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Jay County Newspaper Articles


Clipping from The Muncie Star, Thursday, November 19, 1970

Celebrates 95th Birthday
Smile Belie Age of Redkey Woman

Redkey - "Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been," said Mark Twain.  The ready smiles and infectious laugh of 95-year-old Mrs. Bertha Reynolds so belies her age - there is the thought it must have been smiles that caused the wrinkles, not age.

Mrs. Reynolds, the former Bertha Hoppes, until about one year ago had lived her entire lifetime in the Redkey community.  She is now a resident of the Golden Rule Nursing Home at Gaston.  She was born Nov. 19, 1987, on a farm one mile east of Redkey, where she lived until her marriage to Milt Reynolds, who died in 1934.  The second youngest child in a family of eight, Mrs. Reynolds is the last surviving member of the Elijah Hoppes children.  Bertha attended school at Hoppes School No. 4, located near her birthplace.

During World War I days, Bertha and her husband owned and operated the Redkey sawmill, located at the same site where it is today.  She recalls the carloads of aeroplane propellers shipped from the Redkey mill during war days.  The propellers, made for the government, were in the rough when they left the Reynolds' mill.

After the close of the war, the mill manufactured tomato crates and wooden linens for washing machines, such as the old Rock-Away washers.  During these busy days, Bertha not only took care of a large home and two small daughters, she worked in the office of the sawmill.

The office work and collection end of the sawmill business where only two of several business ventures she was to be associated with through the years.  She was in the insurance and real estate business for several years, operated a restaurant for six years and converted her home into a rooming house, which she maintained for nearly 50 years, before retiring five years ago.

The 90th year for the Redkey woman not only marked the close of her business activities, she also gave up driving an automobile.  She says she really missed driving since she had operated cars for at least 55 years.  During this span she owned 13 new cars and vividly recalls the first car she and her husband owned.  This car was an Oakland, one of two in the Redkey community.  Bertha never drove the Oakland.  She says, "It was too big.  I was afraid of it."  Her last car, a 1940 Buick, she gave to her great grandsons, Steve and Jeff Miller of here, and the boys drive the car when home from college on vacations.

The happenings one night in her rooming house still make the Redkey woman shudder.  Two men had rented a room, then the next day another fellow, accompanied by a bulldog, came in her back door and started up the stairs.  She asked him, "Where do you think you are going?"  He replied, "Those fellows up there have slept all night and I haven't slept for three days, so I am going up to bed" - at the same time he handed her a $10 bill.  She then told him he couldn't take the dog upstairs, and he informed her he was taking the dog.  He also forbid her to touch his suitcase, saying, "I will take care of it myself."

Mrs. Reynolds became suspicious and called the town marshall.  The marshall assured her he would "keep an eye on her house" that night.  However, the next morning the three fellows and dog were gone - neither Mrs. Reynolds or the marshall knew when they left.

She coments, "I was really scared when I picked up the morning paper and there were the pictures of my roomers, members of the John Dillinger gang and wanted for the murder of a marshal during a bank hold-up in  a nearby town."  She adds, "I was afraid those fellows would come back, but they never did."  One thing Mrs. Reynolds never learned about "her roomers" was whether the suitcase the one fellow "forbid her to touch" was filled with money obtained in the holdup.

Mrs. Reynolds has been a member of the Methodist Church since she was 11 years old.  She also belonged to the Pythian Sisters when the lodge existed in Redkey.

To this lively 95-year-old, every day presents another opportunity to enjoy "being alive and in good health."  At Halloween she enlivened the party at the Golden Rule Home by donning a witch's costume and greeting members of a Brownie Troop at the entrance.  She is still chuckling over the thrill she gave the Brownies when they shook hands with her and encountered an ice-cold rubber glove.

Mrs. Reynolds has one daughter, Mrs. Mary May (Paul) Miller of Fort Wayne, deceased.  The other daughter, Mrs. Garnet (Walter) Scheiman, resides in Muncie.  There are four grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and she is looking forward to the birth of her first great-great grandchild in January.

Mrs. Scheiman held a luncheon in honor of her mother Wednesday at the Scheiman home.


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