By Dan Merritt, Advocate reporter
She still recalls vividly the days when night took over.
“It was terrible” says Margaret “Marg” Vavra of Colome who was speaking of the 1930s Depression era. The Dirty ’30s when giant windstorms of dust shut-out the light of the sun.
She ought to remember. She turned age 20 in 1935. She was married to Ben Vavra at age 27 in 1942.
Her first and only child arrived in 1955 when she was age 40.
His name is Marvin Vavra and he turns 60 this year. Marg Vavra is now 100.
That century mark in age is being celebrated Sat., April 18, at the American Legion building in Colome from 2 to 5 p.m. The general public is invited.
Though she said she would have been content with a card shower. But son Marvin and wife Debra of O’Neill, Neb. said there needed to be more, Marg Vavra reported.
“They said I’m the only one in my family on either said, my mother or my father, or my husband’s side — none others have ever reached 100!”
And so there will be celebration at the Legion in Colome. It will be a time for some “ice cream and cake with me,” Vavra explained.
She and husband Ben ran Vavra’s Store or Gambles in Colome for 50 years. In her lifetime in this area. she’s had contact with many, many people.
Hopefully on the 18th, there will be many on hand to take part in the celebration.
“I hope so,” Vavra said. “I would be happy if there are.”
She actually reached age 100 on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. But two of her favorite people weren’t available to attend a celebration with her until this month, Vavra said.
Grandson Mark Vavra now of California is scheduled to be back from Japan where he was part of a U.S. troupe of singers and dancers who were performing there.
And a niece, Karen Ripperda of Sioux Falls, was due back from Florida where she spends the winters with husband Daniel.
Also expected at Colome on the 18th is Mark’s sister, Lisa Vavra, another grandchild, Vavra stated.
Now a centenarian, Vavra was born before World War I. She married in the early years of World War II.
She was in her late 40s when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
She was almost age 60 when President Nixon resigned from office in 1974.
She had reached 86 when the Twin Towers were demolished in 2001. She was 93 when President Obama was first elected.
Though arthritic, Vavra said she maintains good health generally.
She lives on her own at her home in Colome. She still operates an automobile. She traveled to a funeral in Hamill on April 7 and had people amazed that she had driven there herself, she said.
“They thought I was only 90,” she added.
But they were wrong. She’s reached the triple digits in age.
How? “I just did it. I don’t know why,” she admitted. “I must of done something right. I don’t know what.”
The horrific dust/sand storms of the 1930s may have had something to do with it, she speculated.
“I think I got sand in my craw. The sand that I ate . . . kept me going,” she added.
“And hard work, I guess. That’s all I’ve done is work. I like to keep busy.”
Busy for the next five years, for sure, Vavra indicated.
“Now I’m going to try to be 105. I don’t know if I’ll make it or not. But I’m going to try it.
“You just got to keep pushing if you want to get anywhere. You can’t just sit down.”
She didn’t sit much when she and husband Ben ran Vavra’s Store (Gambles) from spring 1949 to fall 1998. Just a smidgen shy of 50 years.
“We had a lot, a lot of customers. I enjoyed it. They were nice people. All of them were nice.”
And they’re still around, too, one way or another, Vavra pointed out.
“Some of them are up on the hill. And some of them are still farmers. And some are in the nursing home.”
Gambles was already a going business when the Vavras bought it. They had been farming but Ben Vavra was asthmatic.
“He couldn’t be around the cattle and the hogs. So we sold-out and we come to town.”
Farming and Gambles weren’t Marg Vavra’s only work experiences.
“I taught school for a little while. I was a waitress. I worked out on the farms for people who needed help in their houses.
“I didn’t get very much when I first started. But then there was no money around. I was just glad to have a job.”
A job during an era of economic and environmental troubles.
Especially troubling were the scary dust storms which she experienced at her home four miles south of Colome, she said.
“I tell you, the windstorms were so bad it was just dark. Just like nighttime in the daytime.”