In 2018, historians marked the anniversary of the end of World War I.
Frederick Living’s oldest resident, Hannah Carlson, was born the year World War I started in 1914, before the United States was involved.
She celebrated her 105th birthday on March 4 and has seen many changes in society in her lifetime.
Hannah grew up on a farm in the Skippack area, along with two sisters and a brother. She rode a horse to school as a child with her sisters and the horse knew to return home after dropping them off at school and come along after them later in the day to take them home.
She graduated from Collegeville High School and attended Pierce Business School in Philadelphia for two years. Her first job was as an administrative assistant to a manager of a company in Betzwood, near King of Prussia, and later she became a claims manager for an insurance company. While Hannah worked she also helped out both of her parents on the farm.
Hannah belonged to a women’s club that enjoyed a fun weekend in a cabin along the Perkiomen Creek in the 1930s and on her first day there she met a nice young man named, Melvin Carlson who was staying in a nearby cabin. The two dated and were married in 1939 and later they bought farm land near Collegeville. They were happily married for 71 years.
In addition to continuing to do office work she also helped her husband. When they bought the land Melvin noticed that it had some fruit trees on it and they decided to expand the plantings into a full blown orchard composed of peach, pear and plum trees. Their orchard was well known in the area and people came to the farm regularly to purchase fresh fruit. Along with fruit trees they had a few cows, horses and two beagles who were like their children. Their land had a lovely wooded area on the edge of their property and they opened this area to church groups to come and do overnight camping.
One of the other residents of Frederick Living, Jean Buckwalter, remembers going camping there with her husband and other young couples.
Hannah belonged to Lower Providence Baptist Church, which itself dates back over 200 years. It was founded as part of the “Holy Experiment” of William Penn when Baptists from Wales settled in the township of Lower Providence. Later she and her husband attended Falkner Swamp United Church of Christ in Gilbertsville. Hannah took piano lessons as a child and always loved to play. She played piano for the Sunday school program at the Baptist church and still plays the piano and enjoys a small keyboard that she keeps by her bed in her room.
Hannah and Melvin came to Frederick Living in 1986 and lived at first in a Dogwood cottage. After Melvin died in 2000 she moved into an Oaktree apartment, then later moved into Magnolia House and now resides in the Cedarwood area. In addition to playing the piano, Hannah played the organ here for 25 years. She also played the organ at Montgomery County Geriatric Center (now called Parkhouse Nursing Center) for many years and was instrumental in starting a volunteer group there called the "Gray Ladies.” Hannah did over 37 years of volunteer work after leaving her office job.
Hannah’s other hobby is painting and her favorite thing to paint is birds. She displayed a painting in the recent resident art show and still attends the Monday art classes. Sometime after she first moved into a cottage at Frederick Living in 1986, Hannah was involved in the production of the monthly resident newsletter called “Connections,” which is still produced by residents. The trees and birds which still adorn the masthead of the resident newsletter were drawn by Hannah.
Along with her artwork and piano playing Hannah belonged to a women’s group that communicated with older adults who were not able to leave their homes. She regularly sent about 275 to 300 letters and cards each month for many years until the postage increases made it too expensive to continue. They often included jokes and items of interest and she knows the folks who received these cards and letters really appreciated them. Hannah hopes she can inspire others to send even a few each month, as people who can’t get out due to health concerns really love getting mail. Some of her friends at Frederick also received her lovely handmade cards and treasure them.
Hannah shares her sweet smile and friendly personality daily with the staff and other residents at Frederick Living and we couldn’t wish a happy 105th birthday to a nicer person!