Wylie woman celebrating 99 years of life Nov. 28
Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
By Judy Truesdell
Wylie resident Juanita L. Arnold is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, loves sports, has walked on wooden sidewalks in high-top shoes, has ridden segregated buses, and “raised a child as a single parent before it was acceptable,” according to her great-niece, Nancy Hansen, with whom she lives.
Mrs. Arnold will turn 99 years old Nov. 28 and will celebrate a lifetime that has seen the world move from “buggies to
She was born in Texas in 1911 and said she remembers when her father’s teaching salary was cut in half during the Depression. She also remembers that, when men needing a little help would come to her parents’ back door, her mother would fill a jar with milk, wrap some biscuits in newspaper “and clean flour sacks” and send them on their way – but not before getting their parents’ name and address so she could send them a “penny post card” assuring them that their son was all right, that she had “fixed them a little lunch,” and, at least this night, they had something to eat.
“It’s the little things in life that help people,” she said.
Mrs. Arnold loved to dance and, at age 15, going behind her father’s back (he was school superintendent and a minister) she entered a Charleston contest when a “medicine show” came to town. She won that contest; the prize was $5.
She said she looked at the Sears catalogue long and hard before she entered, imagining all she could buy with $5.
She met her future husband, Vernon, on the football field. She wasn’t leading cheers with pompoms or playing the clarinet – she was playing football for DeQueen High School in Arkansas, and he was her coach.
The two of them danced everywhere they could, often going to Bog Spring, Ark., to dance while Bob Wills’ band played.
They were particularly good at the foxtrot and often won competitions. Sometimes the prize was a ham or other groceries, welcome rewards during the Depression.
Their marriage ended, possibly because he couldn’t keep up with such a little whirlwind. “He just didn’t believe in work,” she said. “And he wasn’t as … energetic as I was!”
She moved to Dallas in the mid ’30s, a single parent to her daughter. Over the years, Mrs. Arnold kept her interest in politics, working in her district’s polling places. But she also held some jobs that were considered “men’s work” at the time.
She was employed at Higginbotham-Bailey, a Dallas dry goods dealer, packing orders. “I made $15 a week,” she said.
During World War II, she became a real-life Rosie the Riveter, working at North American Aviation, a company with a plant in Dallas, known for its manufacture of such fighter planes as the BC-1, the T-6 Texas trainer and the P-51 Mustang.
“At her job interview with North American-Dallas, she was told all they had open was a multi-drill press operator,” Mrs. Hansen said. “She said, ‘I’ll take it!’ When the interviewer asked why she thought she could do the work, she responded, ‘You just back your ears and do what has to be done.’”
For Mrs. Arnold, doing “what has to be done” involved training for six months on how to operate the drill press.
Admitting that she “wasn’t a glamour girl,” she said she rode home each evening in an oil-soaked jumpsuit and had to place protective coverings on the car seat of the gentleman with whom she rode to work.
“To this day, she still has her North American toolbox,” Mrs. Hansen said. “She was making shrouds for P-51 Mustang fighter planes, running a four-drill press unit on a 3-foot-wide metal plate. These were considered ‘hot’ parts; England could not get them fast enough.”
She received several U.S. War Department honors for the precision with which she made her part of the jets; on one occasion, she had to take over for the man working (for $3.25 an hour) next to her. She could do the meticulous work better than he could, she said, even though her hourly wage was less than a dollar.
“I didn’t rush; I just worked at a steady pace,” she said. “We couldn’t go too fast; were using magnesium, and we poured an emulsion over the parts to keep them from catching fire when drilled.”
When she left her drill press behind, Mrs. Arnold managed Dr. C.T. Peek’s dental office in the Mercantile Bank building in downtown Dallas from 1947 until 1979. After her retirement, she spent many years gardening and looking in on housebound neighbors. She remains an avid sports and political enthusiast. “We finally made her stop mowing her yard when she was 92,” Mrs. Hansen said.
Mrs. Arnold said she thinks President Barack Obama is a great, intelligent president who reminds her a bit of FDR, whose Fireside Chats she listened to on the family radio.
She’s lived in the Dallas area for 67 years, including Oak Cliff, Lakewood and now Wylie, where she lives with her great-niece, who is planning “a surprise” for her great-aunt’s 99th birthday.
She watches sports and politics on the TV that’s in her room; it sits on top of the blonde wood cabinet that holds the 12-inch Philco set she’s had since ’47. “The first program we ever saw on it was the Notre Dame-SMU game,” she recalled.
“There were 27 people crowded around that little television, and we watched the game over and over again to see if SMU would win it this time!”
Her favorite team now is the Longhorns of the University of Texas; she said she thinks UT has the best coaches who “look after those boys good.”
So what’s the secret for a woman who’s lived a rich, full life – to at least 99? “I tried to do the best I could, every day. I usually find some happiness in everything” she said. “My mother used to say I bounced out of bed every morning like a rubber ball.
“And we also had those good Democrats to run the country.”
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Monumental celebration Wednesday, June 02, 2010 Those who serve or have served the country were honored at a Memorial ... Smith Librarys summer reading program begins June 1 Friday, May 28, 2010 The first day to pick up a Smith Public Library Summer Reading Club lo... Searching for a Star semifinals, finale this week Thursday, May 27, 2010 The fourth annual Searching for a Star competition finishes up this we... "I once was lost, but now I'm found" Wednesday, May 26, 2010 So LOST is over and they were dead all along. I wont pretend to unders... Motorcyclists urge drivers to look three times Saturday, May 22, 2010 At the May 11 Wylie City Council meeting, Mayor Eric Hogue read a proc... Special Olympics golfers go chicken Friday, May 21, 2010 Big smiles and big hearts will be on the menu Friday, May 21, at the W... Watkins Elementary ceremonially leveled Thursday, May 20, 2010 Members of the Eastfork Masonic Lodge, district officials and friends ... Councilmembers take oath of office Wednesday, May 19, 2010 Wylie Council incumbents Dave Goss, Place 1, and Kathy Spillyards, Pla... New Wylie ISD trustees take oath Tuesday, May 18, 2010 Justice of the Peace Terry Douglas administers the oath of office to n... WildRide pedals through Wylie Saturday, May 15, 2010 Methodist Richardson Medical Center Foundation's WildRide! Against Can... Realtors' Volunteer Day aids Wylie neighborhood Saturday, May 15, 2010 With the burned out shell of the house at 508 Stone Rd. as a reminder ... Fourth annual Searching for a Star competition begins Friday, May 14, 2010 Ballard School of the Performing Arts located in Historical Downtown W... Community Christian Car Center? Friday, May 14, 2010 Recently, Community Care Center Director Raymond Cooper might have bee... Teens learn high cost of drunk driving Wednesday, May 12, 2010 Though everyone knew it was a re-enactment, the sirens speeding their ... Unburying history Wednesday, May 05, 2010 Not many know about Shiloh Cemetery, hidden back behind some homes on ... Father of Wylies Angel grateful Tuesday, May 04, 2010 Gerren Isgriggs father, Sgt. Jerry Isgrigg, said in a phone interview ... It's pedal power on Ballard Street Sunday Friday, April 30, 2010 The Wylie Downtown Merchant Associations annual Pedal Car Race will be... Candidate forum set for Thursday Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Voters will have a chance to ask questions of local city council and s... Grandmother charged with killing 6-year-old Saturday, April 24, 2010 Late Friday, April 23, the Collin County Child Abuse Task Force and Wy... Community ponies up to help Equest after theft Wednesday, April 21, 2010 Attempts to contact Equest by phone since their break-in April 10 have... Reward offered for info on child's body found near Lake Lavon Wednesday, April 21, 2010 A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the posit... Photo of deceased boy released; police ask for public's help identifying him Friday, April 16, 2010 At a press conference at Childrens Advocacy Center of Collin County Fr... Results of the 43rd annual Wylie Livestock Show & Sale Wednesday, April 14, 2010 Kutter Poole and his grand champion steer, Popcorn, in the show ring a... Annual singing competition filling up Friday nights Friday, April 09, 2010 Searching for a Star 2010 has begun. The youth singing contest continu... First day Show & Sale winners named Thursday, April 08, 2010 Grand Champion in the Food category, Taylor Willman. Taylor is an eigh... FFA, 4-H students ready for Show time Wednesday, April 07, 2010 The annual Wylie FFA and 4-H Show and Sale begins today; it features l... Mayor, city manager honored by business publication Monday, April 05, 2010 Collin County Business Press has named Wylie Mayor Eric Hogue and City... Gas tanks being unearthed; two-story building planned for site Wednesday, March 31, 2010 Hazco Hazardous Substance Specialists employees are removing gasoline ... The Bunny's Back! Saturday, March 27, 2010 The Wylie Women's League annual Egg Hunt brought the Easter Bunny to O... Cancer fund calendar features local artwork Thursday, March 25, 2010 Emma Cruz of Wylie, 11-year-old daughter of Emma Espindola and Alejand... Weather or not its spring in North Texas Wednesday, March 24, 2010 After a week of 70-degree days, then came a day of heavy rain. The nex... Municipal artwork connects with community Friday, March 19, 2010 Thanks to the efforts of the Wylie Public Arts Advisory Board and thei... Four-hour standoff ends with escape of suspect; later apprehended Thursday, March 18, 2010 Domestic violence and a suspected barricade ended with the escape of t... Sisters give Wylie some sugar Tuesday, March 16, 2010 Monica Whitaker does the decorating, her sister Melanie Borges handles... Helping Haiti Friday, March 12, 2010 As he sat on the steps of the Haitian hospital, waiting for the ride t... Sanctuary sues water district over land price Wednesday, March 10, 2010 The Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney an... Local Scouts set food drive record Friday, March 05, 2010 The Wylie National Guard Armory became a sea of yellow bags, as thousa... Common good Wednesday, March 03, 2010 Wylie High School hurdler Iffy Agoula helped his team capture the top ... Reading is FUNdraising at Harrison Intermediate Friday, February 26, 2010 School hosts guest readers at money-making event... Wylie woman shuttling Olympic dignitaries Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Linda Morris of Wylie is a bus driver for charter company, Red Carpe... Preparation a shot in the arm for medical corps Saturday, February 20, 2010 Pamela Nishimoto, Collin County public outreach educator, looks on as ... Topping it off Friday, February 19, 2010 The city of Wylie hosted an appreciation lunch this week for the worke... Snow show Wednesday, February 17, 2010 Grayson Housley and his dad made a sled from a laundry basket to take ... Athletic director honored at reception Tuesday, February 16, 2010 Wylie ISD held a reception for Athletic Director Mark Ball Feb. 15.... Winter Wonderland Saturday, February 13, 2010 Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Send your weather photos to... Love at work Friday, February 12, 2010 Municipal employees make connection ... Birds of a feather ready to flock together for WHS funds Wednesday, February 10, 2010 Trying to think of just the right tribute to pay to your favorite teac... Holding Court Saturday, February 06, 2010 After three successful trials at the Crowley Courthouse in Dallas, the... Wylie grad named AD Wednesday, February 05, 2010 Burnett principal to take reins of athletic program... Business is communitys success, mayor says Wednesday, February 03, 2010 The Wylie Chamber of Commerce celebrated excellence in the business co... Honoring Excellence Wednesday, February 03, 2010 The Wylie Chamber of Commerce celebrated excellence in the business co... Chamber honors excellence Monday, February 01, 2010 The Wylie Chamber held its annual community banquet Jan. 30 recognizin... Wylie FFA members wins Stock Show Calf Scramble Friday, January 29, 2010 Bailey Smith, a Wylie FFA member, was among the winners in the Calf Sc... Leadership Wylie Friday, January 29, 2010 Members of the Leadership Wylie class recently toured the new Wylie Mu... State bound Thursday, January 28, 2010 Wylie High School culinary arts team members Logan Shillington, left, ... Do you hear that train a-comin? Wednesday, January 27, 2010 Workers installed channelizing devices at the Marble Street railroad c... Higher Education Center gives Collin students four-year options Friday, January 22, 2010 The new Collin Higher Education Center is located at 3452 Spur 399 in ... Methodist Richardson earns Chest Pain Center Accreditation Thursday, January 21, 2010 Methodist Richardson Medical Center is now an Accredited Chest Pain Ce... So, Wylie, you think you can dance? Wednesday, January 20, 2010 2006 So You Think You Can Dance winner Benji Schwimmer rocked at the M... At the Library Wednesday, January 20, 2010 Friends of the Library President Jerry Smith participates in a library... Quiet zones going up at railroad crossings Friday, January 15, 2010 Workers are installing road barriers as part of quiet zones at 12 rail... TV dance contest winner teaches in Wylie Thursday, January 14, 2010 2006 "So You Think You Can Dance" winner Benji Schwimmer and... Wylie boy shares warmth this holiday Wednesday, January 13, 2010 When many boys and girls were busy making their lists for Santa this h... Show and tails Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Wylie FFAs Ashley Thomas and her goats were named Grand Champion Supre... Rain, sun, sleet, snow Wednesday, January 06, 2010 Chavonne Lilly takes a break from the girls day she was sharing with s... Curtain falls on 2009; part 2 Thursday, December 31, 2009 Principle players take places for 2010... Curtain falls on 2009 Wednesday, December 30, 2009 Principle players take places for 2010... Wylie has its own chocolatier Tuesday, December 22, 2009 Visions of sugar plums...... Santa Claus is coming to town! Wednesday, December 23, 2009 We hope he, and you, enjoy this years Letters to Santa as much as we d... Original downtown merchants Friday, December 18, 2009 Mary Stoneberg, left, and Peg Mason portray food merchants in a Bethle... They need homes for Christmas Wednesday, December 16, 2009 If you want a hippopotamus for Christmaswould you settle for a dog or ... Groundbreaking held for 10th elementary school Tuesday, December 15, 2009 Members of Wylie ISD Board of Trustees, along with students from Cox, ... Order on the court Friday, December 11, 2009 Its Christmastime in the city Wednesday, December 09, 2009 Weather, arts festival, parade welcome season... Christmas parades through Wylie Saturday, December 05, 2009 Christmas officially came to Wylie Saturday with the arrival of Jolly ... Farmersville company turning trash to fuel Friday, December 04, 2009 Adam and Sharon Allard with their waste-converting ethanol machine.... Shoppers rush home with their treasures Thursday, December 03, 2009 Robin Reininger, left, and Chelsea Griffin check out the kissing cryst... Glass artist moves to downtown Wylie Tuesday, December 01, 2009 A boy poses in front of one of the windows created in the Capitol buil... Exotic pet lost in St. Paul area Sunday, November 29, 2009 The publics help is requested in locating an exotic animal on the loos... Hair care Wednesday, November 25, 2009 3 years, 13 inches later, 10-year-old gives tresses to Locks of Love... Rain contributes to fatalities on 205 Wednesday, November 25, 2009 Head-on collision kills three from Nevada, injures three others... City putting stars in youngsters eyes Tuesday, November 24, 2009 Mayor Eric Hogue selects a tag from a Reach for a Star tree.... Three die in Hwy. 205 crash Friday, November 20, 2009 Hydroplaning on a rain-slicked road most likely caused a crash that re... Seven-hour barricade ends in death Friday, November 20, 2009 SWAT team members take positions on a rooftop during last weeks barric... Community looks for answers following slaying Wednesday, November 18, 2009 Late Saturday night, Nov. 7, Wylie carpenter Jonathan Bird, age 28, wa... Chamber lunch begins annual care week Friday, November 13, 2009 Despite concerns about the economy, health care and the bottom line, m... Cowboy encourages students to play Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was at Akin Elementary School to... Young artists imagine Wylie in 2020 Saturday, November 07, 2009 As part of National Community Planning Month, and for the third consec... WF-R celebrates century of service Wednesday, October 28, 2009 Firefighters Brandon Storm and Michael Ahlemeier enter the FBC Wylie S... Gateway readies for new facility, FBC Wylie opens event center Tuesday, October 27, 2009 Two Wylie churches have recently taken steps to expand their presence ... Artifacts uncovered near new civic complex Sunday, October 25, 2009 Archeologists are working to catalog, display items found near Muddy C... Technology falls in Harrison Intermediate students laps Wednesday, October 21, 2009 Pilot program provides computers for fifth-graders... Harrison students part of Capitol rally Friday, October 16, 2009 Through a Texas state grant, three Harrison Intermediate School fifth-... Habitat journey began with single step Thursday, September 10, 2009 New homeowner urges others to never give up.Some might say the jou... Welcome Home! Tuesday, August 25, 2009 Trevor Young awaits in downtown Wylie for the arrival of buses carryin... Private school finds country home Thursday, August 21, 2009 Henry and Roz Garland held a living estate auction Aug. 15 to empty th... Cox third-grader given gift of sound Wednesday, August 18, 2009 When Wylie 9-year-old Elijah Shaddox was only 5 weeks old, his parents... Name of fatality accident victim released Monday, April 20, 2009 Mary Sue Carlisle, 79, of Wylie was killed in a traffic accident on Hw... Accident closes Hwy. 78 at Ballard Avenue Monday, April 20, 2009 An accident closed Hwy. 78 at Ballard Avenue Monday morning. ... Car crashes on Ballard Avenue Saturday, April 11, 2009 A six-vehicle car crash in downtown Wylie Saturday afternoon caused po... Friendly Savages Wednesday, March 04, 2009 Representatives of Lockheed Martin and other vendors and city dignitar... Curtain falls on 2009; part 3 Friday, January 01, 2009 f Hogue has the lead role in city government, Superintendent Dr. H. Jo... School officials given more disciplinary discretion Monday, November 03, 2008 Wylie ISD has implemented a change in policy that will give school off...