For Margaret Milnor, July 4 has always meant more than fireworks, cookouts and other red, white and blue themed fun – July 4 is her birthday. And this year the Luling resident blew out an impressive number of candles on her cake, because this year Milnor turned 100.
Milnor was born on July 4, 1922 in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I grew up on the beaches, and I still love to be tan,” Milnor said this week as she patted her bronze arm. “Every day I sit out on the back porch for 15 minutes and get some vitamin D.”
Milnor can recall details and stories about her past with great ease, making it hard to believe that over 80 years have spanned since some of the now memories were first made.
“I met my husband Glen in a park in South Carolina,” she said. “I had a friend and we both sang in the choir and every other week we would alternate whose house we would go to after practice. So one day we went to the park and well who do we meet there but her cousin and he had another man with him. He asked me on a date.”
Milnor said the duo’s first date was to a movie.
“But it was a while ago … I don’t remember the movie,” she said laughing, adding that it was not love at first sight. “But it grew and it grew and it grew … and every time I turned around there he was.”
The couple dated for two years before they were married in 1942. With Glen in the Navy, the couple lived in New York City for two years.
“What an experience that was,” she remembers. ‘From a sleepy southern town to New York City.”
The Milnors ended up eventually settling in Louisiana due to very unique circumstances.
“Well we were on our way to California … that’s where he wanted to live,” she said. “All air travel then was military, so you had to go by train. We took a train to New Orleans and we got here and we had a 24-hour layover. So while we were here he talked to someone and they told him about the Mardi Gras that was coming up and he wanted to stay for that, so we rented an apartment.”
Milnor said conditions inside the apartment were unbearable.
“It was hot … so hot … hot as the devil,” she said. “There were no fans and no a/c and it got like an oven. He read in the paper about homes in Kenner, and he bought one and planted two trees – a fig tree and a pecan tree – in the front yard.”
A few months into the Milnors being Louisiana residents came and went, and then it was time for Mardi Gras.
“It overwhelmed me,” Milnor remembers as she shakes her head. “I didn’t expect anything like that. I couldn’t understand what it was all about, but he loved it. When it got time to go to California, he said ‘I’m not going to leave my trees’ … and he never did.”
The Milnors raised two daughters in the Kenner home. They eventually had six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
“He would never leave his trees,” Milnor said again laughing.
The couple was married for 59 years before Glen died.
“He had Alzheimer’s,” Milnor said. “It’s just horrible to live like that.”
Milnor lived in that same Kenner home up until a few years ago. She now lives at SummerHouse Ashton Manor. She stays busy with a plethora of activities, including card games, arts and crafts, and exercise classes.
“I do the exercises classes five times a week,” she said. “I don’t miss that under any circumstance.”
She is also an ardent reader.
“I just finished a 875 page book on the Confederate War,” she said. “It covered 1862 and 1863 and talked about women’s rights. It was fascinating.”
Still an avid learner, Milnor is also a retired educator. She taught adult Bible church at Kenner Methodist for 13 years, and also taught 5th grade students for all of her teaching career.
“The kids loved to tease me,” she said. “They would say, ‘Mrs. Milnor never got out of the fifth grade.’”
Milnor said she has seen a lot in her lifetime.
“I’ve seen enough for two or three lifetimes,” she said laughing. “There’s been so many changes on women’s positions …. women had no rights. That used to get to me. And there were no televisions growing up. We had radios and we really thought we were living, but when my husband got a television set he was just deliriously happy with it. He thought that was the living end. He was so proud of that.”
Milnor said she intends to fully live out the rest of her life.
“I watch my diet,” she said. “I try to keep the pounds off. I don’t eat a lot of meat and no chips … there’s too much salt. I eat cake, but I’ll scrape off the icing.”
And if you see her walking the halls at Ashton, you’ll notice her walker looks different from those of other residents.
“I used to have tennis balls at the bottom … you know how they put the tennis balls sometimes?” she said, pointing to her walker which is now equipped with small ski-like glides. “Well I was wearing the balls out. I needed new ones each week. I like to do 15 or 16 laps around the halls a day. I just don’t want to sit and look at TV every day.”