Clovis resident Glen Clawson is celebrating a centennial occasion Thursday, April 23 - his very own 100th birthday.
Born on a 240-acre farm in North Central Iowa, Clawson has seen many big changes during his lifetime. He grew up with two brothers and one sister on a farm with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Now, he owns a cell phone and a computer - just a couple new inventions since his early years on the farm.
“It’s unbelievable all the inventions they’ve got,” Clawson said. “Seventy years ago, you couldn’t dream of the stuff they have now.”
He spent his childhood helping on the farm. His family raised livestock, grew feed grain for their livestock, sold dairy products, and raised hogs.
“It was a nice childhood,” Clawson said. “You learned to help with the work around the farm. There was always plenty of work to do.”
When asked what he did for fun during his childhood, Clawson just laughed.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of fun,” he said, but added that occasionally there was a dance in town.
There are fun moments that do stand out in his mind, though, like the day his brother took to the skies. There was a pilot at the fair offering airplane rides for a price. His brother decided to take his chances, but he asked Clawson to hold onto something for him.
“I held his watch until he got back, because he was afraid he wouldn’t live through it,” Clawson said, laughing.
Clawson didn’t experience his first airplane ride for a number of years. Even when he traveled between California and Iowa years later, he always took a train.
Clawson and his siblings went to a one-room schoolhouse. There was one teacher who taught all eight grades and, while doing so, she still had to tend to the pot belly stove in the winter time. Luckily for her, the school population was never more than 18. When he finished elementary school, Clawson attended high school in Geneva, Iowa, which was about five miles from his home.
During this time, though, Clawson never had the luxury of indoor electricity or indoor plumbing at home. He and his family used lamps for indoor lighting and took a lantern to the outhouse at night. Clawson was nearly 20 years old when his family finally got electricity in their home. He didn’t have an indoor bathroom, though, until he moved to California years later.
When asked if he enjoyed life better all those years ago compared to what life is like now, Clawson replied, “It didn’t affect me much. I can’t say one was better. It was certainly different then.”
After high school, Clawson kept working on the farm and eventually bought his own.
“Farming was nice, but it was a lot of hard work,” Clawson said. “I worked hard all my life, and I’m not afraid it.”
Clawson’s work on the farm was considered essential to the war effort, and he was not drafted during World War II. In 1945, just after the war had ended, Clawson’s doctor advised him that he move to a better climate because of his asthma. Clawson, his wife and their two children - soon to be three - climbed into a Plymouth and made their way across the United States from Iowa to California.
When they arrived in California, Clawson said he worked on a dairy farm, located between Clovis and Fresno, for seven years. Clawson worked a number of different jobs after moving to California, including owning a car lot in Selma and later buying a farm in Sanger where he grew oranges and grapes. He lived there until he moved to Clovis around 1990. He began going to the Clovis Senior Center, a place he says he really enjoyed.
“Then I existed until I was 100,” Clawson said, laughing.
Clawson says he doesn’t know the secret to long life but says it runs in the family. His mother lived to 85 and his father to 91.
However, he does have one bit of advice that he’s learned over the years.
“Work and save your money.”