Gladwill: Still bowling until age 88
- Susan Matheny
- Madras Pioneer - News
Mildred Gladwill, 93, and Jack Watts, 82, will reign over this year's Jefferson County Pioneer Association Picnic as the Pioneer Queen and Pioneer Man.
The 54th Annual Pioneer Picnic will begin with a potluck lunch at 1 p.m., Sunday, July 16, in the Maccie Conroy Building at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Born July 4, 1913, at Tenmile, near Roseburg, to Walter and Louisa (Porter) Coats, Mildred grew up in a house on her great-grandfather's donation land claim. She had one sister, Elta, who was two years older.
"My great-grandfather came to Oregon around 1852 by wagon train and both of my great-grandmothers have written stories about coming across the plains by wagon train," she said.
Besides farming their own place, she said her father and grandfather traveled around at harvest time doing threshing for other people. Through the years, her dad also did other jobs including working as a logger, mail carrier, and millwright.
Childhood memories include ones of walking across the pasture to her grandparents' house and getting stickers in her feet because she was barefoot.
The two girls had a lot of chores on the farm. They helped hoe their mother's large garden and during hay harvest Mildred was assigned a special job.
"The barn had a derrick, or fork, to pick up the hay and a draft horse was used to pull the hay up into the barn with the derrick and a rope. My job was to lead the derrick horse when they brought in the hay," she said, noting the men in the barn would yell when the hay got to the right place, and she would stop the horse.
Her sister was her main playmate until they started attending the two-room Tenmile School, which had around 25 students. "We always had a lot of fun at school and always put on programs at Christmas where we'd get up and say our poems," she recalled.
Favorite recess activities included playing Red Rover, and picking flowers. "In the springtime we'd pick flowers in the woods by the school. There was a cream-colored one called Lamb's Tongue that we picked," she said.
They also attended the Tenmile Methodist Church, which their great-grandfather started in the community.
When her sister was old enough to attend high school, the family moved into Roseburg, where her dad got a job with the railroad. Mildred had been able to skip a grade, and was an eighth-grader, just one grade behind her sister.
After graduating from Roseburg High School in 1930, Mildred attended teacher's Normal School in Monmouth for one year, and in Ashland for a year, where she graduated with a teaching certificate.
"It was always in my mind to be a teacher, because I liked to work with children," she said.
Her first position was teaching fifth through eighth grades at a rural school up the Smith River out of Reedsport. The students, who all lived along the river, rode a "boat bus" to class instead of a school bus.
Next, she stayed with her folks and returned to teach at the Tenmile School she had attended. While there, she began dating George Gladwill, a classmate of hers from Roseburg High School.
"He'd come out and get me and we'd go for rides and do different things," she said, recalling a time when he came out in an old Model-T Ford to take her to visit his brother who worked at a lookout station on top of a steep hill. "The old Ford had a gravity-flow gas system and couldn't make it, so we had to turn around and back up the hill," she laughed.
She and George were married Aug. 11, 1936, and lived in Roseburg, where he worked as a log truck driver. She had been teaching at the Wilbur School, north of Roseburg, but quit to raise a family. Their daughter Charlene was born in 1937.
George got a job driving a gravel truck in Central Oregon, and the Gladwills moved to Crescent in 1939. He eventually sold his truck and used the money to become a part-owner of a service station in downtown Redmond, located where Centwise Drug Store is now. The family lived in Redmond for nine years, and their second daughter Donna was born April 12, 1941.
In Redmond, Mildred started working part-time with an accountant and was trained as a bookkeeper. "The accountant had the Tum-A-Tum Lumber account and finally I took it over and worked for them direct," she said, noting she did bookkeeping for both the Tum-A-Lum and Copeland lumber companies.
In 1952 the Gladwills bought a farm in Culver, where they raised cattle, alfalfa, potatoes, and mint.
"We had to pay for the farm, so I kept working," Mildred said, noting she was working at the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service office in Madras, when she got another offer.
"Superintendent Gerald Newton told me they needed another first grade teacher. So I got a five-year certificate to teach, and after that was up I got a lifetime-certificate," she said, noting, "They don't issue those anymore."
At Madras Grade School, Mildred taught first grade in Room 23 for 19 years, retiring in 1975.
In the community, she was a member of the Rebekah's Lodge where she played the piano on special occasions, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Friendly Neighbor Club.
"The Friendly Neighbor Club was mostly women from the Little Plains area. We had acreage there, so I guess they thought I qualified. We'd meet monthly to talk, have fun, play games and keep up on the neighbors," Mildred chuckled.
She and George also enjoyed playing cribbage and bowling. They bowled together in a mixed league, and Mildred also bowled with two women's teams, the Thursday Nite Kegglers and Wednesday Morning League.
"My very good friend Juanita Ball and I would have dinner and bowl on Thursday nights. Then our husbands would come in and bowl doubles with us," Mildred said, adding she continued bowling until age 88.
Retiring from farming, the Gladwills moved to a six-acre place near Madras in 1983, but George passed away just two weeks after they moved.
Mildred continued to live on the place, and said a Culver friend Betty Jean Huxen got her involved in attending the United Methodist Church again. She served eight years as the church treasurer and said (Pioneer Man), "Jack Watts and I counted lots of money together at church.
On a hot day in August of 2001, she had been working outside, then was headed to the dump with a load of debris when she blacked out and was involved in an accident, which left her with a broken hip and crushed ankle. She spend a month at a rehabilitation center, then came home in a wheelchair, but eventually made a full recovery.
"I'm a tough old nut, but it did end my bowling career," she observed.
Just two months after the accident, her daughter Charlene died of breast cancer, which was another blow. The following spring, Mildred's doctor convinced her to move into town so she wouldn't have to drive anymore, and she found a beautiful home on Hillcrest Street. Her flower garden includes an old-fashioned rose brought over the Oregon Trail by her great-grandmother.
Today Mildred has four grandchildren, which include Dean Kenfield and Linda Eckland of Portland, Kathy Wolff of Crooked River Ranch and the late Terri Nicholas; and five great-grandchildren, Dillan Wolff of CRR, Tanya and Brian Dalrymple of Portland, Misty Nicholas of Bend, and Ashley Nicholas of Columbus, Ohio.
You can find her at the Jefferson County Senior Center three days a week, the Tuesday Morning Bible Study group, playing pinochle Tuesday and Friday nights, and playing "Hand and Foot," a canasta-style card game at her neighbor Reba Brewer's on Sunday afternoons.
Of being selected the Pioneer Queen Mildred said, "I'm amazed. I feel like it's a great honor."