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Bob Lind, Published January 01 2013

Neighbors: Even 105-year-old Eva is critical of the Twins’ moves

Eva Charon plays cards (bridge, pinochle, cribbage) five days a week. She quilts and watches TV (the Game Show Network and Minnesota Twins games). She walks quite a bit, doesn’t have high blood pressure, and the only medication she takes is a heart pill every other day.

Not bad for a woman who is 105.

Charon lives alone in a Fargo apartment complex. Her husband, Arthur, died in 2004, just before their 75th wedding anniversary. She has three daughters, 10 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.

But she wishes she could curl again. After all, she played the game until she was 91. “Oh, to get down and do that again!” she says wistfully.

The former Eva VanderHeiden was born Nov. 13 in Edmore, N.D.

“Don’t ask me the time,” she said. “I don’t remember.”

Charon was the fifth of 11 children – 10 girls and one boy. All of them were born on the farm with the help of a midwife.

Like all farm kids, she learned about hard work. She milked the cows before going to school, and from an early age worked in the fields, drove machinery and helped with housework.

After she completed eighth grade in a rural one-room school, she did housework for neighbors until her parents moved to Devils Lake, N.D.

But, of course, there was a boy back at Edmore she couldn’t forget; one who came into her life almost accidentally.

The neighbor boy

At Edmore, the Charon family, including several boys, lived on a neighboring farm to the VanderHeidens.

Well, with all those VanderHeiden girls nearby, it was only natural the Charon boys took an interest in them.

One day, Art Charon and one of his brothers came over to the VanderHeidens and asked if they could take two of the girls to a barn dance. Art wanted to take Eva’s younger sister, Lena, but the girls’ mom nixed that, saying Lena was too young to go out but Eva could go. So Eva, 14 months older than Art, was his date that night, thus beginning a romance that led to their wedding in 1929.

They lived on farms at Edmore and at Lawton, N.D., raised Black Angus cattle and, best of all, their daughters.

The Charons had no electricity on their farms. They kept food cold by lowering it in a pail into a cistern.

One day, a neighbor came by with a petition asking for electricity in the area. An excited Eva signed it, then went right out and bought an electric stove. But it was another year before the electricity arrived.

In 1950, the Charons bought a house in Devils Lake and spent their winters there while a neighbor took care of their cattle. They retired in 1971.

Only one of Eva’s 10 siblings is still living. She’s Elsie Timboe, 97, of Everett, Wash.

Memories ...

Today, Eva sits back in her chair and thinks about the days on the farm when they had no running water and only the ever-popular outhouse. Their outhouse bench had a pail that resembled a toilet. One time a visitor used it, then told the Charons he couldn’t find the plunger.

Those were the days when you knew that when you talked to someone on the telephone party line, the neighbors would be listening in.

She began curling when she was age 60, when Art suggested they both try it. Even though she’s had to give it up, she’s proud that she got to throw out the first rock at the national mixed (men and women) curling playdown in Devils Lake in 1998.

She loves the Minnesota Twins, especially catcher Joe Mauer. But she is perturbed by the Twins’ management.

“Every time they get a good player they get rid of him,” she gripes.

She spends winters in Mesa, Ariz., where two of her daughters, Beverly Ummach and Shirley Grohs, live. There she attends patio parties and, for sure, plays cards.

She drove until she was 94, and she never had an accident.

Yes, this 105-year-old is doing fine, except for a couple of things: She misses curling, and she wishes the Twins would keep their good players.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com.

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