Alcott celebrates 100th year
To reach the milestone of one’s 100th birthday is an accomplishment to say the least. But, says Margaret Alcott, there’s nothing she did in particular to get to that point. But, get there she will, this Sunday, April 24.
Born in 1916, Alcott says she was the last of three girls; born six years after her her other sisters.
“I was the baby,” she said. “The least I could have done was be a boy,” she laughed, since her parents already had two girls.
She grew up in Water Vliet, New York on the Hudson River where she attended Public School No. 1. Schools weren’t named for people then, she shared, but they were numbered to keep track.
After completing her elementary and secondary education, she went on to attend New York State Teacher’s College and earned her degree in English with a minor in Communication Subjects and History. She went on to teach English, typing and some history.
As a young woman, she felt the call to serve her country and in 1943 enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
“There was a war,” she responded when asked why she chose to enter the military. “They were looking for people after Pearl Harbor and the men were being sent to war.”
Alcott served as a ‘WAVE’ in the field of Naval Communications and was stationed in Washington, D.C.
“We were sworn to secrecy,” she said. “And I still don’t talk about my job then. But some people have written books about it,” she laughed.
Alcott left the Navy after serving three years. She received her discharge as a full Lieutenant.
She remained in Washington doing the same job in civilian life and married Eugene Alcott on Feb. 26, 1949. The two lived in Falls Church, Virginia but soon bought a farm outside of Shepherdstown where they brought their growing family on the weekends.
The couple raised three children: Janet, with whom Margaret now resides; Bruce who lives on the family farm near Cress Creek; and Barbara, who loves the snow in her home state of Colorado.
Following Eugene’s retirement, the couple relocated permanently to the 295-acre farm. Most of the property now is secured with conservation easements, Alcott said.
“We had a big garden,” she said. “And we raised black Angus cattle.It was never on a huge scale, just enough so two people kept busy chasing the cattle out of the field they weren’t supposed to be in.
After her husband’s death in 2009, Alcott moved into the “in-law” suite at her daughter, Janet’s home where Janet and her husband, Mike Shepp reside.
“I told Janet I would move in but it would only be for a couple of years, probably,” Alcott said. “That was six years ago,?I think.”
Alcott said that she never planned to live to be 100. She did not go about living her life with that goal.
“I’m not a big physical fitness nut, but I have had things to do.” She shared that she does take daily walks around her daughter’s farm.
“I have to walk everyday,” she said. “Otherswise, I’d just stiffen up.”
In addition to daily walks, her routine includes doing crossword puzzles each morning with her coffee. She cleans and reads and spends an easy hour on her IPad. She said that she has to be careful when reading because she can get wrapped up in a book and before she knows it several hours have passed.
Alcott celebrated her birthday last week with friends at the Shepherdstown Women’s Club where she has been a member for more than 35 years.
She was also an active member of the Charles Town AARP, but said she gave it up when she stopped driving.
When asked what in the 100 years of her life stands out as far as things in history, she said, “The world has changed but it was graduaal change. Some of the things are good and some of them are bad.”
She went on to add, “In a hundred years there are som many moments; it’s hard to pick out one.”
She did add that you wonder sometimes what the heck you did all those years.
As for things she wishes she had accomplished or done, she said she wishes she had traveled more. She and her husband traveled quite a bit and were fond of cruises. Taking a cruise on the Danube was one thing they talked about, she shared, but never got to do.
For her birthday this weekend, daughter Barbara is flying in as well as Alcott’s grandson. The family plans a small private gathering for dinner and a little party.