Edna Wrenn's advice to reach 100: `Live right... take care of yourself'


September 01, 1999|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EDNA WRENN has seen enormous changes in her lifetime. Born in Washington on Aug. 28, 1899, she has lived through two world wars and the Great Depression and has witnessed, on television, man's first walk on the moon.

Mrs. Wrenn celebrated her 100th birthday last week at Harmony Hall Retirement Community in Hickory Ridge.

"I had four birthday parties," she said. "It lasted all week. I had so many friends and relatives there. It was wonderful."

On Friday, a representative from the county executive's office attended a party held in her honor and presented her with a proclamation declaring Saturday to be Edna Wrenn Day in Howard County.

Mrs. Wrenn has fond memories of growing up as one of nine surviving children born to Ann Elizabeth and Charles Henry Reintzel.

"We were brought up with wonderful parents," she said. "My mother and father were very close with us children. They taught us how to behave and how to take care of ourselves."

She said apples, grapes, corn and tomatoes were grown on the family's property in Washington.

"Mother would can the food we grew and make it last through the winter," she said. "We worked so hard in those days."

That was before most homes had indoor plumbing or electricity.

"There's a lot of changes, things we used to do in the old days that they don't even know about today," Mrs. Wrenn said. She remembers bathing in a big tin tub in the kitchen near the coal stove. Clothes were scrubbed on washboards, rinsed in large iron tubs and hung on clotheslines crisscrossing the yard.

"Life is much easier now," she said. "Back then, it was hard work. We didn't have vacuum cleaners. You'd take up the rugs and put them on the line in the yard and beat them to get the dust and dirt out of them until they were clean."

She married Ernest Wrenn in 1920.

"He was a great man," she said, "very good-hearted and very kind. He was one of the best husbands on Earth."

The Wrenns were married for 72 years. Mr. Wrenn died in 1992 at 96.

They had one child, Ernest Wrenn Jr., 78, who lives in Annapolis with his wife, Dorothy.

Mrs. Wrenn said the secret to a long marriage is, "Don't argue. Try to straighten it out, and don't go to bed mad."

It's important to "be kind to each other," she added.

Mrs. Wrenn was born before computers, television and radios. But of all the inventions she has seen in her lifetime, she said she has enjoyed television the most.

"But I was excited about most everything when it first came out," she said.

She recalled the time her brother tried to build a radio out of an oatmeal box. "He got it all together and one day some music came on it," she said. "We were so excited, but it turns out it was a church bell from up the street. He never did get that radio to work."

She remembers watching the historic flight of Apollo 11 in 1969. The spacecraft carried astronauts Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins to the first walk on the moon.

"I thought that was something," Mrs. Wrenn said. "It gave me the creeps just to think that those men went up in a rocket."

Except for arthritis, she has enjoyed good health all her life. "I never thought I'd live to see 100," she said.

Her advice for those who want to follow in her footsteps: "Live right, don't smoke, don't drink and take care of yourself."

She was quick to add, however: "I can't give anybody any tips. I don't know how I made it myself."

She is sure of one thing -- the secret to enjoying a long life is family.

"That's what's kept me going," she said. "If it wasn't for my wonderful family, I don't think I would have lasted to be 100 years old. They've made me very happy."

Hospital auxiliary officers

Howard County General Hospital's Volunteer Auxiliary has elected new officers.

Joan Henry is president; Sherry Halager is vice president; Virginia Adams is secretary; and Lee Hess is treasurer.

Henry, of Beaverbrook, joined the group three years ago because "I wanted to give something back to the community."

"Our volunteers work in the gift shop, physical therapy, the medical library, information desk -- they're all over the hospital," she said.

The auxiliary is planning a gold sale with discounted prices on 14-karat gold jewelry Sept. 16 and 17 in the hospital lobby.

Auxiliary volunteers donated more than 30,000 hours of service to the hospital last year.

Information: 410-740-7980.

`The Haptic Traveler'

Photographs by Paul Marycz are featured this month at Artists' Gallery in an exhibition titled "The Haptic Traveler."

Marycz and his wife, Sue, have traveled to Australia, Hawaii, the Bahamas and the American Southwest in search of pictures.

"Haptic" refers to the sense of touch or impressions of objects, but photographers used the term, Marycz said, to refer to abstract or distorted images.

In his photographs, he captures the expressive nature of an object or uses photographic techniques to create effects.

A reception will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 17.

Artists' Gallery is in the American City building, 10227 Wincopin Circle, Columbia.

Information: 410-740-8249.

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