105 years of memories

She remembers when huge blocks of ice were delivered to homes in a horse-drawn carriage and when doctors made house calls.

As a newlywed, Evalyne Hinsch and her husband, Virgil, took horse-drawn sleigh rides and listened to suspense radio shows for entertainment.

And she remembers when the couple first watched a television and when Model T Fords came off American assembly lines. She didn’t experience electricity until she was a teenager.

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Hinsch turns 105 on Sept. 11, making her among the oldest residents of Johnson County.

Her longevity could be attributed to her genes. Her father lived to be 100, and her grandparents were on the edge of 90 before they died. Her mother died in a car accident at a relatively young age.

Her lifestyle could play a role, too. Although she still enjoys coffee, beer and treats made with bourbon.

The centenarian grew up in Kentucky bourbon country, and a nephew brings her bourbon balls laced with the alcohol. Pizza is only enjoyed with a beer.

Her longevity should be attributed to her penchant for life and friends, said Suzanne Hinsch, her daughter-in-law. Suzanne and Evalyne live in a home in Bargersville together, a year after Evalyne’s only child, Rodney, died.

Evalyne helps maintain the household — she still balances her own checkbook, brews her own coffee and makes her own breakfast. She was driving short distances at 99.

“She was driving when she was 99. She did — she drove around the block,” Suzanne Hinsch said.

Her closest brush to any serious illness or injury was when she was a child and her mother asked her to clean chamber pots. A piece of a handle broke off and smacked her in the head, knocking her out cold.

The doctor came to the home on a horse and told her she would have died if the handle had gone just a little bit closer to her temple.

She had a hip replacement about 10 years ago and gall bladder and appendix removal surgeries. She still has her own teeth.

Hinsch has lived a full life.

Her grandparents raised her on a farm just south of Louisville, where she liked to eat radish, onion, tomato and biscuit sandwiches as a snack after the one-mile walk home from the one-room school house.

One of her first memories is of her and a cousin crossing a path to fetch water from a well.

She spent time with her mother, designing and sewing hats at the millinery shop where her mother worked.

“I had a good childhood,” she said.

At 16, her grandparents sent her north to Indianapolis to live with her father. At 15, she and a friend decided to take a Model T Ford for a joy ride. The car got stuck in mud, and Hinsch remembers rocking her body back and forth to free the car.

The first time she saw electricity was as a teenager when she pulled into Indianapolis to meet her father.

Soon after coming to Indianapolis, her father got her a job at a Van Kamp’s factory, where she dropped pork in the company’s famed cans of pork and beans.

Then she started working in department stores. A coworker introduced her to her brother, Virgil. The couple were married for 50 years before his death. They settled on 10th Street in Indianapolis for most of their married life.

They liked doing the same things and both liked the outdoors and listening to Amos N’ Andy on the radio, she said. She remembers when they got their first car and when they bought their first television.

She continued to work at department stores for most of her work life. She sold a record player to Liberace, let Jimmy Dean use her typewriter and was treated to lunch by Barbra Streisand.

She never had a goal to reach a certain age; she just wanted to live life, she said.

“I never gave my age one thought,” she said.

The key to her longevity is her love of life and how active she has stayed, her daughter-in-law and neighbors said.

“I think that is why she has lived so long, she stays active,” Suzanne Hinsch said.

She keeps her mind sharp with crossword puzzles and word searches every day. She goes out to lunch with friends and neighbors who call her “mama,” at least once a week and gets manicures and her hair done weekly.

And she fondly remembers her 100th birthday, when her hair dresser surprised her with a male exotic dancer.

“He was as neat and nice as he could be,” she said.

She reads the newspaper every morning and watches the news every night, partly in preparation for the November election, an election she plans to vote in, she said.

And on her birthday next week, her neighbors plan to celebrate with a party.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.