105 and counting — Gridley woman thankful for a long, rewarding life – Chico Enterprise-Record


GRIDLEY – The year was 1917. Buffalo Bill Cody had died, the U.S. entered World War I, the Bolsheviks seized control of the Russian government, the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Giants in the 15th World Series, a newspaper cost two cents, a loaf of bread was nine cents, coffee was 30 cents a pound and Thanksgiving turkeys cost 39 cents a pound. It was also the year that Ella Fitzgerald, John F. Kennedy, Dizzy Gillespie and Alma (Parker) Glaze was born.

This Thanksgiving, surrounded by family and friends, Glaze will be celebrating her 105th birthday with the traditional holiday turkey dinner and a cake at the home of her son, Mike Glaze.

“I’m looking forward to it. I don’t need anything. I have no desire for anything special just nice cards and my family. The Lord gives me all I need,” said Glaze on Monday sitting in her home of 38 years and reflecting on her century of life.

Born November 24, 1917 to Rufus Kay and Alma Jenkins (Bowden) Parker, sharecroppers in Heavener, rural southeastern Oklahoma, Glaze was the youngest of 11 children but, when she was born only five of her siblings — three brothers and two sisters – were living. The closest doctors were hundreds of miles away and still births and early childhood deaths were not unusual.

The Parkers didn’t have much money but Glaze remembers a nurturing and loving childhood.

“We always attended a good church. Every night before bed, we’d get on our knees and thanked the Lord for the day and asked for a good night. Life was beautiful and it still is,” she said.

While Glaze has witnessed a lot of history and the advent of many new inventions in her 105 years, she remembers the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II as the most significant. And while electricity was invented before she was born, she said electric lighting and heat are the best things ever invented. She’s also a fan of indoor plumbing having grown up using an outhouse.

“Having heat and light in your house, that’s something. Growing up we had oil lamps and candles. I still have lamps, right up there on the mantle, to remind myself of what it was like and in case the electricity goes out,” she said.

In addition to growing cotton, sorghum and corn, the Parkers had a large family garden and raised chickens, hogs and cattle as well as dairy cow to feed themselves. Squirrel, possum, venison and fresh-caught fish also augmented their diet.

“As a kid I could do things on the farm. I worked all my life. From the time I can remember I knew how to use a hoe in the cotton and corn fields. I also drove the mule and horses to pull the plow and wagon. I was no dummy,” said Glaze.

When Glaze was eight, her father had saved enough money to buy a used Model T Ford.

“It was very exciting but my dad never did learn to drive that Model T. I drove him where he needed to go,” recalled Glaze.

Willie and Lucie Glaze and their 10 children lived about a mile from the Parker’s farm. Glaze’s mom, Alma Parker, a midwife, had assisted in the birth of one of the Glaze’s children, Clifford, four years before Glaze herself was born.

When Clifford Glaze was 19 and Alma Parker was 15, the two fell in love and got married.

“I rode to my wedding on horseback,” said Glaze.

Shortly after their marriage, the Great Depression hit and the newlyweds began an 11-year westward migration.  Between 1933 and 1944 they lived in Lubbock, Texas; Bernalillo, New Mexico; Yuba City, California; Yuma, Arizona; and then returned to California settling down in Gridley.  Although jobs were scarce, Glaze’s husband was rarely unemployed.  He worked as carpenter, truck driver, mechanic and farm laborer.  During World War II he helped build both Beale Air Force Base near Marysville and the Yuma Army Air Field in Arizona.  Glaze also worked as a waitress, homemaker and mother to their first child, Shirley born in 1935. Their second child, Mike, was born in 1948 and their third child, Dan, was born in 1954.

Glaze is now the grandmother of six, great grandmother to “an even dozen” and the great-great grandmother to four and, that, she said “is enough.”

Through the years while raising her children, Glaze worked at the peach cannery in Gridley, sold Avon, earned her high school diploma and studied nursing.

Glaze and her husband were married 76 “happy” and “hilarious” years before Clifford Glaze passed away in 2010. Glaze has been living on her own ever since declining invitations from family to live with them.

“I never feel alone. I have The Lord God. He is with me every day blessing and directing everything I do,” said Glaze.

The centenarian didn’t stop driving herself to church, shopping and the local senior center until she was 101 and while she was convinced she could still pass the written DMV driving test with a “100-percent score,” decided not to renew her license when she was 103.

These days Glaze enjoys playing Dominos with her caregivers Sherry McKenzie and Tess Hennessy. She is visited regularly by her family. Every day at 3:50 p.m. she speaks by phone to her 88-year-old disabled neighbor and her husband’s friend, Jerry Wilson. She enjoys singing and watching her favorite shows – Wheel of Fortune, and reruns of Bill Gaither Classic Gospel and the Lawrence Welk Show on PBS. She doesn’t own a computer or cell phone and has “no desire” to have either as they are “just waste of good time.”

On the secret to longevity Glaze said this: “Make a commitment to the Lord, stay in communion with him and avoid drugs and heavy drinking and eat a balanced diet then life can be beautiful but you have to work toward that end. Life is a great gift from God but you’ve got to do more than just look at it. You have to live it. You have to enjoy it. That’s what God wants and it’s beautiful.”




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