Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 5, 2004

Lorene Harlow celebrates 100th birthday

By Cindy Zitzloff

Lorene Harlow remembers the Great Depression when even weeds wouldn’t grow. She remembers five-cent hogs and corn, and learning how to drive an Overland.

The story of her life is a story familiar to her daughter in Winsted, eight granddaughters who grew up in the Winsted area, and numerous great-grandchildren in the area.

Harlow turned 100 years old April 1, and is the mother of long-time Winsted resident Marian (Harlow) Jagodzinski.

Dominic and Marian Jagodzinski had eight daughters, Moni, Philly, Kate, Cindy, Lorna, Terri, Micki, and Carrie.

Harlow was born the fifth of seven children in Dows, Iowa in 1904, according to granddaughter Phyllis Johnson of Campbell, Calif.

Harlow lived in Iowa or Minnesota her entire life. She grew up on her father’s farm near Clarion, Iowa. Harlow went to the country school through the eighth grade.

She learned to drive a car in 1918 at the age of 14 when her father had her drive around the six mile country square. She made the trip successfully, but upon returning to their farm, she ran into a concrete stock tank. Lorene’s father had forgotten to tell her about the brakes.

Harlow attended high school for four years and six months. The extra six months were for her to be able to teach at the country school, which she did for a year and a half before marrying and starting a family.

She married Olin Harlow June 2, 1924. Olin’s parents farmed just a mile down the road on the opposite side from Lorene’s parents’ farm.

In 1925, Clayton was born, the first of their seven children. Three years later, in 1928, Milton was born, followed by Marian in 1930.

From 1934 to 1939, Mary Lou, Dick, Naomi, and Donnie were born. Except for her last two, all of her babies were born at home, mostly with a doctor in attendance (a couple of times he didn’t make it in time). Naomi and Donnie were both born in a hospital.

Between 1925 and 1939, Lorene and Olin moved their family 12 times, all around the same area. They were farmers, and in 1931 with five-cent hogs and corn, they couldn’t make it.

Olin took a job selling hog feed, but the farmers had no money to buy it.

In January 1932, their family moved to another farm and took care of the livestock and did the farming for very small wages.

In the fall of 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt established Works Progress Administration (WPA), and Olin got work with the road crew working on roads. This was a lifesaver for them and allowed them to buy a car, such as it was.

After the WPA, Olin took another job doing the farming on another farm and earned wages of $5 per week. The summer of ’34 was so hot and dry that the weeds didn’t even grow.

Olin worked now and then for neighboring farmers and also at the local feed mill.

Eventually, Olin worked full time for the feed mill where he stayed until 1940. They had been in the same house since the fall of 1936, a record for them, Johnson said.

In 1942, they moved to Sebeka, Minnesota, with high hopes which turned sour, when their first herd of cows came down with bang’s disease.

After Lorene’s children were grown, she worked many jobs as well. All in all, Lorene and Olin moved 30 times until 1965 when they returned to Lorene’s girlhood home of Clarion, Iowa, to move in with and care for her 93-year-old father, who incidentally lived until he was just 14 days shy of his 100th birthday.

It was in Clarion that Harlow joined the VFW Auxiliary, of which she is still a member today. Harlow served one year as president. She enjoys being involved and also belonged to two of Clarion’s lodges.

In 1970, Lorene and Olin bought a lot on Lake Jefferson near Cleveland, Minn (near St. Peter). With the help of their children and grandchildren, they built a nice cabin.

The 11 years they had the cabin were some of the happiest years of their lives Lorene makes it known. Each summer their children and grandchildren came to be with them at the cabin to create many wonderful memories.

In 1974, Lorene and Olin celebrated 50 years of marriage.

In 1982, Olin passed away from colon cancer. Lorene sold the cabin and continued to live in Clarion for nearly 20 more years until she moved to Wabasha, Minn. in 2001, to be closer to her family. Three of her seven children live between Rochester and Kellogg, Minn.

“I am so proud of my family. In spite of all the times we moved into strange neighborhoods and the times they had to change schools, they went right ahead and graduated. The boys all served their country, two in the Army, and two in the Marines. They have all done well and have done it on their own,” Lorene said.

Her seven children, all of whom are still living, have a total of 44 children (Lorene’s grandchildren).

She also has 91 great grandchildren and 15 great-great grandchildren.

Amazingly, Lorene knows each of them by name and in most cases, can still tell you their date of birth.

Lorene is still in good health with all her wits about her. She still takes care of herself with minimal assistance. She had her third hip replacement surgery at the young age of 97. She chose to have the operation (again) because without it she believed she would not enjoy the quality of life she has today, and she didn’t want to live that way.

Lorene believes that the key to her longevity is that she has lived a good clean life. She has had lots of support and has kept herself busy.

She spends her days reading, watching TV (mostly educational shows), crocheting patterned outfits for dolls to be given to needy children through Tender Loving Care Toys out of North St. Paul, and spends a lot of time visiting with family and friends.

Lorene looked forward to celebrating with hundreds of family and friends at a huge party in Wabasha thrown by her family in honor of her reaching this extraordinary milestone birthday.

During the celebration a 35-minute audio visual photo history presentation of her life was shown, and a 48-foot wide display of her family tree, along with a family quilt and pillows that contain every one of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren’s names were on display.


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