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100 years on 100th day

Kindergartners listen to 100-year-old Olive Roome as she tells them about what it was like when she was their age. (Republican Eagle photo by John R. Russett)

Sunnyside kindergarten students had an experience 100 years in the making Wednesday morning.

When Olive Roome was introduced to the crowd of students — celebrating their 100th day of school — seated quietly on the floor of a Sunnyside classroom, a sound of amazement, mixed with slight disbelief, rose as they heard she was 100 years old.

Roome, the oldest of four children, was born on a farm in western New York on May 1, 1913, and she went to Sunnyside to talk to the students about her experiences spanning across 100 years.

At 4 years old her family moved into town, Roome said, which consisted of one road and two stores.

She walked to school every day, and elementary through high school classrooms were all in the same building.

Roome said she went home for lunch during the school days, prompting a student to ask what kind of food the family ate.

“We had pancakes an awful lot,” she said, adding someone in the village went to college and studied chemistry so they had a good pancake mix.

Fun and games

Curiosity arose around what Roome did for fun and what kind of toys she had.

When she was 9 years old, Roome said, she was the first girl in town to get a girl’s bike, but added she usually enjoyed playing baseball as opposed to playing with dolls.

Roome told the children she had no television when she was little and her father built one of the first radios in town.

There was also no electricity in her house until the late 1920s when her father wired the house himself.

One thing Roome said she did a lot of to pass the time was sledding. She said her family lived at the bottom of a hill and when the farmers would drive past in their wagons – pulled by a couple horses – they would let her tie the sled to the back of the wagon and tow her back to the top of the hill.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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