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Granite Shoals’ Pauline Poe celebrates a century of life

Pauline Poe of Granite Shoals celebrated her 100th birthday June 24. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

GRANITE SHOALS — Pauline Poe still recalls when she got the little owl figurine that sits atop a clock in her room. Her brother James Elwood Stegall scooped her up into his arms when she was about 3 and gave her the owl as a gift. Then, a short time later, James Elwood donned a uniform and served his country during World War I.

Yeah, World War I.

“I was the youngest of 14 children,” Poe said. “Most of the others were much older than me.”

Poe, who lives in an attached apartment at the Granite Shoals home of her daughter, Rebecca Myers, and son-in-law Chuck, celebrated her 100th birthday June 24.

“There’s a lot of history behind me,” she said with a grin. And a lot alongside of her.

In her room, Poe keeps a “Wall of Heroes.” Inside a large frame on the wall are photos of family members, including her brother James, who served in the military. In the middle is her grandfather John H. Stegall, who served in the Arkansas infantry in the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The latest addition is a photo of her great-granddaughter, Samantha Bracken, a Marble Falls High School graduate, who now serves in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Ashland.

As a child, Poe grew up in the Texas high plains. Her father was a farmer, rancher, carpenter — a jack-of-all trades. Though they had some ties to the land, it wasn’t as if life demanded that they stay in one spot. Sometimes, it just depended on how close the world encroached on her father and their home.

“When the community started building up around him, he moved,” Poe said.

Typically, they weren’t town folk. Poe remembered walking two miles to school with her brother Joe to a one-room, rural schoolhouse during their early years. They would often walk across a creek where people would dump unwanted kittens or puppies.

“If we found one, we’d give it a part of our lunch, and when we came home, if it was still there, we’d take it with us and we’d try to find it a home,” Poe said.

Poe lived through some of the country’s toughest times — entry into the first World War, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and then World War II. She admitted not remembering a lot of World War I (“I was a bit young then.”) Though the Depression was tough, Poe said her family always managed to have food, clothes and a roof — even with 14 children — though a few had moved off on their own by that time.

“I don’t know how my mamma cared for such a big family,” Poe said. “But she did.”

In 1933, she married Paul Poe, a man she met over an ice cream cone. The two spent the next 77 years together, raising four children and moving around quite a bit until his death in 2010. He was 97.

Though the Depression raged around the young couple, they made do. Often, this meant picking up themselves, and eventually the children, and moving.

“He would take a job wherever there was one. It didn’t matter where the job was, he’d take it. It didn’t matter where it was,” Poe said. “We would pick up the tent and go where there were jobs.”

During their 77 years together, the couple lived in eight states, including 15 years in California and 15 years in Oregon.

Though they resided in quite a few places, Poe doesn’t really favor one over the other.

“We enjoyed wherever he had work,” she said. “We enjoyed raising our family and being together.”

As for the secret to 77 years of marriage, Poe offered one thing.

“Just love one another,” she said. “That’s what keeps you together. You can have problems and still overcome them if you have love.”

daniel@thepicayune.com