By Sam Jack
Conway Springs resident Maxine Martin celebrated her 100th birthday over the weekend, sharing the occasion with residents of Spring View Manor on Friday and with family and other friends on Saturday and Sunday.
At Spring View, third-graders from Kyle Trueblood Elementary treated Maxine to a Thanksgiving skit, and Mayor Jessica Gerlach gave a speech and presented her with a certificate. Her three children – Connie, Joyce and Jerry – were also on hand.
“Not very many people get to have their mother till she’s 100,” Connie Bishop said. “We’re very grateful.”
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Nov. 22 print edition of the Star-Argosy. To see stories like this sooner, and to get all your community news, subscribe to the paper. Call 316-540-0500 to get home delivery of the next edition.
On the topic of being a centenarian, Maxine said it just happened one day at a time.
“I’ve had a wonderful life, and an awful lot of history has passed in my lifetime,” she said.
She was born just a few days after the World War I armistice, but the most pivotal historical event of her early life was the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which marked the start of the Great Depression.
Both the Depression and the Dust Bowl had a severe effect on Maxine’s family, and her father struggled to hang on at his farm near Scott City before ultimately losing it.
“When my mother put us kids to bed, she’d put newspapers over the top of our bed, and in the morning she’d say, ‘Now lay real still so I can get the newspapers and the dirt off of you,’” Maxine said, recalling the Dust Bowl years. “When we cooked, we had to just raise the lid up a little bit, dip the spoon in and put the lid back on to keep the dust out. That was a bad time. … Our barn was right close to the house, but my dad strung a clothesline between the two buildings, and we followed the clothesline to the barn.”
After losing his farm, Maxine’s father joined thousands of others who were forced to become transient laborers. Her family spent some time living in a truck as her father traveled to find work.
Maxine earned her teaching license, and her first job as a teacher was in a one-room schoolhouse. She later worked in a Hutchinson bank while her husband, Lloyd, was deployed overseas in World War II.
Maxine didn’t get confirmation that Lloyd was safe until three weeks after the European armistice, which was distressing. “After about three or four weeks, I got a whole pile of his letters he had written,” she said.
Following the war, Maxine and Lloyd moved to the house on Cranmer Street that they shared until Lloyd died in 1990. Maxine lived at home until moving to Spring View Manor at age 99.
Between the couple’s retirement and Lloyd’s death, the pair spent six years on the road together, seeing America in an RV.
“We were in every state except one, and that one was Florida; why we didn’t circle around there, I don’t know,” Maxine said. “We put 50,000 miles on that RV in six years.”
Maxine assisted with reading classes in local schools, and Mayor Gerlach was among several people at Spring View last week who credited her with teaching them how to read.
Maxine was an early supporter of hospice care in Sumner County, and she is a founding member of Community Concern. She has made and donated a huge number of quilts and blankets as part of that group, and she still continues to participate, tying knots.
Except for limited vision, Maxine still enjoys good health. She has continued to support Conway Springs schools and students during her long retirement, and she enjoys sharing about her childhood and about what it was like to be a student and teacher in the early 20th century.
In addition to her three children, Maxine has eight grandchildren and more than 30 great- and great-great grandchildren.