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No secret in living to 100

After celebrating her 100th birthday, Martha Pasko reflects on her life


The secret to a long life may be nothing at all, at least according to Martha Pasko, who celebrated her 100th birthday Sept. 16.

“Nothing special I did, I just happened,” the centenarian said.

But her life can’t be described as nothing. After marrying her husband Charles — who she met at the Portland Rose Parade and married a year later — she followed him to France in 1938, right before World War II broke out in Europe.by: GARY ALLEN - Another time - Martha Pasko holds a picture of herself from her wedding day in 1933. She celebrated her 100th birthday this month.

“You couldn’t have lights on at night, all the windows had to be covered with blue paper,” she said.

But she still called the experience “so-so.”

Ten months later, she was evacuated from her home at Villefranche-sur-Mer along with four other women as bombs were going off in Italy — a mere 15 miles away.

“Charles said if there was ever a recall and evacuation on a ship, don’t cut through the garden or you’ll fall in the moat,” she said. “Take the road around.”

Her niece, Bernadinne Carr, said for some time after the war Pasko still received Christmas cards from the local mayor, who lived at Villefranche during that time as well.

Once back in the states, Pasko started working for the state mental hospital in California, where she remembers people often escaping.

“There was one the driver and I went out looking for and I saw the bushes wiggling and thought maybe it would be him, but no, it was a tramp changing his clothes,” she said. “Someone turned (the missing patient) in to the state department in Waterford, so we got him back.”

In 1975, she moved to Dundee where she became licensed as a medical technician, retiring in the early 1980s. Her husband died in 1986.

Looking back on her life, Carr mentioned that for 30 years Pasko was a chain smoker until one day she wasn’t.

“She decided to quit. She didn’t tell anybody, she just quit. A few days later she said to her husband, ‘Are you noticing I’m not smoking?’” Carr said. “A few weeks later she came to visit and brought cigarettes in case she was drove to smoking. It was her goal to quit for three months so she could get little pink lungs, then start again. But she hasn’t smoked since. She’s quite a dramatic person.”

Pasko said during the 100 years of her life man developed the atomic bomb, Model T Fords and televisions. Growing up she didn’t even have a radio, and for a while got around using a horse and buggy. She said although they had mules, she never rode them, which her nephew Glenn Johnson attributed to her long life.

She also lived though the flu epidemic of 1918.

“I remember my father would get letters from his family and he would read them standing over the fire so he could drop them in,” she said.

But for now, she lives peacefully surrounded by her favorite things — old photographs from her wedding, a plate given to her at birth by her grandmother, and family photos.




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