Friday, 19 January 2018 06:39

Swift Current centenarian has many memories from an active family life

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Marie Nodge (at right) dances with her daughter Isabelle during her 100th birthday celebration, Dec. 29. Marie Nodge (at right) dances with her daughter Isabelle during her 100th birthday celebration, Dec. 29. Contributed

Long-time Swift Current resident Marie Nodge celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 8 by enjoying some coffee and cake with visitors and well-wishers, but she also continued a regular habit to go for a walk around the retirement complex, which took her about 20 minutes.


“I walk a lot, not every day. I miss the odd day, but I walk most days,” she said. “I like to walk. I now have a walker, but it works well. I'm very comfortable with it.”
She had to start using a walker after recovering from a broken hip about a year ago, but it did not discourage her from going on her regular walks.
“The thing is, I like to do it and I can do it,” she said. “It doesn't hurt, but I need a little support with my walker.”
She even danced on Dec. 29, when family and friends came to Swift Current from across the country for a large gathering to celebrate her pending 100th birthday.
“It's been such a good life,” she said. “ I've been healthy, and I haven't had any bad luck really, except losing my husband was a tough one, but you survive.”
She believes her regular walks in the fresh outdoor air made a difference to keep her healthy over the years and she always have a positive outlook on life.
“I think about the good stuff that's happened, not the bad,” she said.
She enjoys a happy lifestyle at Riverview Village Estates, where she has been a resident for two years. She rarely misses the frequent musical performances and she plays bridge every Monday.
“I played bridge a lot in my life, and it's a good game,” she said. “I enjoy it.”
She was born on Jan. 8, 1918 on a farm near the village of Welwyn in Saskatchewan. It is located northeast of Moosomin, close to the Manitoba border.
“We were two and a half miles from the town, and I went to Grade 12 in that school,” she said. “We were lucky, we had a Grade 12. ... I finished school early and I had to wait until I was 19 to go into nurses training.”
She went to Yorkton to train as a nurse, where she met her future husband, Paul Nodge. She finished her nursing training in 1940 and they also got married that year. For their honeymoon they went to Niagara Falls and they also went to see the world famous Dionne quintuplets, who grew up in a compound with a playground where the public could see them from behind one-way screens.
“They were just ordinary little girls who were all playing together,” she recalled. “They were fenced in, that was the only thing that was different.”
Marie's husband was an auto bodyman and an entrepreneur who was always looking for new opportunities. They came to Swift Current in 1941.
“My husband was trying to get established and he was kind of a jack of all trades, but quite a successful enterpriser,” she said.
Initially he worked in housing construction and built 13 houses in Swift Current as well as a few commercial buildings. Thereafter they started a second-hand store on Central Avenue, which proved to be a good business to operate during the Second World War.
“That was during the war, when you couldn't buy new stuff, and you could sell anything you could put your hands on,” she said. “So we were busy.”
Paul started Nodge Manufacturing in Swift Current in 1945. It originally manufactured agricultural parts, but the business evolved over the years and now operates as a full-service agricultural parts store.
“It was quite exciting,” she said about that enterprise. “It was quite challenging and you had to work hard. We were very busy.”
They sold this business to an employee in 1955, but many years later the company was owned again by Nodge descendants when Marie's two daughters and their spouses took over Nodge Manufacturing and operated it for about two decades until they sold their shares to the current owners.
Paul became involved in real estate in the years after they sold Nodge Manufacturing and he operated Nodge Real Estate in the city.
Marie raised five children, three boys and two girls, and she was active in the community. For over 40 years she was a member of the Ladies Investment Club in Swift Current, she served on the hospital board for 10 years and she curled a lot. She also kept bees on the family's hobby farm just east of the city.
She and Paul enjoyed travelling. They owned different single-engine aircraft over the years and both obtained their pilot's license.
“I thought if I'm going to fly with my husband, I better got to know how to land that airplane,” she said. “So that was the original beginning.”
Their flights resulted in some memorable family trips across North America. They flew to Florida, and they made several trips to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade. There were flying trips to Texas and to Mazatlan, Mexico, and various Canadian destinations, including Vancouver and Montreal. Some northern trips took them across the Arctic Circle. Sometimes the family camped under the wing of their aircraft and slept in a stained old tent.
Marie and Paul's biggest trip in their small airplane took place in 1962, when they flew all the way to South America until they reached Buenos Aires, Argentina. They left their children in the care of friends and undertook this memorable trip with another couple from Swift Current.
On their way back they had to land in a banana patch somewhere in Ecuador due to bad weather, but they did not receive a friendly welcome.
“We landed and we stayed overnight in the banana patch,” she said. “It was an American company, and we thought we were not going to have any problems, but the police were there. We had to report in the afternoon and they kept us almost until evening. They didn't know if we were Russian spies or drug peddlers or what we might be.”
They belonged to the Flying Farmers, an organization for airplane owners. There were regular get togethers and the members held fly-in breakfasts. Marie was selected as the Queen of the Flying Farmers for 1958/59. At her 100th birthday party in December the family had an old photo of her wearing her crown.
Marie is thankful for the many beautiful memories from her active and busy life with her husband and family.
“I've had a good life and an interesting life,” she said. “I was very busy a lot of the time, but it worked out well.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer

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