McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 2, 2013

Local woman turns 100 Sunday

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Lorene Browder Barlow reached her own personal milestone this weekend, turning 100 years old Sunday.

Born Nov. 3, 1913, in Indianola, she has lived most of her life in Indianola or McAlester, except for approximately four years she spent in California.

While family and friends held a special celebration in her honor at the community center in Crowder on Saturday, Barlow spoke with the News-Capital prior to her big event.

How does she feel about hitting the century mark? Hey, she’s anxious to get started on the next one.

“I’m ready to turn 100 and start anew,” Barlow said.

When she was a little girl, did she ever think about living to be 100?

“Oh no,” she said. “I used to think 50 was old.”

Barlow is still relatively independent, living at the home she and her daughter, Marie Barlow, share in Indianola, the place she’s always considered as home.

When growing up in Indianola, Barlow preferred to work outside in the fields with her father, instead of inside the home with her mother.

“I think that’s the reason I still don’t know how to cook,” she joked.

Outside, she felt ready to tackle any task that would help her dad.

“I picked cotton and pulled peanuts — and anything else to do with the fields,” Barlow said. When the cotton sacks got too heavy for her to pull along beside her, “I had to empty them and start all over,” she said.

Asked about the most impressive inventions she’s seen on her lifetime, Barlow mentioned something most people take for granted these days — but something that many rural homes were without when she was a child.

“Electricity was one thing,” she said.

Her favorite outdoor activities when growing up included horseback riding.

“I was more or less a tomboy,” she said with a chuckle. “I didn’t like housework.

“I would go outside, catch a horse and get throwed.” That didn’t stop her from climbing right back on, though.

By the time she turned 19, she’d lost any tomboy looks she might have had as a youngster and she attracted the eye of W.A. “Nub” Barlow.

Following a courtship largely conducted on horseback, the couple was married on Nov. 22, 1932.

The couple achieved quite a reputation as outstanding dancers when friends would gather together to play music, according to the family.

During the big band era, they became proficient at the well-known swing dance, the Jitterbug.

While Lorene Barlow liked the big band music, she also tuned their radio in to the Grand Ole Opry to hear one of her favorites, bluegrass legend Bill Monroe.

While she and her husband spent most of their lives in Indianola, they did live in California for four  years while “Nub” Barlow helped manage an orchard and vineyard. However, the allure of the Sooner State proved too strong and they ultimately made the move back to Oklahoma.

When “Nub” Barlow died in 1982, it was approximately six months short of the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Lorene Barlow obviously has seen a lot of history in her life. Who did she consider her favorite U.S. president?

She gave the question some thought, before settling on an answer.

“I think John F. Kennedy was good,” she said.

She’s not been deeply into politics, though. She cast her very first vote in a presidential election in 2012, at the age of 99, according to her daughter.

Asked to recall something about her childhood, Barlow remembered a bit of clothing she didn’t like.

“My mother made us wear long underwear to school,” she said, recalling the black, woolen garments her mother favored.

“The other girls didn’t have them on,” she recalled.

Barlow solved the problem in a time-honored fashion of youngsters everywhere. She simply wore the garments to school; changed out of them once she arrived, then put them back on before starting home.

For her 100th birthday celebration, the family expected — fittingly — approximately 100 guests, with some of the out-of-town guests traveling to the area from as far away as Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

Lorene and “Nub” Barlow’s three children hosted the event, with Marie Barlow getting an assist from her brother, Bill Barlow and his wife, Betty, and from her sister, Myrna Barlow Scott, and her husband, Richard.

In addition to her three children, Lorene Barlow has six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren.

Why did she and her husband decide to move back to Oklahoma, returning to Indianola after spending a few years in California?

Barlow had a quick answer, direct and to the point.

“It’s home,” she said.

Does she have any idea why she’s lived to be 100?

“The Lord just loved me and smiled on me,” she said.

“I wake up and ask the Lord to bless me one day at a time — and I look forward to the next day.”

Contact James Beaty at