"Oldies but Goodies" by Joni Stewart
Mildred McGirr's life is living proof that being in the right place at the right time
is all about appreciation. Recounting events which have shaped her life, the pattern which
repeats itself is the ability to step into a giant situation with a tiny gesture.
Her love life began on a ranch six miles out of Galena. Born in 1916, the eldest of eight
children, Mildred came to know the rigors and rewards of simple living at an early age.
Her memories of their childhood days evoke an idyllic youth fostered by attentive parents and
virtually stress-free environment. She was helping her mom bake bread by the time she was nine. Her
dad took Mildred and her siblings down to the meadow and taught them how to drive a '23 Chevy Touring car and
Model A coaches. "My dad would put on a pair of boxing gloves and get down on his knees and let the little
ones 'spar' with him," she recalls. "Kids had time to be kids then; to watch bugs and birds and water and wind;
to use their imagination all day and never be in a hurry."
Her affinity for rural living has been sustained by residing some 58 years in Long Creek and Fox. Marrying Leland McGirr
in 1933, and widowed in 1991, Mildred lives on the Fox homestead founded by Leland's grandfather, Frank, in 1879.
The McGirrs raised two girls and one boy and were responsible for caring for youngsters with no place to go.
"The kids would bring home children in rough spots and we would be there for them," remembers Mildred. One young man she is
still in touch with. She encountered him on the road one night as she was heading home and he was hitchhiking. She stopped and
asked him where he was going, and he said, to the McGirr's. Word had gotten out by then of their hospitality. But more to
the point, she was responsible for positively changing the course of that young man's life.
Chances are, Mildred is perhaps best known for her consistent attendance to the birthday's of the Blue Mountain Nursing
Home residents. Since 1973, Mildred has baked a cake a month for the celebration of the resident's birthdays.
Mildred, and friends Ruth Piquet and Bonnie Allen, attended a cake decorating class and thus began a wedding cake business. "We have kept
this up for so long now, that we are making 25th and 50th anniversary cakes for couples whose wedding cakes we made."
If Mildred had one wish it would be to be back at the ranch in Galena. People my age have "seen the best of this world, no hurry, no stress," she
Finding a way to appreciate our life and times is a sure fire way to feel right with yourself and your surroundings.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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