It’s not every day you get to celebrate someone turning 100 years old.
Yet that’s just what friends and family got to do for longtime South Cariboo resident Helen Horn on Friday, Sept. 1. Dozens of people came out to the Interlakes Community Centre to wish the newly minted Centenarian their best.
Horn was all smiles as she entered the hall and was swarmed by people wanting to snap a photo and catch up. She remarked she was so happy to see everyone get together to spend time with her.
“Doing this for me was amazing. I don’t know why the Good Lord or the Other Man don’t want me but they’ve decided to leave me here for a while,” Horn remarked. “As long as I’m here, I’m well cared for and happy.”
One of her friends in attendance was Joanne Levick, who first met Horn back in the early 1960s. Both Levick’s husband Walter and Helen’s late husband Chris knew each other from growing up in the area, and were both descendants of some of the original European settlers of the South Cariboo.
“We stopped at her place, and in those days people always had the coffee on a wood stove, because that’s what we had. She was friendly and didn’t hesitate to engage in any conversation,” Levick recalled with a smile. “I always thought it would be nice to live next door to her. She’d make a damn good neighbour to be close to.”
Afterwards the two kept in touch, socializing at various community dances held at the Lone Butte Community Hall and the Roe Lake Hall, where the Interlakes Community Centre now stands. Levick said Horn was a “tough old lady” who chopped her own firewood, washed clothes by hand, and took care of her home on her own.
“She’d laugh at being called a tough old lady. She started out as a tough young lady and then time happened,” Levick laughed.
Cliff Thorsteinson, one of Horn’s nephews, agreed. He recalled how he and his brothers used to visit her on her ranch to help her hay.
“I have lots of fond memories of hay itching and falling on my back because I threw it over my head,” Thorsteinson, 67, said. “Helen was great. I could always rely on going over and having a great family get-together and meal.”
Thorsteinson said his aunt is healthy, even at 100, and he hopes that he can do half as well as her as he gets older. He attributes her success to good living, staying active and staying social.
“She may have outlived a lot of her own age group, but the sons and daughters of those who knew her are happy to come and have a quick visit,” Thorsteinson said. “I hope she does the story of her life like my grandmother did, that was recorded for the Cariboo Pioneer Society.”
Horn’s party was organized by her caretaker, Anne Marie Schroevers, and her son Gus Horn. Schroevers is friends with Gus and helps him look after his mother, cooking her meals and taking her out for drives.
“It’s pretty amazing to see her turn 100. I came into her house (Friday) morning to find her just sitting in her chair and I said ‘Happy Birthday’ and she was like ‘I made it!’” Schroevers recalled.
Levick was thrilled to celebrate Horn’s birthday with her. Thirteen years her junior at 87, she said it’s amazing Horn has made it to such a milestone.
“I wrote in my card she can look back with a great deal of satisfaction knowing full well that she had a good life here. She’s left wonderful memories for so many of us old-timers.”
Time goes by fast, Horn said, but she still finds it amazing she made it to 100. She’s watched a lot of things change over the years, both locally and on the world stage. Her advice to people is simple: be kind.
“Be kind to everybody. Everyone has taken care of me so well, I can’t believe it, I really can’t. Thank you to everyone who came to my party.”