Mary Jo Hanna

Mary Jo Hanna at various points in her 100 years.

Keizerite Mary Jo Hanna celebrated her 100th birthday Friday, March 25. We sent her a questionnaire about her life and times and this is what she sent back.

KT: When and where were you born?

MJH: I was born to Bertha and Fred Drost on March 25, 1911, in Seattle Wash. Fred was a Canada native and Bertha hailed from Indiana.

KT: What was life like growing up?

MJH: We did a lot of walking along the city streets of Seattle visiting the stores at Christmas time and playing in the park. Rolling up the rug to have friends and neighbors over for music and dancing. Taking the train to Indiana and catching the 1918 flu. Watching the Stanley Steamer cars go down hill and then turn around and go backwards to have enough power to make it up the hill.

KT: Where did you go to school?

MJH: Gatewood School in Seattle. I didn’t like school but always had an inquisitive mind and a desire to learn about almost anything. It still exists today. I graduated from West Seattle high school.

KT: What three people that have inspired you?

MJH: 1. The queen of England: “She’s such a cute little Queen and such a lady.”

2. Rose Kennedy: “I don’t know how she held up with her sons being killed like that. She’s very strong”

3. John Wayne: “Didn’t he make good movies?”

KT: What were you doing before and during World War II?

MJH: I spent the depression years in Texas both in the Rio Grande valley and in Dallas. I remember what it was like to have no food for a day or often more. When things became a little better, hobos would come through asking for something to eat. I always treated them as a guest, serving them on blue glass plates because I was hoping it would make a difference in their lives.

In 1937, I was able to make a car trip from Dallas to Seattle and was in one of the first cars to cross the newly opened Golden Gate bridge. I worked in a Dallas office  building during World War II handing out gas rationing coupons. During that time I moved back to my beloved Seattle where she combined working in a dental office with watching for Japanese spy planes over Puget Sound. I met my husband Hugh Hanna – by chance introduction that turned into many happy years of marriage.

KT: When did you come to Keizer and why?

MJH: We moved to Keizer in the 1960s. Hugh had taken a position as administrator of Willamette Lutheran Home and we settled into a brand new area called Willark Park. I became a member of Salem Area Grow and Show, Willark Park Garden Club and the Audubon Society. I very much enjoyed my yard and visiting with neighbors.

KT: To what do you attribute your longevity?

MJH: Three things: my friends, my love of animals – everyone needs to have a cat to hold on their lap. I think it helps you – and diet. I don’t like vegetables. I have always loved tea. I also like chocolate I don’t think it hurts you one bit. My favorite meal is a New York cut steak and a good martini.

KT: What wisdom would you impart to today’s young people?

MJH: You have to just take hold of yourself and decide you are going to do it. You have to laugh. Keep wanting to live.