Most people live their lives in hopes that during the golden years, the memories they have will be good ones. However, not everyone has the opportunity to look back on 100 years as Annie Martinek does.
Martinek, who will turn 100 on July 15, has the rare advantage of remembering when traveling by horse and buggy from Crisp to visit neighbors in Ennis took a good part of the day and then how traveling was made easier when automobiles began to rule the roads.
In her lifetime electricity was invented, television became a part of American culture and the moment the first man landed on the moon is something more than a passage in a textbook.
Through all the advancement in society Martinek has kept up but remembers what life was like in the good ol’ days.
“I lived with my parents until I was 21 and then I got married and moved five miles away to the house I still live in,” she said proudly.
Growing up in a Czech community allowed Martinek to speak her native tongue, but proved to be an obstacle when she went to school where the teacher only spoke English.
“It was a difficult time for me but the good thing was we went to school in a one-room school house so my brother translated for me,” she said.
Her brother also taught her important phrases in English while they walked the three and a half miles to school every morning.
Going to school and visiting other Czech families on the weekends was the only socializing Martinek remembers as a child.
“My parents did not take us into town with them unless we needed to try on shoes or get new clothes,” she said.
It wasn’t until she was older that she was allowed to participate in the festivities of July 4, which was the predominant Czech celebration of the year. Dances were also held often and Martinek remembers them fondly.
“It is funny to think of now but all the girls stood on one side of the room and all the boys on the other, but when the music started the boys ran across the room to ask their favorite girl to dance,” she said.
It was a futile exercise for any boy who asked her to dance because while she may have been polite and accepted other invitations, she only had eyes for Joe Martinek, whom she married in 1928.
“When we first started out we didn’t have a lot. My husband’s father let us borrow his car until we could get settled.
Establishing themselves took some doing and a lot of hard work but Martinek didn’t know any other way.
“We grew up with chores and helped our parents on the farm so I didn’t know any other way of life. I was working in the field hauling 40-50 pound cotton bales three hours before our first baby was born, that baby was almost born on a cotton sack,” she said with a laugh.
Helping her husband manage their farm had its ups and downs and she remembers when times were not so good.
“During the depression we worked hard to grow our crops and took them into town to sell them. My husband put all our money in the bank and the next day the bank closed and we lost all our money. We had to rely on my brothers to help us out with food until we sold our crop the next year. It was difficult but we made it,” she recalls.
“I think I’ve made it this long because I worked hard and took care of my family. I have had a very happy life,” she said.
Growing up, Martinek was one of 10 children and family was very important to her. Her seven children were raised in a close knit household and passed that along to their children. All seven children live within seven miles of their homestead and of her 29 grandchildren, 27 live in the area.
Martinek also has 58 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren, all of whom she delights in seeing.
Holidays at her house consist of 153 people but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Mama likes to be around people but she doesn’t like to be the center of attention,” said daughter Adell Rejcek.
That might prove to be difficult for Martinek as friends and family gather on Sunday to share memories and visit with a lady that has been a wonderful part of their lives for so long.
Birthday celebrations will be held July 15 at the SPJST hall and Martinek is sure of one thing, she will add this celebration to her fondest memories of a life well lived.
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