MIAMI COUNTY — June Keim only has one disappointment as she reminisced upon her century of life in Miami County.
Keim, who will turn 100 years-old on June 25, shared her lone regret with her daughters Carol Walker and Kathy Whidden — much to their surprise last Friday.
“When I was young, I was bound and determined to learn how to fly and take flying lessons,” shared Keim, as she sat with her daughters at a picnic shelter in Community Park. “My dad worked at Waco in the later years during the war, all the men they were hiring back then, you know. My, you’d thought he owned Waco, he thought it was great.”
“I never knew that,” Kathy said, looking at her sister Carol.
“Me either!” she said.
Born one of seven children, Keim shared her stories of growing up on a farm in Lostcreek Township during the Great Depression and World War II.
“I lived during World War II and through the Great Depression and all the different U.S. Presidents,” shared Keim, as Whidden noted 18 U.S. Presidents have held office in her mother’s lifetime. “I was about 10 and up (during the Great Depression). I lived on a farm, and of course, we had our own milk, eggs and had the gardens, so it didn’t bother us too much because we were used to looking out for ourselves, you know. There were no freebies for people back then, not out in the country anyway.”
Keim recalled selling the cream from their milk to the creamery in Casstown. She recalled how she and her siblings would deliver eggs and cream to residents in Troy.
“We delivered to the more wealthier people in Troy that could buy a whole pint of solid cream. And we dressed chickens. My sister and I, we’d catch these wild ducks up and down the creek, sold them and bought our first bicycle,” she said. Keim can still recall a clumsy friend from town who took a ride on their bicycle — crashing the beloved vehicle into a barn.
Keim remembers working on the farm in her youth, especially in the family’s large garden and its “truck patch.” Keim recalls anything and everything was canned and preserved.
“We worked. We worked hard,” she said. “Kids didn’t have a childhood back then like they do today. You was busy working.”
Keim continued that work ethic through her school years, graduating as the valedictorian of the 1936 class of Lostcreek Township School. She was quick to point out she was one of only seven students left who managed to graduate. Approximately 20 of her classmates had to drop out to either marry, move or work through the Great Depression.
“Wasn’t much money running loose, people had to work, but I graduated high school,” she said. “We (siblings) all graduated from high school and some went on to college.”
After graduation, it took two years for Keim to find work making small motor parts for Hobart Manufacturing. She recalled fond friendships with other females working in the factory. She continued working until she started her family.
She met her late husband Raymond at a football game at Capital University through her sister’s match making skills, setting her up with her boyfriend’s brother. Her sister and Raymond’s brother also married.
“He had a hat on. Like most young men, he was trying to impress somebody,” she said. The pair went steady until they got married on May 14, 1949 at the Lutheran Church in Casstown, which is now a home.
Keim believes her key to longevity is in her German genes, a balanced diet and life void of vices such as alcohol and cigarettes.
“You read so many people turning 100 in the paper anymore,” she said. June and her daughters listed a handful of relatives who lived well beyond 80 years and into their late 90s.
She does remember the first time she had a soda pop.
“It was a Coke at the fairgrounds. I was 18. It was really fizzy back then, too,” she said with a laugh.
When asked what keeps her “going,” June quickly quipped, “Marie Callender dinners and pot pies.”
“I have a good diet,” she said. Keim stays active doing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper and following local sports and enjoying her family.
The energetic centenarian looks forward to her weekly hair appointments and is an avid Cincinnati Reds fan with special devotion to first baseman Joey Votto and center fielder Billy Hamilton. Her family treated Keim to a Reds game at the age of 95.
“I love sports. Baseball, football and basketball. I don’t know a whole lot about soccer,” she said. “Joey (Votto). Billy (Hamilton), he’s a cute little player. He half kills himself to get that ball out there. Too bad they don’t win more though. I do watch their games on TV. I like sports. I like to read books and I like crossword puzzles.”
Assisted by a cane and walker at times, Keim still gets out and about with help from her family to her important hair appointments followed by a quick meal. Her favorite treat is nachos supreme from Taco Bell. Walker explained going to dinner, even fast food, was a rarity for her until the last decade or so.
Keim is the mother of Carol and Larry Walker, Kathy and Wesley Whidden and Mark and Connie Keim, all of whom live in Miami County. She has seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Keim shared her simple birthday wishes.
“I hope our country stays in peace. I hope my children all live healthy lives and all my grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all my in-laws, Wesley and Larry and Connie. As a family, we all get along great,” she said.
And maybe a win for her beloved Reds?
“No hope for a championship this year. Just so they win some now and then,” she said with a laugh.