Senior Spotlight

Beverly Miller of Plains

 

Shannon Brown

Beverly Miller

Beverly Longoria Miller, age 95 of Plains, was born October 26, 1928, in the small town of Malone, Washington. At age seven her family moved to Seattle where her maternal grandmother lived. The population of Seattle in 1920 was 315,312. "At around 300,000 I knew my neighborhood. The houses were close together. I walked to school and everywhere. Now I don't know that I would want to walk there. I am more fearful of it," Miller said. Now the population of Seattle is over 700,000.

Miller said that Seattle was more than a steel mill town back then. It had the Boeing aircraft factory, shipyards and shipping center, naval air base and a small army base. "There was a lot going on that an enemy would want to destroy but Japan didn't have the ability to attack during World War II," Miller said. To be on the safe side, she recalls there were blackouts and block wardens to make sure no lights were shown at night. Cars could not be driven at night. Miller said living in Seattle during the war was a whole lot different from the country.

When Miller was in her 30s, the Space Needle was completed for the 1962 World's Fair. "I would often go to the waterfront as a kid with my father, to Pike Place Market about a mile from where the Space Needle was built. Back then, wagons and trucks would pull up to the market with their produce to sell. It was very different back then," she reminisced.

"Dad was working in the sawmills in Seattle. We didn't have much money. We had to leave Malone because the sawmill there burned down," Miller said. She recalled living in Malone where her paternal grandmother raised chickens and sold eggs. "The cause of the Malone mill burning was probably due to arson. Back then those things happened to collect insurance. Nobody could prove otherwise," she said.

"During the war Dad had a job on the waterfront. He cleaned the insides of ships, probably the bilge from below decks. He used to walk from where we lived inland to downtown asking for work. When the war hit, places started calling him to come work," Miller said.

"I was 12 in 1941 before Pearl Harbor. The steel mill in the valley needed to be protected. A barge with balloons was tethered nearby the mill to protect it from enemy aircraft. I heard that there had been an enemy submarine in the area," Miller recalled. She was sadly reminded of a classmate in high school who had to be excused during class discussions because her brother had died in the war .

While she was living in the Seattle area Miller married her first husband and had three children. "My oldest is my daughter who is 69. She lives in Seattle. I had two sons. One died of cancer and my youngest son lives in Idaho. My daughter-in-law lives in Aberdeen, North Carolina. That is where my son was stationed in the Army near Fayetteville. I have five grandchildren," she said.

Miller remarried in 1983. She met Delbert Miller who went to Washington in the 1950s from Fairview, Montana. "We met at a Parents Without Partners dance that my friend talked me into attending," Miller recalls. Delbert never wanted to stay in places very long. They traveled to many places. "He loved the beaches and mountains, anywhere away from the cities. We visited all of the western states, and only where my son lived in the east. We never made it to New England to see the changing leaves," she recalled. One of their favorite places they visited was New Mexico with all its colors. Miller said she liked seeing the petrified forest in Arizona, but her most favorite places they went to were the beaches. "I love the lighthouses on the west coast, but I really enjoyed the Outer Banks of North Carolina," she said. The Millers would travel to the beaches of Oregon once a year. "Back then we didn't have to pay to go to the beach," she noted.

The Millers moved to Plains in 1990. "It was the 4th of July. The mosquitoes were terrible that year. It must have been a wet spring. We bought a place up River Road West on McCrea. We had gardens and a greenhouse. Delbert liked making things out of rocks. He was a rock hound. He cut agates and made wind chimes, and other useful items like paper towel holders with agates and stones embellished in the wood. He also made tables with rocks decoupaged on the tops," she noted.

Delbert passed away in 2009 from cancer. "I moved into town in 2020," Miller said. Now she still drives herself around town and out to get the occasional massage from Jill Heremes or to visit friends. "I like to play pinochle once a week at the library to keep my mind active and give me some companionship and socializing. I do okay in small groups. My hearing isn't what it used to be. I can't eavesdrop on conversations that aren't any of my business," Miller said with a chuckle. She also enjoys playing card games on her computer and listening to records on her turntable. She doesn't have a television. "I can't understand what they are saying on the TV so there's no sense in owning one," Miller admitted. She also enjoys walking and going to exercise classes at the hospital. Mondays are lunch out with her girlfriends day.

Miller will be 96 in October and except for a few issues like achy knees or the occasional cold, she still stays active and enjoys her life in Plains where it is quiet and she has good friends.

"I love Plains. It's a comfortable place to live like my childhood was. Over there (Seattle) is a different world now. I have my little group of friends here in Plains," Miller explained.

 

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