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- Daily Chronicle : DeKalb County Life
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Never too old to keep enjoying life
By Barry Schrader.................................February
Hazel Swanberg turns 106 next Tuesday and has lots of memories
to share, plus some advice on how you can enjoy being that age.
I make up my mind each morning that it is going to be a
happy day and something good is going to happen. I dont
look at the dark side I try to make everybody happy and
have a compliment for those around me in the health center,
says Hazel who has been at the Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement
Center since the first year it opened.
angel, Karen Buck from Sycamore, who has visited her every
Thursday for the past 18 years, concurs that she is a cheerful
person and an easy lady to like. Karen relates a
story Hazel told from back about 1920 when Hazel began teaching
in country school after a year at the Northern Illinois State
Normal School. Hazels father Ward Landers would heat
up bricks in the cookstove and wrap them in a blanket before
they hitched up her one-horse buggy so she could head off to
country school with a foot warmer on those cold winter mornings.
She had 18 kids ranging from first through eighth grade and could
teach them every subject.
Hazel Swanberg sits in her apartment at the health center
of Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center in DeKalb, showing
off the milk can with a painting depicting her late husband and
his favorite horse, the last reminder of her farm life near Lily
Lake. (Photo by Barry Schrader - Daily Chronicle )
Hazel was born 03-03-1903 on the family dairy farm, but her father
also held a job during the school year as a teacher and then
principal in Hinckley. He had married one of his older students
named Ida who was about eight years his junior. Hazel recalls
he was very well read and loved to relax by doing dramatic readings.
Thats probably where she got her talent and took part in
skits for many years at Oak Crest. In fact Karen first met her
by designing a costume for her in a production called Hard-Hearted
She met her future husband Everett at a community club social
when he was high bidder on her picnic basket of goodies, which
meant they got to eat together. He ran the family dairy farm
near Lily Lake and she moved there to become a dairymans
wife. But she kept up her teaching at schools in Lily Lake, Elburn
and Plato Center for more than 30 years. Even after she retired
to Oak Crest, she was asked to tutor children in DeKalb, which
she did. After teaching a full day, she returned to the 100-head
dairy farm and had to fix meals for the two hired men and her
family. She said she always had a big vegetable garden, apple
and pear trees, so canning was a part of the annual ritual, putting
up foodstuffs for the winter.
Talking about what she enjoys doing today, she said chatting
with other residents, maintaining a daily exercise regimen by
walking through the halls and watching television to occupy her
time. She remarked that she spent the entire day on January 20th
watching President Barack Obamas inauguration. I
think he is going to be a wonderful president. He has the brains
Looking around her room I spotted a decorated milk can and found
out it is the only remaining artifact from home that she has
kept all this time. That milk can, she explained, was one of
many her husband shipped to Chicago each day. She had someone
paint a picture of her husband and his favorite blue roan as
a memory of their days on the farm.
She doesnt want any fuss made over her birthday as there
was a party last year in her honor, but mentioned she does like
chocolate. And if you happen to have a spare birthday card around
the house I am sure Hazel would be delighted to receive a few.
Her address is 2944 Greenwood Acres Drive, DeKalb 60115
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115