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Centralia’s Woodward turning 100, still has music in her heart

Posted on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 at 8:52 pm

Alma Woodward’s blue eyes have seen a lot.

Hardworking grandparents keeping her and themselves alive off what they could raise on a Boot heel farm outside Cape Girardeau, the tail of a plow horse before it kicked her in the chin, and a whole nation gathered around its radios as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation on her 18th birthday to tell the nation of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Woodward was born December 7, 1923.

“My grandparents raised me,” Woodward said, sitting at a table in the Heritage Hall dining room.

Listen below to Alma playing her harmonica.

Things were more different than some might imagine.

“We lived on the farm, if we hadn’t lived on the farm we’d have probably starved,” she said of a time when unemployment was 25 percent. “That was back in hard times, many years ago… We had cows, we had hogs at different times, sometimes we had them, sometimes we didn’t, we had chickens. We raised a garden and a strawberry patch. Them was hard times, that was when I was young.”

Back then, she said her favorite meal was home-fresh milk and cornbread.

Hard times meant being able to provide what you could for yourself when you were able.

“My grandmother taught me how to sew, so I made my own clothes,” Woodward said. “She helped of course, but I had it easier than lots of kids because they were there to teach me and I learned. “

Even though times were hard, she says her most vivid memory was happiness.

“Just how happy I was, because they were good to me. And I was good to them, because I worked. When I was a teenager I worked behind the horses in the field. Back then we couldn’t afford tractors. Nothing but horses. And I worked with them… And one kicked me and almost killed me when I was eight years old. I’ve still got the scar under my chin here.”

That was on a different farm, the grandparents, Della and James Bass, having moved to a farm between Bowling Green and Eolia.

Fast forward a decade and Alma and her grandparents were on their way to a country baseball game “between the boys from Edgewood and the boys from Knob.”

They saw a lanky young man, well over six-feet tall walking alongside the gravel road, ball glove in hand.

They gave him a ride and that was how Alma met her future husband of 70 years, Homer Woodward. They married in April, 1942.

“We just talked to each other…

For the complete article, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.