When Caroline Alexander was born on November 11, 1919, fighting in the First World War had been over for exactly a year to the day. Woodrow Wilson was president. The last veteran of World War I died in 2012. But Alexander? "I just keep on keeping on," she said last Friday. Though her 100th birthday is coming up on November 11, her friends and family have planned a special birthday party for her for Saturday, November 9, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm in the Masonic Lodge of Dumas. "Turning 100 is a big deal," said her niece, Diana Smith.
"She leads a busy life," said Joyce Gorham, Alexander's younger sister. A resident of Dumas for the last three years, Alexander loves to read paperback novels; she helps her sister and others quilt on Tuesdays; and she goes with her sister to services at the Assembly of God three times a week. On Fridays, she goes to the beauty shop. "I couldn't ask for better," she said when asked if her life had been good so far.
She was not born in Texas. She moved to Borger by way of Kansas from Marion Indiana as a seven-year-old girl with her parents. Her father was seeking work in the oil industry. Borger in the 1920's was experiencing an oil boom, and jobs were plentiful. Except for a few brief periods, Alexander would call Borger home for 90 years.
In addition to the oil boom, the Borger of the 1920's was experiencing a sin boom, something that never affected Alexander. "They seemed to think it was real wild, but it just seemed normal to me as a child," she said of life in Borger. She was a member of the First Christian Church, and she would remain an active member until her move to Dumas three years ago to be closer to family members.
Though she attended school in Borger for 11 years, she ended up graduating in 1936 from Phillips High School, a member of the first graduating class.
After graduation, Alexander stayed in Borger and worked as a telephone operator until she met and married her husband, Phil. It was World War II by then, and her husband, like most other men of that generation, was in the military. She followed him to Ft. Bliss in El Paso and other posts. Phil had a daughter from a previous marriage, so when he finally shipped out for overseas duty in North Africa, Caroline and her step-daughter returned to Borger to wait out the war.
With the end of the war, the Alexanders' life began again in Borger. They had a grocery store and then a feed store for many years. They had another daughter, who, sadly, died eight years later. Over the years, Alexander was an elder in her church. She became a lifetime member of Eastern Star and a charter member of Rainbow for Girls. She learned how to paint and became active in an art club. She was a supporter of the Hutchison County Historical Museum.
Among family and friends, Alexander gained a reputation as a "fabulous cook". Swiss steak and mashed potatoes were a specialty, and "she sewed for everybody," said Gorham. "She has always been busy and very compassionate."
Alexander took care of their mother and other relatives over the years. "Family is the thing," she said. According to her, family and the church are the two most important things in life.
After Phil's death, Alexander did not stop living. She developed a taste for overseas travel. She went with groups to Europe, Africa, and Asia. She also travelled in the United States to Hawaii, Virginia, Massachusetts, and other places.
Though she has slowed down a bit in recent years, she says her health is good. She does not smoke or drink. She does like chocolate, though.
Alexander has seen the world transformed over the course of her long life. Her secret to dealing with change: "I go with the flow."
Looking forward to her 100th birthday, Alexander says the great lesson she has learned about life is: "Just keep up with what God wants you to do."