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94 Years Young

Pfeiffer, Ann Marie. "94 Years Young." Prairies 8, no. 7: February 1985, 8-10.

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My mother, Theresa Geffre Pfeifer, has seen a lot of life. She is 94, and still remains a vital, energetic, intelligent woman. She lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and greatly enjoys her family and friends.

My mother was born on October 10, 1890 in Leola, South Dakota. She married Peter Pfeiffer on January 19, 1915 at St. Hyacinth’s Church in Leola. They lived in several communities: first in Leola, and later in Aberdeen and Strasburg, North Dakota, and then back to Aberdeen.

They had ten children: Edward, Anna Marie, Bertha, Cecilia, Leocadia, Albet, Agnes, Mathilda (Marge), Theresa, and Herman Peter. Their son, Albert, died at age nine of Bright’s Disease on February 12, 1932. Their daughter, Theresa, died on December 18, 1981.

Now, of course, the family is spread all over the nation, from New York to California to South Dakota. There are 41 grandchildren and 53 great grandchildren.

My brothers and sisters all remember our mother as being a kind, loving, and hard-working person, plus a deeply religious woman. (She still spends much time each day in prayer.)

It certainly was no easy task raising a large family during the Depression years. Both our father and mother did a lot of gardening. They even developed their gardening into a kind of small business. Mother prepared the vegetables for selling, which was done by the children who took their wagons early in the morning.

On good days, the business netted from $15 to $30 per day.

Father was a building contractor and carpenter, but, during the Depression years, it was rough.

Mother did the usual household chores: sewing, cooking, baking all the family’s bread, milking one cow, taking care of chickens, and whatever else needed to be done. Children helped according to their ages as time went by.

We children all vividly recall the tantalizing fragrant smells which greeted our nostrils before we even opened the door, returning home from school. It was the delicious aroma of fresh baked bread. Who can forget such wonderful baking smells? And then there were the fresh pugnant scents during the canning seasons!

After the children were grown, Mother went to daily Mass, from about 1945 to 1972, as weather and health permitted. This practice of attending Mass occasionally during the week was continued up until 1980 when she broke her shoulder.

In September 1983, she was hospitalized for congestive heart failure, and was very ill. Her recovery was slow, but steady, and now she is greatly improved.

At age 94, she still writes in her diary, which she has done since about 1965. Previous to that she wrote in a composition book, important things that she wanted to remember.

She also enjoys very much making her famous sour cream sugar cookies and molasses sugar cookies—which her grandchildren enjoy even more! She thoroughly relishes these baking occasions.

She tries to keep as active as possible. She likes to help with the drying of dishes, and does a lot of reading: especially daily newspapers and magazines. And of course, she prays a lot. She is still very excited about life and rarely gets to bed before midnight. She has a delightful sense of humor and loves to get mail.

But she is not a TV fan!

Her daughters, Bertha, Cecilia, and I, live in her apartment house. Cecilia and I have our own apartment in her apartment house, and we all help our mother in whatever way we can.

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