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Westmoreland

Smithton woman celebrates 105th birthday, recalls childhood on family farm

Jeff Himler
| Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 12:12 p.m.
Pauline Hood, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, smiles as she tries to answer questions about her life, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pauline Hood, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, smiles as she tries to answer questions about her life, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.
Resident Care Coordinator Shana Dewitt (left), helps Pauline Holod, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, answer questions about her life that included a trip to the Holy Land, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Resident Care Coordinator Shana Dewitt (left), helps Pauline Holod, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, answer questions about her life that included a trip to the Holy Land, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.
Resident Care Coordinator Shana Dewitt (left), helps Pauline Holod, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, answer questions about her life that included a trip to the Holy Land, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Resident Care Coordinator Shana Dewitt (left), helps Pauline Holod, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, answer questions about her life that included a trip to the Holy Land, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.
Pauline Holod, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, rests for a bit, before talking about her life and her trip to the Holy Land, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Pauline Holod, 105, of Mt. Pleasant, rests for a bit, before talking about her life and her trip to the Holy Land, while celebrating her birthday at the Amber House, in Mt. Pleasant, on Monday, April 2, 2018. Holod cannot open her eyes, has a hard time hearing, and sleeps most of the day, but when she is awake, she talks about her life, and enjoys singing.

Grapes, known for their healthful antioxidant properties, are a staple menu item for Pauline Holod.

“I love grapes. They're good to eat,” she said.

That may be one reason why the Smithton native was able to celebrate her 105th birthday this week at the Amber House at Harmon House, a personal care facility in Mt. Pleasant.

The eldest among the 50 residents at Amber House, Holod also has a sweet tooth that she indulged as she enjoyed cake during her birthday party with staff and well-wishers Monday.

“She is very cherished,” said Shana DeWitt, resident care coordinator at the care home.

Holod recalled rising at 6 a.m. as a girl to help milk cows on the family's farm near Smithton. Her chores included gathering eggs.

“I liked to pick apples for apple pie and applesauce,” she added.

There was time for fun with her siblings — playing ball during warmer months and making snowmen when winter arrived.

A retired elementary school teacher, Holod earned her degree in education from the institution that would become California University of Pennsylvania after graduating from West Newton High School. She devoted herself to her pupils for more than 45 years — beginning in a one-room schoolhouse in South Huntingdon.

“You had to teach all subjects — reading, writing and arithmetic,” she recalled.

She finished her career at the now-closed Barren Run Elementary School in the Yough School District.

More than a guilty pleasure, sweets provided a supplemental income for Holod. During the many summer vacations she spent in Atlantic City, she made and sold saltwater taffy on the boardwalk.

Holod expanded her horizons by touring abroad with fellow instructors to destinations including Holland. But she stuck with her standby, milk, among the many beverages available to sample there.

A lifetime member of the Lutheran church in Smithton, she made repeat trips to the Holy Land.

“I wanted to see where Christ was born,” she said.

Holod still applies arithmetic to subjects that matter: She keeps a careful accounting of her stash of cookies at Amber House.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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