During the afternoon of Sept. 6, Hazel Bahn of Belview sat at a table outside and talked about what was happening on the farm with her family.
Were they chopping silage yet, she queried.
Bahn, who spent a significant part of her life on the farm, knew what was supposed to be happening and when people were supposed to be doing it.
The conversation she was having that day was with three members of her family – one of her sons, a granddaughter and her granddaughter’s husband.
While talking shop became part of the discussion, that was not the reason they had come to visit her.
They were there to celebrate with Hazel. That day she turned 105 years old.
In other years, more of Bahn’s family would have visited on her birthday, but the realities of coronavirus meant that all of that had to be altered this year.
With five children, 20 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great grandchildren a birthday party for Hazel becomes a big event.
A couple of years ago, with the assistance of family, Hazel Bahn compiled a biography of her life which she entitled “Country Roads.” That was made much easier by the fact that Hazel has been keeping a journal for years.
In her memoirs, Hazel recalls moving around a lot – living in the Boyd, Murdock, Paynesville, Danvers and Wood Lake. While Hazel attended public school at various locations, she ultimately graduated from high school in Wood Lake.
While she did not spend a lot of time in Wood Lake as a student, she appreciated being part of a smaller class – from 90 students in Benson to 10 in Wood Lake – as it gave her the chance to get to know her classmates.
After high school, Hazel moved to Blue Earth where she worked for an aunt, but recognizing she needed to find a better job she applied to attend Normal Teacher Training in Redwood Falls.
“I lived in one room at a home there. I didn’t get home to Wood Lake very often. The only thing I could afford to eat was boiled oatmeal, which is what I lived on,” wrote Hazel, and oatmeal continues to be a regular part of her daily diet.
Hazel started her teaching career working with 30 students in Grades 1-8.
Hazel’s teaching career came to an end when she married Herman Bahn. The couple began farm life and certainly had ups and downs, including having their first summer crop destroyed by hail.
“We were very poor,” recalled Hazel.
In their third year of marriage, Herman’s brother bought the house and farm where they were living, so the family, that included two sons, moved in with Herman’s grandparents.
Ultimately, Herman’s grandfather bought another house the family moved into.
Herman continued to farm his grandfather’s land along with other land they rented.
Living on the farm, Hazel said, was a good thing, as their family grew very close. Hazel is very proud of her children, Herman, Jr., Stanley, Donna, Howard and Cynthia, and her faith was an important part of her life. Devotions were done at every meal morning, noon and night.
Hazel comes from a long line of tough women, as her mother lived to be 99.
This past January, Hazel broke her leg, and that required surgery. Family members wondered if she would survive. She did and has fully recovered from it.
Life has been very good, agreed Hazel, and she has seen a lot in her life, adding it really does not seem like 105 years have gone by.
– Submitted photo