Twin Oaks resident takes 100th birthday in stride

Margaret Gable doesn’t have a lot to say as she sits surrounded by family members on a recent morning at the Twin Oaks Rehabilitation and Care facility in Sweet Home.

But when she does, it’s pithy.

But when you’re 100 years old, you know so much more than anyone else, why waste your breath?

Gable was born Dec. 22, 1909 on a farm five miles north of Bloomington, Neb., the youngest of eight chidren evenly divided between boys and girls.

She’s the last survivor of the family, though one of her sisters lived to be 97.

Margaret’s father, James Murphy, was well-to-do until the Great Depression hit, owning a bank, the grain elevator and a grocery store in Bloomington, said her youngest son, Bob Gable of Sweet Home. Murphy’s partner absconded with $20,000 and that ruined him.

“He lost everything,” Gable said.

Murphy spent the rest of his working years on his farm, growing corn and cane, Margaret and Bob Gable said.

Her mother died when she was a year and a half old, so Margaret grew up motherless and was forced to handle much of the household chores in growing up, family members said.

“Playing with her cat was her life,” Bob Gable said. “She slept with a big old dog.”

Margaret and her siblings harvested spuds in the winter and apples in the fall to make money, she said.

“It was hard work. I thought I was abused, but it was good for me.”

Margaret attended a rural school that was one room until her final year, when she was in the eighth grade.

“It was five miles to and from school,” she said. “We walked. Unless the snow got too deep. Then Dad took us on a horse.

“I made my own school clothes. We didn’t have much. Dad had money but he was keeping it.”

After completing the eighth grade, she quit to go to work. But she’s a good speller and she still loves to work crossword puzzles, family members said.

“That was back when they taught you something,” Bob Gable said.

Life wasn’t too exciting back then, Margaret noted.

“Pie socials €“ that was all the entertainment we had,” she said.

She went to work after quitting school and, not too long after, met Art Gable at a dance.

They were married in 1925 when she was 16.

Art was also a farmer, but he had other talents as well.

“Dad would play the fiddle and she’d play the piano for him,” Bob Gable said. “”He could hear something on the radio a couple of times and play it. I remember Dad when he was fiddling. His foot was always going.”

“He was a good dancer,” Margaret added.

They had five children, Margaret, Alvin, Thelma, CoraLee (“Tiny”) and Robert

In 1932 the Gables moved to Washington, where they settled in the Kittitas Valley, near Margaret’s sister and brother-in-law, who raised horses in partnership with Bing Crosby.

“It was a nice place,” Bob remembered.

The Gables lived in Ellensburg for a few years, then bought a farm outside Kittitas, where they lived until their house burned down in 1949 and they lost the farm.

Art worked then as a farmhand until he retired. He enjoyed horse team pulling contests at the Ellensburg rodeo.

Margaret ran the house and excelled in the kitchen, her relatives said. One of her specialties was “griffins,” a cinnamon twist pastry.

“She made really good pies,” said daughter-in-law Barbara Gable. “She used to bake all the time.

After 56 years of marriage, Art died in 1986.

“She really enjoyed ‘Pop,’ as she called him,” Bob said.

Margaret moved to Bend, where Bob worked for Burlington Northern as a roundhouse foreman, and in 1998 they moved to Sweet Home with her sister.

One of the reasons they chose Sweet Home was because of the size house they could get here for the money, said Barbara Gable, Margaret’s daughter-in-law.

At Twin Oaks Margaret enjoys visits from “anyone who comes.” In addition to her four children, she has 17 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great-grandchildren.

She said she hasn’t paid too much attention to why she has lived so long.

“Who knows? It’s God’s will,” she said, dryly. “I never gave it a thought. Age doesn’t mean much.”