Marjorie Jarvis is a week away from becoming a centenarian, but she doesn’t act like one.
The La Grande resident, who turns 100 on April 8, has a spring in her step and endlessly works on crossword puzzles or reads mystery novels. Jarvis also closely follows her favorite baseball team, the Seattle Mariners. She vividly remembers when the team’s star pitcher, Felix Hernandez, began his career with Seattle in 2005.
Jarvis’ memory also stretches back to the 1920s when she was growing up in the Grande Ronde Valley and her father, Miles Woodell, used a Model T Ford to deliver the mail. Today, at 99, Jarvis’ memory appears untouched by Father Time but she wouldn’t be expected to recall one of the most discussed moments of her life.
Jarvis was born not in a hospital but in the middle of a street in Summerville. Her mother, Katie, was with relatives who were moving a home from Summerville to a site two miles from town when she went into labor. Katie gave birth to Marjorie inside the house while it was in the street.
“I don’t know why she (her mother) happened to be with the house, but it must have had the facilities needed (to help her give birth),” Jarvis said.
As a child, Jarvis attended multiple grade schools in the Grande Ronde Valley before enrolling in Imbler High School. She has fond memories of her childhood.
“It was a whole different world then,” she said.
Jarvis noted that Summerville had a much more bustling business community than it does today. Its businesses included a barbershop, a hotel, a brewery and a bank. Summerville also had a post office, where her father worked.
“He was a mail carrier for 39 years,” she said.
When her father first began delivering mail, Jarvis said, he used a horse and buggy and later a Model T Ford and finally a Model A Ford.
Jarvis graduated from Imbler High School in 1935 and then entered Eastern Oregon University, which was then named Eastern Oregon Normal School and had only two buildings, Inlow Hall and Ackerman Hall. Today the campus has more than a dozen buildings.
Places Jarvis frequented off-campus in La Grande included old Zuber Hall, which was downtown.
“It was a big dance hall,” she recalled. “They had band and jazz dances.”
Jarvis graduated from college in 1937 and was hired to teach at Pumpkin Ridge School, near Summerville, where she was responsible for more than teaching.
“I also swept the floor and hauled in firewood,” she said.
See complete story in Monday's Observer