Morton woman celebrates a century

Party planned Saturday downtown

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Norma Blank of Morton celebrates her 100th birthday Sunday, Jan. 26. The Morton Senior Citizens Center will throw her a birthday 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 in downtown Morton. Blank still wears her class ring, from Redwood Falls High School Class of 1937.

MORTON — Norma Blank, who worked past her 93rd birthday, will celebrate her 100th birthday from 2 to 4 p.m. today (Saturday, Jan. 25) at the Morton Senior Citizens Center.

Blank attributes her longevity to working most of her life and not smoking or drinking alcohol. She admitted she enjoys eating just about anything.

“I just kept on working, to age 93 and one-half,” Blank said.

Her last job was site manager at the Morton Senior Citizens Center, a position she held for 14 and a half years.

Blank worked many jobs in her life. For decades, she owned and operated a cafe in Morton, The Highway Cafe and Blank’s Cafe.

“Many high school kids in town, often girls, worked for her at the cafes. Now, she has lots of good neighbors who check up on her to make sure she’s doing okay,” said Linda Kahmeyer, who now works at the Morton Senior Citizens Center.

Blank, who still drives a motor vehicle in Morton, said the senior citizens center is a big part of her life.

“I enjoy coming to the Senior Citizens Center to visit and play cards. It’s like my family,” Blank said.

She was a farm wife and worked at a Franklin grocery store in her earlier days.

Blank has out-lived all four of her children.

Born in Missouri, her family moved to a Minnesota farm near Redwood Falls when Blank was very young.

“They had to find a place for me to live during the winter months so I could go to school,” Blank said. “My parents traded eggs, cream and butter for my room and board with families in Redwood Falls.”

During warmer months, she rode to school with neighbors, but only after walking one-half mile from her farm to a rural intersection to catch a ride.

She remembered the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

“People had to tie a rope from their home to the barn so they could find their way when the dust blew,” Norma said.

Life on the farm had other challenges too.

“The kids used to argue about who would hand crank the milk separator,” Blank said. “The pigs got the milk after it was separated. We had lots of animals to butcher and cows to milk.”

She married John Roland Blank in 1938. The couple farmed for many years. He died in 1994.

Norma still wears her Redwood Falls High School Class of 1937 class ring.

Her health is still pretty good. She had a hip replacement at age 95. She had thyroid surgery a few years ago.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).