A good life for 101 year old woman
In 1911, Calbraith Perry Rodgers made the first transcontinental flight across the United States. He flew the Wright Brothers “Vin Fiz” EX biplane from Sheepshead Bay N.Y. to Long Beach, CA. The trip took 84 days and stopped or crashed 70 times. Also, William Howard Taft was president, the Philadelphia Athletics won the world series 4-2 over the New York Giants and although, there were not a lot of them, the average cost of a car was $780.
But, right here in Southeast Texas on October 31, Virgie Scales was born. She grew up in the Orangefield/Bridge City area.
As a child, she was often with her grandparents who operated the Mansfield Ferry. According to Scales, the ride across the ferry costs 50 cents. She grew up learning to love hard work whether it was on a farm or interacting with adults since she didn’t have playmates of her won age to play with.
She also fondly remembers driving the family Pontiac at age 8 up and down Mansfield Ferry Road. She would prop herself up to reach the pedals for her drive on the roadway. She didn’t drive far, but only to the end of the road near the cemetery. If there was not a funeral, she drove through the cemetery before turning around to drive back to her house.
‘A driver’s license was not a big deal then,” she said.
Throughout her life education was always important. She started school at the age of four year old. She memorized the alphabet forward and backwards. During her school days she developed and honed her skills which would later help her in professional life.
When Scales was 15 years old, she met the “love of her life.” Grover Allen Scales was 19 years old and worked on the ferry. They dated for about a year before they married on March 19, 1928 at the home of their pastor in Orangefield.
“He was a good man,” she added.
The newlywed worked at the Post Office in Orangefield until the birth of her first child in 1931. During this time, she had two sons and three daughters. But, sadly, over the years, three of her children have not outlived their mother.
The couple purchased a dairy and with the help of their children ran the dairy. After they sold the dairy, they bought hay-baling equipment and range cattle.
In 1950, she worked as a newspaper reporter for a local paper. While a reporter she earned recognition and was Reporter of the Year. She wrote on various topics such as wedding announcements, obituaries and stories about community events. She also wrote feature stories. After she typed them up, she took them to the paper to be printed.
She loved being a reporter and the chance to meet people. She continued to work as a reporter for 39 years.
“When Mr. Quigley sold the paper, I decided to retire,” Scales said.
Other home duties including gardening, mowing her yard, sewing and cooking were always a part of her life too. But, not all her time was devoted to reporting or family duties. She also loved to travel.
When her husband became ill, she devoted more time to his needs. Before a massive heart attack claimed his life, his last words to her were,” I love you.”
Following his death, she was appointed to fulfill his term on the Orange County Drainage Board which made her the first woman ever to be on the board.
Over the years, she has seen many changes in the area, but says there are just too many to describe.
Scales said the secret to a successful life, is “work, work, work.”
During her retirement years, Scales was involved in various senior citizen’s groups. As a member of the Orange County Old Timer’s Association, she received the Loyal and Unselfish Service Award in 1998 and from the Texas Senion Citizen Extension Committee on Aging, Orange County Chapter she received the Outstanding Senior Citizen in 1995.
She now lives in The Meadows nursing home where she loves to participate in all the scheduled activities, but especially Bingo.
‘If I can’t stay busy doing one thing, I stay busy doing something else,” she said.
There are plans for a party to celebrate the 101st birthday of this kind, sweet woman who along her journey of life which has covered many paths, surely would have not missed one step along the way.
“I have had a good life,” she says with a smile.
Vergie Scales celebrates being 101 years old on Oct. 31.