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story.lead_photo.caption Milda Hagemeyer gets ready to celebrate her 104th birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Photo by Paula Tredway / California Democrat.

Almost 104 years later and Milda Hagemeyer is still cracking jokes.

"I've had quite a few birthdays," Hagemeyer said, jokingly.

Hagemeyer was born February 18, 1916, and this year will be celebrating her 104th birthday.

She grew up on a farm in Lohman where she, along with her three brothers and three sisters — her being the youngest — worked to keep it running. They did everything from housework, yardwork and cooking to milking the cows and cleaning the pigs. She recalls one morning when she was cleaning the pigs' trough, she slipped and fell in making a huge mess.

But, one of her favorite memories is of her mother, Katherine.

"One morning my mother was feeding the cows after dad passed away," Hagemeyer said, smiling. "She was putting hay in the manger and when she went to drop it in, a man jumped out."

She graduated eighth grade, six years at Centertown and then two at the church school. She would walk to and from school almost every day — rain or shine. When the time came, Hagemeyer got her first driver's license at a grocery store in Centertown, which cost her just 50 cents. She can still remember when Highway 50 went from gravel to pavement, which she was happy about because it made driving a lot easier for her.

Years down the road, Hagemeyer married her husband, Oscar Hagemeyer, on August 9, 1942. The two were together for 61 years, until Oscar passed away in 2003.

"I didn't have a wedding dress, I just had a plain dress," Hagemeyer said. "That dress cost me six dollars."

They were married for three days before Oscar was sent off to fight in World War II. During that time, Hagemeyer stayed home, worked and took care of the house.

They have two boys, Wayne and James, as well as six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

"She was digging potatoes the day before I was born," Wayne Hagemeyer said.

Hagemeyer never stopped working whether it be around the house, in the garden or at her job. She worked at California Manufacturing Company for 13 years where she started out making men's trousers and eventually jackets.

Over the years, she has witnessed the world around her change.

"You (have) a lot more things now than we did had then," Hagemeyer said. "We couldn't afford much at that time [during the Great Depression]. We had to do with simple things. Of course, we learned to do a lot of sewing; we made our own clothes."

And to this day, all her clothes are handmade.

"She used to, for every Christmas, make quilts for the family — one quilt for each grandkid and for each married couple," Sara Hagemeyer-Turner, Milda's granddaughter, said.

Today, Hagemeyer spends her time watching television in her chair, visiting with family, and reading the newspaper and the Bible cover to cover — which she has done multiple times.

Making it 104 years is impressive — her secret?

"I eat too much, I guess," Hagemeyer said. "And God gave it to me. I've just done a lot of work my whole life."

This article was edited Feb. 19, 2020, to correct the number of Milda Hagemeyer's great- and great-great-grandchildren.

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