Posted 7/12/16 (Tue)
By Carrie Sandstrom
It’s strange, Thora Bloom says, to look back and realize how much she’s lived through. The 100-year-old celebrated her birthday Saturday at St. Luke’s Care Center, surrounded by family and folks she’s “met along the way.”
Bloom has lived in Divide County her whole life, farming for most of it. As the years passed, she says, the work got lighter and folks didn’t have to work so hard -- people didn’t have to light a fire to cook or haul water to clean clothes on a washboard.
“I remember when we had to hitch the buggy to the horses if we wanted to go somewhere,” Bloom said. “Now we can just go in a car.”
As a teenager, Bloom and her sister would go out in a cook car, a wagon that would serve as a portable kitchen, and prepare meals to feed the folks out threshing. Out of that wagon, they cooked five meals a day, including breakfast, dinner, supper and two lunches. She says she would have to get up at 4 a.m. They baked fresh bread each day. From their station in the cook car, they could feed a crew of 25.
Bloom married her husband, Sam, when she was 20. They met in grade school and grew up living just a mile and a half apart. Shortly after marrying, the two took over the Alkabo general store and ran it for 20 years.
They sold groceries and hardware. Sam did all the butchering. On Saturday nights, when the town would have dances, they would keep the store open late so people could pick up groceries afterward on their way home.
“I didn’t like it to start with,” Bloom said. “I guess I got tired of it. It was hard work.”
In 1958, they went back to farming, which she liked better, and Sam was elected to the legislature. During legislative sessions, they would rent a house and move to Bismarck, their youngest, Marj, who was born in 1958, in tow.
When the legislators were in sessions, Bloom and the other wives would go and watch. The days were long, she says, but they weren’t boring. In the eight years Sam was in the legislature, Bloom hosted at least two teas at the governor’s mansion. It was an exciting time, she says. She always loved to entertain.
Bloom has three children, and growing up, they were put to work. They would help with the farming and tend to the animals. For fun, they would go fishing, but Bloom said that was about it. She has seven grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
Later in life, Bloom and her husband, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 93, stayed busy. Although, Bloom admits, after moving to Crosby in the 1980s, their schedules were filled with more fun things, keeping active with bowling, card games, volunteering and Sons of Norway.
Thora and Sam were active in the Crosby Threshing Show. They would work in the museum and house people who needed a place to stay. Bloom would work a shift in the kitchen and Sam would take tickets. During the year, they had a key to the museum, and they would take people out to see it.
Now, Bloom says her favorite thing to do is see her family, and she FaceTimes them regularly on her iPad.
But, despite celebrating a milestone birthday, Bloom says things really haven’t changed that much.
“I don’t know if it feels any different for me,” Bloom said. “Except I can’t get up and run around as easily.”