Eat your vegetables. Don’t drink a lot. Don’t party a lot. And just live your life.
Those are the secrets to Edythe Swanson’s long life. The 99-year-old South Whidbey resident will turn 100 on Sept. 7.
“I never expected to live this long, that’s for sure,” Swanson said.
When she was young, living in Seattle, she and her family survived the Great Depression. Her father was a boilermaker for the railroad and her mother raised her and her five siblings. They had a 1925 Chevrolet to drive and no telephone.
“Dad would go to the bakery and bring home a gunny sack and he’d bring day-old bread and pastries for 50 cents. Nowadays you can’t buy anything for 50 cents,” Swanson said.
She’s seen a lot of changes in her lifetime, but what’s important to her has remained consistent: family.
“The most important things in my life are my kids,” she said. She raised three children, making and tailoring her children’s clothes herself.
“We had a rich upbringing with camping and traveling. She’s a very loving person and very generous. She has helped a lot of people along the way and that’s why she has so many friends,” Swanson’s daughter Joyce Swanson said. “She has a great sense of humor and a very dry wit.”
Swanson worked several jobs throughout the years, including keeping the house for a family and working as a dental assistant. She married in 1940 and again in 1951 after her first husband died. One hobby she kept up for years was her weekly Friday night visits to the Trianon Ballroom in Seattle, where she’d dance the night away with her friends. She danced from ages 16 to 50.
After moving to Clinton from Seattle in 2000, Swanson joined the Friendship Club and the Clinton Garden Club. Swanson is known for being an avid gardener, according to her daughter and her niece Cherylee Mircovich.
“She’s done so many different things in her life. For the most part, she’s been very creative and self-sufficient,” Mircovich said. “Everything she eats, she makes with her own two hands.”
Another hobby of Swanson’s is making dolls from scratch. Dozens of porcelain and cloth dolls line the shelves of her home in Clinton.
And her mother is often quicker than a calculator at computing mathmatical figures, Joyce Swanson said.
“I just lived a normal life,” Swanson said. “I have had a good life.”
The family is trying to collect 100 birthday cards for Swanson. Cards can be sent to P.O. Box 73 Langley 98260.