By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, MN Decked in a sequined fuchsia top, lilac slacks, and orchid nail polish, Maryon McCalla was the life of the party at Dassel Lakeside Apartments Jan. 28.
“I like purple, and I like rock ‘n’ roll music,” Maryon affirmed, in between a steady stream of guests stopping to chat and wish her a happy birthday.
Maryon knows a thing or two about birthdays, since she’s had more of them than most people ever will. Born Jan. 27, 1912 in Stockholm Township, the oldest of nine children, Maryon has lived through times of war and times of peace, times of hardship and times of plenty.
“I graduated from Cokato High School in 1930, and I got married during the [Great] Depression,” she said.
Maryon and her husband, Orrin, spent the early years farming in rural Howard Lake, and raised four children Dolores, Charles, Roger, and Howard.
The kids are now great grandparents, but Maryon hasn’t stopped mothering them.
“How would you like to be 85 years old and still have your mother give you hell for coming in late?” Dolores asked.
Maryon keeps her family on their toes, catching up with them daily on the phone.
“She remembers everything,” Dolores said. “She’ll ask about something that happened 70 years ago, and say ‘You remember that, don’t you?’”
“All I’ve got is my marbles,” Maryon quipped.
One thing Maryon remembers is learning how to milk cows after she married a farmer.
“I always told my husband that the good Lord put the udder on the wrong end of the cow,” Maryon said, explaining that she’d often get swished by a tail, or the cow would knock the bucket over.
In 1948, the family quit farming and moved to town in Howard Lake. Once the kids were older, Maryon worked for Tonka Toys in Mound, and later at Donaldson’s, a department store in Minneapolis.
The family then worked together to build nursing homes around the state and country.
“We used to have about 20 nursing homes,” Maryon said. “I wish I had written a book on it”
She often heard interesting stories from the elderly, but never had as much time as she would have liked to stop and listen. Now, she recalls the advice a friend once gave: “You’re never going to find the time. You’ve got to take it.”
Maryon has applied this to her own life, and has learned not to wait until it’s too late to make time for what’s important.
“You might think of calling someone, but you don’t do it,” she said. “Then, their name is in the obituaries.”
Maryon loves being with family, and said “I think the best time in my life was raising my children.”
Now, she has 54 direct descendants.
“It’s really a blessing to live to see all your children and grandchildren,” she said, adding that “they all help me when I need help.”
Maryon’s family has been throwing an open house get-together for her every year since she turned 100, and more than 100 people always show up. At her 100th birthday party, Maryon proved she still had a good sense of humor, joking that she didn’t know she had so many friends, and that all her enemies must have already died.
Before the cake was cut this year, Maryon extended her appreciation to all who took the time to celebrate with her.
“I want to thank everyone who came to my party and made this such a happy day,” she said. “. . . Hope to see you all again next year.”