By Cornelia de Bruin
Triplicate staff writer
LaVerne Eidson describes her family as seeming "to be a family of permanent people" an apt description by the Addie Meedom House resident who celebrates her 102nd birthday today.
"It was 115 degrees in Fresno the day I was born," she said. "No one thought that I'd live so they loaded me and my sister, who was three years old, and all the other kids into a wagon and drove us into the mountains to cool us off."
At her impressive age, Eidson found it difficult stepping back and sharing her thoughts about her long journey.
"There are so many things that you liked to do," she said. "I liked to travel."
The first 15 years of her life included a lot of traveling. Her father ran a cattle operation in the Fresno area.
"We would travel California from north to south whenever he needed to sell cattle," she said.
But when time came for Eidson to attend high school, the family moved to Chowchilla, a town about 35 miles north of Fresno.
"It was a new school the first graduating class had one student, one graduate," she recalled. "My graduating class was 15 students, and one of them, Floyd Eidson, was my husband later."
Eidson remembered riding a stage line. Although she'd ridden the bus system to school for four years, she didn't drive a car until one afternoon when her father was working on one, he put her in a car that ran and told her to drive into town and pick up the part he needed.
"He showed me the steering wheel and the shifter; I'd never done it before, but I guess he had more faith in me than I did," she said.
She has since flown on a plane and visited Hawaii.
After Floyd and LaVerne moved to Berkeley after they married, later returning to Fresno and working there for their full careers.
Two of their children grew their roots deep into Fresno, both teaching mathematics in the schools there and in Salinas.
Eidson tried to stay healthy all her life. The homegrown food "that every country family ate" must have helped her achieve the goal.
She enjoyed her work accounting recalling that "I liked the tax work, trying to make it balance."
She doesn't remember having hobbies in her younger years, but enjoyed learning to knit and do "fancy work" after she retired.
During the years her perception of age has changed.
"I always thought my mother was very old when I was a girl," she said.
Referring to the staff at Addie Meedom, whom she calls "girls," Eidson shared that she asks staffers about their families, "and they start talking about their children and I realize, you must be 40 years old.'"
Her family has slipped away from her as she's aged. Her last child, a daughter, died in 2004.
"I was all alone in Fresno, so I came up here to be with my nephew, Doug," she said.
By then she had lost her eyesight and needed help with the daily activities of her life. She had seen the area before.
"I would just as soon live in the mountains," she said. "I don't like the ocean as much as the mountains."
The difference to her is that, "It's easier to see the mountains; I think it's hard to see the ocean, I think it hurts your eyes."
Eidson celebrates her birthday today with cake and ice cream.
"I like the ice cream; they know now to skip the cake and just hand it to me," she said.