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Mrs. Cantrell, Matriarch of Richland Springs

By Floyd Miller



When God gives us life and sets us on our journey, we have no idea where it may take us and for how long. God has blessed Mrs. Pearl Cantrell to see the sun rise and set for over 102 years.Mrs. Cantrell has seen so much, I’d like to highlight a few things that were reflected in 1908.Here are some statistics for the Year 1908:The average life expectancy was 47 years. Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub. Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower ! {{more}}The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour. The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year. More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME. Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press, AND they were listed by the government as ‘substandard.’ Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee was fifteen cents a pound. Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo. Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason. Five leading causes of death were: 1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke The American flag had 45 stars. The population of Las Vegas , Nevada , was only 30!!!! Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn’t been invented yet. There was no Mother’s or Father’s Day’s to celebrate, but the children cared for, and treated them with more respect than they do today. Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6 percent of them had graduated from high school, even more never went further than the 8th grade. To graduate the 8th grade they had to pass a Final Exam like THIS. Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said ‘Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact– a perfect guardian of health.’ Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or some form of domestic help. There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A Since that time Mrs. Cantrell has lived under 19 different presidents, and I’d bet this is not the first someone say, “This is the worst one ever” or “This country can’t last.” She lived through the great depression, wars, and her own personal hardships. A great tragedy for Mrs. Cantrell was losing her first husband at a goat roping event when he was only 42 and she was 38. He dies when his horse fell on him. She was left to raise 7 children/ In order to care for her children she worked in the fields picking cotton and operating a hay baler. She also worked as a waitress at Doc’s Café in Richland Springs. She made $3.00 a day plus tips.She married Henry Hilton “Doc” Cantrell a few years later but he also dies at a young age of 52.The work days for Mrs. Cantrell have been over for quite some time. However, she still cleans the house, driver her care, and makes a quilt each year to auction off at her birthday party. Mrs. Cantrell mowed her lawn up to age 100 and danced to age 101.Did I mention that Mrs. Cantrell is a celebrity? She is the only person that has a three day party in Richland Springs, Texas. Her children started celebrating her birthday when she turned 70 and has continued to do so. It is now a birthday that is celebrated by the whole town. On Friday night it’s mostly family members. On Saturday there’s plenty of food and dancing for the community. 180 were in attendance at this year’s event. On Sunday morning the family has breakfast together and then head to their respective homes. Mrs. Cantrell is a member of the Richland Springs Church of Christ and attends as much as she can.Mrs. Cantrell was named Coming Home Queen at the 2009 Homecoming Football game and Richland Springs. The coach gave her a special parking place several years ago. She attends most of the home games. She does not drive at night, however someone will chauffer her to the game and she will sit in the car and watch it.She has 6 surviving children. Ruth Kruger in San Angelo, Billy Allen in Cushing, TX, Emmit Allen in Detroit, MI, Lou Larson in Sugarland, TX, Faye Currie in San Sabo, TX, and Anno Richards in Abilene, TX; the youngest. A son, Robert Allen, is deceased.I hope to celebrate with Mrs. Cantrell on her 103rd birthday next year if it’s God’s will.

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