Santa Paula Times

Thelma MacFaden celebrates her 100th birthday just relaxing. Thelma was born January 19, 1907 in Saugus, Massachusetts. Photo by Susan Branham

Thelma MacFaden celebrates 100th birthday

January 31, 2007
Santa Paula News
By Susan Branham Santa Paula TimesA few days ago, Thelma Neal MacFaden spent her 100th birthday in the happy company of love, fun, and memories. Family, friends and neighbors joined her for the celebration, and were treated to the wit and wisdom only years can bring. A strong intellect, sense of values and love have held her in good stead for a lifetime.“She is remarkable,” her daughter Thelma Garcia said. “She has iron discipline. She’s the most self-disciplined woman I’ve ever known.”Thelma MacFaden was born in Saugus, Massachusetts on January 19, 1907. “I’ve just lived my life,” she said. “I never smoked or drank, and I worked all day.” She went to work as a secretary in an attorney’s office while just a junior in high school. “She had a small career with gold leaf work at Harvard College,” said her daughter. The books at the Harvard library bore a gold leaf finish.“I gave that up when I married to take care of my home. You don’t have to be rich to live and eat and have a home,” said Ms. MacFaden. “My mother had four children. Every time she made a meal, she made enough for us with some left over, in case someone came to the door. In those days a lot of people didn’t have jobs. If they came to the door, they were never, never turned down.”She remembers the doctor coming to the house. “The doctor would come in a buggy with the team, and tie them up to a tree.” The doctor was invited to join the family for their meal, which often included her mother’s blueberry cake. The junk man was also welcome at their table. “No one was refused,” Thelma said. “I was brought up that way.”
She has transitioned from the days of the horse and buggy to the jet age. “Horses, trains, cars, busses and jets: she never hesitated to jump on any of them,” said her daughter. The bus ride from her home in Saugus to Boston took 20 minutes when she was growing up. “It was a ten-cent fare in those days,” she added.These days, she remembers her mother singing songs from the Civil War era, and recites poetry from her own school days. “I think she remembers everything she learned in school,” Ms. Garcia said.Transportation is not the only thing that has changed. So has politics. “Politicians are not what they used to be,” Thelma MacFaden said. “I don’t think she’s ever missed voting in an election,” added her daughter.A special birthday gift was presented to her, a unique pillow embroidered with the number 100 in different colors and initialed by each person who did the work. “She belongs to the Embroidery Guild of America,” Thelma Garcia remarked. The pillow is a gift from the Guild.Thelma MacFaden has memories of her seven-year-old granddaughter saving a dollar each week to buy her a special gift. She still wears that bracelet today. Her granddaughter, Connie MacFaden, now grown and living in Nashville, joined her to help her celebrate her 100th birthday.Thelma MacFaden left her guests with some parting wisdom, “Live your life the way it should be lived. Take care of yourself.”