Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

November 10, 2013

Centenarian celebrates her birthday on 11/12/13

TRAVERSE CITY — May Irene Hovda had to wait 100 years for her birthday — 11/12/13 — to roll around again.

Hovda will celebrate the rare, special occasion with her family Tuesday at the Grand Traverse Pavilions. Her birthday wish: A Lady Baltimore Cake with pineapple filling and seven-minute icing, like the ones her mother used to make.

The centenarian was born on a Minnesota farm in 1913, the year the federal income tax was levied, the first sedan went on display, and the post office began parcel post deliveries.

“They didn’t have all those hospitals when I was born,” said Hovda, the oldest of four sisters spaced two years apart. “You were born where you lived.”

Hovda attended the one-room country school where her mother taught, and earned a trip to the Minnesota State Fair after winning a county spelling bee. Life at home was filled with reading, games, church, picnics and other outdoor activities.

“I was a boisterous person,” she said, recalling adventures like hiding from a bull that got loose, getting chilblains after sitting up front with the driver on a winter horse-and-buggy ride, and having to be rescued after climbing the ladder in the silo. “It was always loud where I was.”

One of her favorite times of year was Christmas. That’s when her father stood at the foot of the stairs and blew a horn to draw the family to the tree, decorated with lit candles in the Swedish tradition. Underneath were four small piles of presents, one for each daughter.

But perhaps her biggest adventure was one she didn’t recognize as such at the time.

“Charles Lindbergh had a farm north of hers and the girls used to hear a noise overhead and run out and say, ‘There’s that Lindbergh boy again,’” said Marilyn Sisk, Hovda’s daughter.

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