking motion picture (1910), the first television set (1928, the year Zelda and David were married), the first ballpoint pen (1944), the first LP record and the transistor (1948), the launch of Sputnik (1957), the first photocopier (1959), first man on the moon (1969), the first commercial cell phone call (1983), and development of the World Wide Web (1989). She grew up, worked, and raised her family before a number of conveniences too: the discovery of plastic (1907), invention of stainless steel (1913), first zipper (1914), first Band-Aid bandages (1921), first pickup truck (1931), invention of nylon (1935), Spam (1937), Teflon (1938), first refrigerator with a freezer compartment (1939), Tupperware (1942), first disposable diapers (1949), McDonald's (1954), Barbie dolls (1959), VCR (1971), pocket calculator (1972), and disposable razors (1974). Think about that, all you working moms and dads, the next time you jump into your car to get Pampers, frozen microwaveable pizza, and a plastic egg filled with pantyhose! ********** "From China to Old St. Anne's Pass and more" Saturday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m. You're invited to an outstanding program at Kimball's historic city hall, featuring historian Dan Becker, and historian-  anthropologist-archaeologist Morgan Woodward, who are authoring a book of St. Anne's, Kimball and Watkins area. The energetic team will present information of interest beyond any ever done in our area. Won't you join us for rare history, refreshments and reminiscing? It won't be the same without you. Bring friends and family. NOTE TIME CHANGE. You can help save Kimball's heritage. Become a member of The Kimball Area Historical Society. This is another friendly reminder that 2008 membership renewals are also welcome. Consider buying a friend or relative a gift membership. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT. City hall restoration project continues. We thank you for your generous donations to preserve our only national landmark. We promise to be faithful in finishing what has begun. The Kimball Area Historical Society, P.O. Box 100, Kimball MN 55353. (320) 398-5743,   (320) 398-5250, (800) 252-2521. "Glimpse the Past."