Viola Soderstrom, a Turlock native born Dec. 20, 1915, can arguably say she’s seen it all.
Soderstrom is celebrating her 100th birthday on Sunday and reflected on her life and the journey she has traveled.
“We moved to Turlock when I was 3 years old,” she said. “My dad had been drafted and [her parents] sold all of our belongings. My dad had visited Turlock as a teenager coming out with his mother for health reasons and was going to send us out there while he was in the war—as it turned out, the war ended.”
She saw the war end in 1918, the stock market crash in 1929, and World War II begin in 1939.
Despite the bad times over the decades, Soderstrom (born Laughman) recalls the good days that most old-time Turlock residents can relate to.
“We lived on a farm next to my grandparent’s house and we used to walk over there every day,” she said. “We would play basketball and croquet as a family."
She can recall having plumbing and electricity installed in her home, her mom always cooking and baking. Soderstrom laughed when remembering the first telephone number she had.
“It was #61F11 and we had to call an operator to be connected to the call,” she said. “But I wasn’t allowed to use the phone as a girl, anyway.”
Soderstrom remembers Central Valley summer days before central air conditioning.
“It would be so hot that our dad would drive us out to the canal and that’s where I learned to swim,” she said.
Soderstrom met her husband Emmanuel “Mannie” Soderstrom at a Turlock football game on a double date with her sister Sharlie.
“All it took was that one date and we were together ever after,” she said.
Mannie Soderstrom was part of the volunteer fire department in Turlock, at one time owned the Golden Rule Ice and Fuel business and worked at Beckman’s Stock Exchange office when it first opened in Turlock.
Mannie and Viola Soderstrom had two daughters, Kay and Shirlee; eventually sharing six grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and 10 great great grandchildren.
Her grandkids said she will always be fondly known as the grandma who put oranges in their Christmas stockings from her backyard tree, fresh walnuts in a bowl with a nut cracker, her love of maple donuts from the Main Street bakery, always talking on the phone and laughing with friends, and calling everyone “darling.”