The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

100-year-old remembers sometimes challenging life mostly with appreciation

 

May 10, 2016

A 2011 PHOTO at East Linn Museum shows Lucille Rapp, center, with her daughter Charlotte Graham, left, and museum directors Glenda Hopkins, rear left, and Gail Gregory, right, when Rapp was still able to volunteer at the facility.

Lucille Rapp really isn’t sure why she’s lived to celebrate a century, but she’s delighted to be there.

“I always hoped I’d live to 100,” she said, sitting in her home, where she still lives very independently – though she has acquiesced on using a walker. “I think I’m the only one in my family to live to be exactly 100, though some were pretty close.”

Rapp was born May 9, 1916 in Buzzard Station, near Crabtree, “almost to the river.” She had one sister, Eveline, and a half-brother and half-sister, all younger than she was.

Her father had arrived in Oregon from Missouri when he was 17 and worked as a farmer and in mills.

“I went probably to a different school every year,” said Rapp, whose recall and mental acuity haven’t declined significantly – or her matter-of-fact approach to life.

“Mill City, Spicer, Richland, Providence... – we moved where my dad’s job was.”

She graduated from eighth grade at Halsey School and that was it for education.

“My dad didn’t think he could afford to send us to high school,” Rapp said. “He thought girls didn’t need high school because when we got a family, we wouldn’t use education.”

She said she’s spent most of her adult life as a housekeeper and providing in-home care, which she enjoyed – particularly working with children.

“I’ve been on my own since I was 18,” she said. Fresh out of the house, she got a job doing housework for a family with four children and taking care of the mother, who’d just had surgery.

“They were on county relief,” she said. “I got paid $8 a month.”

That job led to others, and, she said, gave her a new perspective.

“I hated to go into the stores because I didn’t want people to think I was on welfare. That’s why I’m interested in SHEM. I know what it’s like.”

Her wages increased – slightly – over the next several years as more such jobs came her way. Her last was her best, Rapp said – “I got paid $15 a month. I thought I was rich.”

She attended Holley Christian Church, where she met Lloyd Rapp and his brother Floyd, who were in the congregation. But it wasn’t quite that simple.

“Back then, things were different than they are now. The men sat on one side of the room and the women sat on the opposite side. They just didn’t mix.”

She said she’d attended the church about six months when she learned that Floyd Rapp needed an algebra book.

“I said, ‘I have one,’ and Lloyd came to pick it up. It was the first time I’d seen him or spoke a word to him.”

Things progressed and they married in October of 1939, settling in a house they built on Lloyd’s property located just south of Holley on Highway 228. Floyd, who never married, lived next door.

Lloyd worked their little farm and in the woods. They had two children, Charlotte and Wesley, both of whom live in the area.

Lloyd eventually injured himself during a logging competition at Sportsman’s Holiday, she said, and suffered a heart attack at 58.

“He overdid it.”

Those years were tough, she recalls. At the time, she worked swing shift at a nursing home in Lebanon, where she was for seven years.

“I’d come home and Lloyd would be walking the floor in pain. I’d take him to the hospital in Lebanon and then come home and try to get a few hours of sleep before going back to work.

“I just couldn’t do it.”

They moved in 1987 from the farm to a home in town, where Rapp lives now. Lloyd died in 1992.

“I took care of him. He did not want to go to a nursing home, so I said I’d care for him as long as I could. I cared for him to the end.

“I wanted to study to be a nurse. I never did get to. Working at the nursing home for seven years, I learned a lot there. I read the doctor book.”

Professionally, she also worked for two years with disabled clients at Sunshine Industries.

“They didn’t figure I had an education, but I was doing real well,” she said, bluntly.

But despite those disappointments, she’s doesn’t appear to have a lot of regrets.

“I enjoyed everything I have done,” Rapp said. “I enjoy helping people. I can’t get around any more, but I would if I could. I lot of people have gone to nursing homes. If I could have taken care of them, I would have.”

More recently, until she began to slow down in the last few years, she’s been involved as a volunteer and board member at East Linn Museum. She also has enjoyed crocheting and embroidery – and gardening. She and Lloyd had a greenhouse, where they raised plants commercially for 15 years.

“We had tomatoes in big cans. We raised them on contracts. Even when I got crippled up, I raised plants and gave them to people. They gave me garden stuff in return.”

She also enjoys watching wild birds, though she said a local cat has curtailed their visits to her feeders.

So why has she lived 100 years?

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t go to doctors. The less time you go to the doctor, the better off you are. They’ll find something wrong with you and give you medicine you don’t need.”

She seems to think that may be a reason for her longevity.

“I don’t take medicine, other than vitamins for my eyes – to keep from losing them entirely.

UCILLE RAPP displays a locket containing photos of her and her husband, Lloyd.

“I don’t drink anything but water. I don’t like milk and I don’t drink pop. I think that’s bad for people’s stomachs.

“I used to drink coffee, but 10 years ago or less, I got up one morning and said, ‘I don’t think I want to drink coffee this morning.’ So I quit.”

She’s just trying to figure out what to do with this centenarian stuff.

“Now I’m 100 at last. I didn’t really make any arrangements for this. I guess I’ll keep going.”

 
 

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