Rhinelander’s Millie Tucker nears 100
Millie Tucker is looking forward to a big day coming up in August. That’s when she is going to turn 100 years old. “All my family will be coming to celebrate that day,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.”
This kind and gentle woman was born Aug. 15, 1913. Millie has lived all over the country throughout her life, and she can recall with remarkable clarity little details about each one of these places. She remains independent, living by herself, and loves spending time at the Oneida County Senior Center.
Millie has seen plenty in her lifetime. She was born in Sparta and when she was four she moved with her parents, Ben and Alionette, to Montana. Her father traveled there first to establish a homestead, and then Millie and her mother came a few months later by train. They were met at the station by Ben, who was driving a buckboard wagon pulled by two mules. “He was late then told us the mules had to be hobbled and sometimes they were hard to catch,” said Millie.
Their homestead was on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. “There were no trees and our home was a sod shanty,” said Millie. “It had no roof or windows. It never rained so a roof wasn’t important.” Later the family moved to a one-room house with a loft for sleeping.
Eventually the family came back to Wisconsin, but they continued to move, always trying to find a place to settle. “My dad told us he had wanderlust,” said Mille. “He just liked living in different places.”
When Millie was nine, her sister Viola, was born. “I was always asking my mother for a new doll,” she chuckled. “I wanted one that could walk with me. When Viola was born I was a little disappointed she couldn’t walk right away. I was so innocent back then but I loved my sister. We never fought and were always very close.”
Millie never did graduate from high school, but instead got married after meeting Harold Tucker at a party. “My father always told me he wouldn’t let me date until I was 18 years old,” she said. “But I met Harold when I was 17. Harold was 23 and one day he came to my house and asked my dad if he could take me to a movie. Dad agreed and from then we dated.” Their engagement was a short one.”We met in January and were married in August,” said Millie.
Harold spent a few years in the Navy during WW II. The couple rented a garage from her parents while Harold served in the military. By then they had their sons, Bob and David. When Harold returned to Sparta the family purchased a 160-acre farm and spent the good portion of their married life there, raising dairy cows and crops. “It was sort of a rundown place but we fixed all the fences and we milked 13 cows by hand,” she said.
The invention and then distribution of electricity and even the invention of the automobile didn’t faze Millie much. “I was always one to go with the flow,” she said. “I think the fact we moved around so much made me that way. You had to learn to adjust pretty fast no matter where you were.”
One invention she never has taken a liking to is computers. “I wouldn’t even know how to turn one on,” she laughed. “But they have really influenced our world.”
As she looks forward to her party in a few weeks, Millie can’t really pinpoint why she has lived to be 100, although she attributes some of her good fortune to genetics and a clean lifestyle. “I never was much for drinking,” she said. “I tried smoking when I was younger but never really got into that. I think the reason why I got to 100 is because the people on my mother’s side of the family lived a long time. My mother, aunts and grandmother lived into their 90s and beyond.”
One thing Millie does miss is many of her family and friends who have passed over the years. “That’s really the hard part of getting to be this age,” she said. “I miss a lot of my family and friends.”
Millie moved to Rhinelander four years ago to be closer to family and she has found Rhinelander a good place to live. “Everyone is so friendly and I have lots of friends here,” she said. She does lament the fact that Rhinelander is short on shopping malls however. “That’s one of my favorite things to do,” she said. “I love to go shopping. Still do.”