Wednesday, November 10, 2010
McElvains Make "Big Change"
The Seymour Herald - 4 November 2010
I was reared on a Centennial Farm. It was several years after I moved from it that it earned that prestigious designation. My brother Paul McElvain and his wife Helen were living there then. The year was 1991. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship recognized at that time the family of McElvain had owned and been stewards of Iowa land for over 100 years.
In 1868 our great grandfather W. D. McElvain and his family left Illinois and bought land and settled in Appanoose County, Iowa. There they spent their remaining years. Part of W. D.'s land holdings passed down through three generations, finally to Paul.
Paul told me he always enjoyed being a farmer and even though he had a small farm, by today's standards, he was a good farmer. These headlines attest to that fact:
Local Hog Producers Have Good Year
[The above headline accompanied a story and picture
of Paul's family in 1954.]
He and Helen successfully reared five children. He loved spending his years in the country on his farm. He often expressed his desire to never leave the farm, just as his grandfather had wished.
But, the years have a way of taking a toil. Arthritis and severe macular degeneration have caused a once strong, active man to become unable to do the farming and even caused the sale of their car, as neither Paul nor Helen can drive now.
So what can retired farmers do when time and health issues have caught up with them: When it is no longer safe or wise to remain on an isolated farm?
Recently Paul and Helen put their house on the market after agreeing to move into town to an assisted living development.
Try to imagine their feelings when family members reasoned with them that changes must be made. Helen was more in favor of change. She felt she had lived through enough winters out there in that isolated rural area. But Paul still didn't want to make the big change. A daughter, Bonnie, from Arizona has made many dozens of trips to visit and help them. She did it willingly, but still it caused her to give up some of her usual activities and time with her husband and friends there in Arizona.
Paul did finally agree to move. He really resigned himself to the inevitable and to Helen's wishes.
Bonnie has kept me apprised of the situation there in Iowa. She was there when the move was made from the farm to town September 28 of this year. They are settled in a small apartment. And, she reports they are loving it! The food is good, there are activities, transportation can be arranged for doctor appoint-ments, medications are delivered and other conveniences are provided. They even went to church, a usual Sunday occurrence for them, their first Sunday in their new surroundings. A first cousin once removed is an ordained minister. She comes to this development and conducts a church service. She not only is a relative, but is also a friend, having grown up with Paul and Helen's children in the same neighborhood.
It seems these farmers have adjusted to this uprooting very quickly. Ever since I've been here at Wind Crest I've wished they were in a similar place. Their's is much smaller, with only 40 apartments, but I believe it is the right place for them.
It saddens me that soon the family's claim to the title of Centennial Farm will be no more, but I know it has to be. How fortunate my brothers and I were to be reared on that precious and wholesome land. I am so thankful Paul and Helen have found a safe and happy place now.
Marge Inman - October 7, 2010