Imagine living from a time when horse and buggy was the means of travel in a world captured in black and white photographs, to crossing the continent in a day via air and keeping up with family in colour and live over the Internet.
Trail pioneer Cecilia Neufeld (Brost), has lived through it all and recounts much of her past with funny stories and easy laugh.
“I’ve always been healthy,” she said. “I never needed to see a doctor or stay in the hospital,” added Neufeld (Brost). “Before I came here I was washing my walls and ceilings all by myself.”
When the Silver City senior turns 100-years old Thursday, the community is welcome to drop by Columbia View Lodge to wish the spry lady a Happy Birthday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“What she said repeatedly while I was growing up was, don’t waste food, don’t spend money on things you don’t need, save money and don’t overeat unless you are at my house,” chuckled son Stan Brost.
Born Cecilia Hausauer on May 15, 1914 in Kronenthal Russia to a family of German immigrants, she remembers travelling by boat to Canada with her parents, four brothers and three sisters in 1928.
“My father’s brother died in the war and he said my boys are not going to be killed,” said Neufeld (Brost). “‘I am out of here,’ he said, so we all came on a ship to a farm in Medicine Hat.”
Jobs were scarce in 1930’s Alberta, so it was during that time Cecilia and first husband, Dave Brost, hopped a train to Trail in hopes of finding work at (then) Cominco.
She said there wasn’t much to the city back then, but the smelter gave her husband a job and the means to raise her brood of seven boys.
Becoming a mother of seven did not slow Cecilia down as she worked long hours as a babysitter to neighbourhood families and pursued her passion of buying, renting and selling houses.
At one time, she owned 14 properties in the downtown and West Trail area.
“One story is she would go traipsing through town with three kids in tow.” said husband of nine years Jacob Neufeld. “And the neighbours would say, ‘There she goes again buying another house.’”
Neufeld (Brost) lived in her own home until she was 95, then moved into an apartment in East Trail, said son Stan. “Mainly because she couldn’t reach the top of the windows or the walls to clean them because she was shrinking with age.”
Cecilia took great pride in cooking large meals for 10 or more family members until last fall, when she suffered her first-ever medical set back, a stroke, the morning of Nov. 19.
The 99-year old was living her lifelong “early to bed early to rise” mantra when she collapsed making breakfast.
She’s been a resident at Columbia View Lodge for a few months following a period of recovery in the Trail hospital.
But when the young-at-heart senior blows out birthday cake candles this week, her one wish will be to get back to home and catch up on daily chores.
“I’ve had a good life, always liked to work and I like kids,” she said.
“But I am ready to go home. Right now, that is what I care about.”