Sep 16, 2008 Jessica Marra Uncategorized
“Don’t let the little things bother you” is one thing that Beatrice McMahon credits to her 100 years of life.
The oldest and longest Park Terrace resident nicknamed Dee Dee by her family, has many stories to share of her 100 years growing up in the towns of Phoenix and Baldwinsville.
Dee Dee was born Sept. 15, 1908 to Albert Ernest and Pansy Olds Caines in South Onondaga, NY. In the early 1920’s her family moved to a farm in the town of Lysander at the intersection of Sixty and Lamson roads. The house is still there, although it has been remodeled. She recalls she enjoyed the farm, mostly feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs. The farm was more of a hobby for her father, only housing a few horses, a few pigs, a cow for milk, and lots of chickens, as he earned a living managing another man’s farm and working in a paper mill in Phoenix.
Dee Dee attended a one-room school house at Wrights Corners in Phoenix. She remembers walking to school each day about three miles with her siblings, and on occasion getting a ride in the bobsled pulled by the horse when a snow storm blew threw. She attended the one-room school house until seventh grade, when she transferred to Phoenix High School. Before she transferred to Phoenix High School, she recalls that she would finish her work early and listen to the teacher quiz the older children in higher grades, so when she got to the high school she knew a lot of the material the teachers were teaching. She stopped going to school in 10th grade, but continued on at Central City Business Institute, which gave specialized training for certain skills.
For fun during her younger years, Dee Dee enjoyed going square dancing. Every Friday night she remembers listening to the song “Red Red Robin” which a player piano used to play. She enjoyed listening to her dad play the harmonica as well, but hasn’t heard the song her dad used to sing in years. During the summer months, a trip camping on Pleasant Lake was always in store. She actually taught herself how to swim by reading a Boy Scout handbook.
Wedding bells were ringing on Oct. 21, 1928 when Dee Dee wed her husband George Thomas McMahon. A story she enjoyed telling was how she met her husband. She went to a farm to pick peas and met the boss of the farm, who later turned out to be her husband George McMahon. A year later their one and only son Thomas Albert McMahon was born.
During the late 1930’s, her and her husband moved to Lewis County where they spent the next few years of their life, with George working for Rawleigh Products, a route that delivered household items to farm families in outlying areas. During this time Dee Dee remembered putting a quarter in a jar every night for many many months to save up enough money to attend the World’s Fair. They didn’t have enough money for a hotel, so they camped out in the Rawleigh panel truck.
The year 1940 marked the return back to Baldwinsville where she has lived continuously for the past 68 years. When asked why she wanted to move back to Baldwinsville she replied “It was George’s hometown and I liked the small town. People were very friendly and everyone trusted everyone. I just look back with enjoyment and happiness. At one time you knew everybody, but more recently it was very seldom that I met anybody that I knew.”
George and Dee Dee operated McMahon’s Auto Supply, which was located where the House of Dos is now in the village. During the time of World War II, Dee Dee and her family moved into the back of the store to cut down on expenses and make the store more profitable. When the store shut down ten years later, Dee Dee opened a 5 & 10 store in Phoenix similar to one operated at the same time by her son Tom in Moravia.
In 1956, 1957, and 1959 her three grandsons Andy, Tim, and Steve were born respectively. She now has eight great-grandchildren ranging from 3 to 21 years old.
The topic of the election was brought up, and Dee Dee remembered the first person she voted for President Herbert Hoover. “I knew I could vote and I was glad of it,” said Dee Dee. Since women got the right to vote, Dee Dee has only missed voting in one election due to a snow storm in the 1970’s.
Over the years Dee Dee has told doctors that drinking tea has kept her going strong, but she also gives credit to her son and daughter-in-law. “If it wasn’t for Tom and Shirley I probably wouldn’t be here.” It also could run in the genes. Dee Dee’s mother Pansy Olds Caines lived to be 98, her brother Albert Caines lived to 92, and her sister Esther Caines lived to be 94.
Park Terrace had a celebration for Dee Dee, where they prepared her favorite meal, liver and onions. Today Dee Dee enjoys reading the Post Standard and Messenger from cover to cover.