It was the year Times Square was named and the United States gained control of the Panama Canal.
It was the year Teddy Roosevelt became president and Ivan Pavlov received the Nobel Prize.
It was also the year long-time Kiowa resident Blanche Ray was born. She turned 101 Oct. 11. Family and friends from all over Oklahoma gathered at Ray’s home on Sunday to celebrate her legacy
“After 101 years I still have all of my memories,” Ray said. “I’ve had a nice birthday.”
Ray was born near Western Grove, Ark., and moved to southeastern Oklahoma in 1916. She married her husband Richard in 1920, and later had three children.
Ray worked with her husband as a sharecropper until 1937.
The farm was on the “big prairie” that eventually became part of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, according to Ray.
“I was a farm woman. We raised cotton and corn,” Ray said. “You have to really work the farm, and I did everything I could.”
Ray said times were a lot tougher then. She recalled some of the hardships from early farm life.
“There was no electricity, no water, no gas or anything,” Ray said. “We didn’t have any of that until we moved into town.”
Ray said by 1937, it was time to leave the farm and move to Kiowa.
“My kids were all in high school and it was just time to move off of the farm,” Ray said.
Her husband began working for Pittsburg County as an equipment operator. The family lived in Kiowa until leaving for Dennison, Texas in 1941.
“We went down to Dennison because my son and husband went to work on the dam,” Ray said.
But they wouldn’t stay long. After the completion of the Texoma Dam, it was time for another move. The Great Depression was on and jobs were scarce. The family loaded up and headed for Huntington Park, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles.
“It was during the Great Depression and there were jobs opening up just after the war started,” Ray said. “Everyone was going out there for jobs then.”
Ray has fond memories of her time in California. She said she’ll never forget the first time she saw the Pacific Ocean.
“The ocean was a mysterious site to me,” Ray said. “You could see ships coming in from way out just like they were climbing a hill.”
The family remained in Huntington Park until 1950, when they decided it was time to move back to Kiowa.
“My son wanted to go back to Oklahoma before he went into the service,” Ray said. “My husband also had a heart attack, and his doctor recommended he get out of the smog.”
She’s been in Kiowa ever since. She still has two children; Gladys, 81 and J.B. who is 83. She also has 12 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and 30 great-great-grandchildren.
“There are five living generations under me,” Ray said proudly.
Her family sat at her party discussing just how amazed they were with Ray.
“She just canned her own tomatoes this past summer,” Ray’s granddaughter Cynthia Schooley, of Claremore, said. “How many 101 year-olds do you know that still can vegetables.”
Her son J.B. recently moved in with Ray. He said it’s great to be 83 and still have his mother to take care of him.
“The only difference is she doesn’t have to change my diapers,” J.B. Ray said. “She still cooks all our meals.”
Ray even cooked a 20 pound ham for her own birthday party.
Ray said at 101 life couldn’t be better. She’s proud to have so much family, and thankful to be healthy.
“I’m still clear up here,” Ray said, pointing to her head. “I can still do my work, and get around and converse with everybody.
“I just keep on going.”