Many changes, challenges over past 100 years

Hilda Lowrie, still going strong after 100 years. Photo by Phil Custodio

Clarkston News Editor
As a young girl, Hilda Lowrie of Independence Township remembers her parents’ concern with the new, 20th century technology.
“Airplanes were just coming into existence and they were scared to death. They said, ‘I will never fly,’” said Lowrie, who is turning 100 years young in October. “That’s the way I am now for these driverless cars. I’m saying, I’ll never ride in them. Not as long as I have a friend as my taxi.”
She remembers when computers were new to the workplace when she retired from Clarkston Community Schools in 1984. Now?
“I don’t even have a computer. I don’t know anything about them,” she said. “When you live 100 years, there are a lot of changes. It just amazes me now what you can get on your phones. It just blows my mind. They’re working on something new all the time.”
Born a Barnett in 1918, she lived in Milford and Almont in a family of nine children before tragedy brought her to Independence Township.
Her parents were killed in a car crash in 1932, when she was 14 years old.
“I was the oldest one in the backseat. Oh, my goodness. And I was the only one who didn’t even get hurt,” she remembered. “There wasn’t as much traffic as there is now. But there was a man coming down Dixie from Saginaw, and we were crossing and he broadsided us.”
She went to live with an older sister, Mary, in Independence Township, and has lived here ever since.
She graduated from Clarkston High School in 1937, with 32 in her class. Her high school building is still in use as Renaissance High School and Community Education.
“It wasn’t like the modern ones are now, but it was a nice school. It was not too old as I remember it,” she said. “Clarkston was just a little town with old-fashioned meat markets and Walter’s dry goods store (at 5 S. Main Street, now home of The Clarkston News).
She remembers when Tink Ronk was too young to own his barbershop or become fire chief, and when the post office was on Main Street.
“There were a lot of people walking around. High school kids, none of them were driving cars at that time. Nobody had a car, you know,” she said. “It was a quiet town. Everybody knew each other.”
Morals seem different nowadays, she said.
“We always worked hard and were honest,” she said. “But now, of course, you can’t keep your door unlocked. My doors are locked back and front all the time. It’s too bad. You can’t trust the good people now. It’s a shame because I like to trust people and I do, but you’re always on your guard.”
She married Keith Lowrie soon after graduating high school, and they ran Lowrie’s Dairy just north of the Village of Clarkston.
“I don’t even know what we did on our first date. Probably just talked. Nobody had any money then, even when we were married. I think he had $5 in his pocket when we got married,” Hilda said. “Now, when you get married, you want to start where we’re ending up. They want a house with all the furnishings, and more power to them.”
Keith passed away in 1968. Hilda never remarried.
“March 1 of this year, it’s been 50 years since he’s been gone,” she said.
That year, she went to work for the Clarkston school district as a secretary at the former South Sashabaw Elementary School, and worked there 17 and a half years, retiring in 1984.
“It doesn’t seem possible,” she said.
She stays busy gardening and does her own house work and cooking in the home Keith had built for them 79 years ago.
“Originally this was a log cabin,” she said. “My brother in law owned all of this land through here (William Clement). He was the one who built the house for us.”
Over the years, they covered the logs with plaster because the varnish was getting dark, and had siding placed on the outside.
“I don’t even remember what year that was,” she said.
She drove until she was 96 years old.
“That was the hardest thing to give up,” she said. “If you’re cooking and run out of baking powder, well, jump in the car and get it. Now, you have to plan ahead. And I’ve kind of learned to do that.”
She and Keith had a daughter, Ann, who passed away in 2010. She has two grandsons, three great grandsons, and one great, great grandson, who recently turned 3 years old.
She attributes her long life to staying active.
“I’m blessed with good health – I’m blessed physically and mentally,” she said. “No health food, just a regular diet. Everything in moderation.”
“She loves everything,” said her friend Mary Jo Willits. “She’s still cooks for herself, and makes, oh, so good stuff.”
Advice to people today – “don’t sit down and do nothing. Get up and do something,” Hilda said. “Live a quiet life, I guess. Do the right thing.”
Live a good life and be as happy as you can, she said.
“Be strong and face whatever you have to. That’s the best way to look at it,” she said. “It’s not always good days. There are bumps in the road, but everybody has to go through them.”
Her favorite memories are mostly family reunions and get-togethers over the years.
“We all stuck together that way,” Hilda said.
The family is planning a birthday party for her at Shepherd’s Hollow, which was originally a farm owned by her father in law.
“I’m hanging in there until then,” she said.