By Peter G. Tamburro, Boomerang staff writer
In May, to celebrate Older Americans Month, we asked our followers on Facebook to send us pictures that fit the theme: "Never too old to..." Staff at Episcopal Retirement Homes sent us this photo of 102 year old Jo Millhouse getting ready to take a ride on a Harley to celebrate her birthday. Recently, I sat down with Jo to talk about the picture, her parents and her family.
Jo was born on May 8, 1910 in the small town of Covington, Ohio, population 2,000. Jo recalls, "When I was in high school, I did crazy things, like going out for varsity basketball and playing for four years. I knew a boy who had a Harley. I asked if I could ride it and he said, 'Sure.' From that point, he used to give me rides to school." She graduated in 1928, the year before the stock market crashed.
After graduation, Jo spent the next three years in nurses training at Miami Valley Hospital and began working as a night supervisor from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. "I made $90 a month and got three uniforms, laundered and all, and room and meals. Nurses were different than they are today. We had the starched caps and the handkerchief. Mrs. Schroeder was the Director of Nurses and was wonderful! You had compassion for the patients, rubbed their backs and made them feel comfortable. We didn't have malpractice back then." She was an R.N. for 50 years and retired when she turned 74.
Jo married Clarence Millhouse in 1933. "I had been putting away money every month for two and a half years. It was the Depression and the banks had closed. I only got back one-quarter of one percent of what I saved. We were counting on that to get married, so we only ended up with one hundred dollars between us. Rev. Payne, in the Presbyterian Church in Winchester, Indiana, married us. Clarence was into sports, and we were together for 68 years. My husband was a farmer, and he told me, 'Never get rid of the land if I go before you. They're not making any new land.' Hardly a day goes by when a real estate agent doesn't call me."
When Jo turned 80, her nephew marked the occasion by taking her for a ride on his Harley and taking the bike up to 80 mph. Twenty-two years later, Jo asked the maintenance technician at Canterbury Court Apartments, a retirement community in West Carrollton owned and operated by Episcopal Retirement Homes in Cincinnati, "Will you take me for a ride on your motorcycle?"
He replied, "When do you wanna go?"
Jo responded, "When I am 102!"
And off they rode. To keep the festivities rolling, her son Jerry and his wife took Jo to North Carolina to the Billy Graham Library. Jo recalls, "What a dream come true. I got to see the house where he lived."
About her longevity, she comments, "I had an aunt that lived to be 100 and 3 months - that was 50 years ago. You've got to make the most of this life you have because you have to think about eternity. I can't believe the Lord has kept me alive all these years."
And in planning for her 103rd birthday, Jo says, "I'll ride a motorcycle if one's available!"
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