Christine Millikin Churchill
of
Denmark, AR 

Chird Bobbitt     E-mail: chird@bobbittville.com
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Reflecting on 103 years

 

Christine Millikin Churchill, who is preparing for 104th birthday this September, is reflected in the mirror on the wall of the home in Judsonia she and her husband, Harry, purchased in 1962. Churchill has many memories of Judsonia and Bald Knob including riding in a passenger car on a train much like the one being restored at The Depot in Bald Knob.
Churchill-ChristineMillikin20071109.jpg (152646 bytes) by Chird Bobbitt
2007 Click to enlarge


JUDSONIA — Christine Chloe Millikin Churchill was born Sept. 23, 1903 and, as she approaches her 104th birthday, she is still living independently in the home she and her husband, Harry, bought in 1962.

The historic railroad car, circa 1894, which is being restored at The Depot in Bald Knob was in service when Churchill took her first train ride from Bradford to Bald Knob in 1919, but there is no way to know if it is the car Churchill rode. She only remembers she rode in a passenger car that seemed quite new and grand to her at the time.

“It was the first train I was on, so it was a whopper to me,” Churchill reminisced. “I didn’t know anything about trains except what my mother told me. She knew all about trains and riverboats. The train was interesting - a little scary, but I enjoyed it. They treated us nice at the depot. The passenger car looked great, and I could look out the window and see things going by.”

Churchill and her young friends rode to Bald Knob to have dinner with her friends’ relatives. They bought tickets at the depot and boarded the train, two to a seat. The conductor came along later and took their tickets. She enjoyed her wait for the return train in The Depot, too, and she went along with her friends on a second trip just to ride the train.

“I enjoyed it all. Everything was really interesting to me,” she said.

Everything still interests Churchill. She loves plants and cares for the numerous potted flora that line her carport and driveway, tends her aquarium, cares for her cat, reads, does housework, and cooks her own meals. She watches television, keeps up on world affairs, and has definite opinions on several current political issues. She has household help four hours a week, a nearby granddaughter and numerous neighbors she can call on if she needs anything, and she feels blessed.

She was born on the property that is part of the original 1860 Morris Farmstead near Denmark, as was her father. The property is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and Churchill said she visited her cousin in the home numerous times. She grew up between Pleasant Plains and Denmark, next to Ten-Mile Mountain, and attended a one-room school in the Eighty-Eight community. Her family was relatively prosperous, and her father bought “a big, old touring car, a two-seater,” about 1911.

“We were always considered to have money. That doesn’t mean we had a lot. We were surrounded by really poor people. We grew our own food. My grandmother had a loom, and she made everything: Sweaters, blankets, carpets. The women were always working. They spent their spare time quilting, knitting, crocheting or working on the loom,” she said. “I was the only child my mother and father had, so I always had good clothes and plenty to eat.”

Churchill took special classes her last two years of school, took her test for a teaching certificate and passed, but she never taught. She married at 17 and moved to St. Louis, where her mother had moved after the death of Churchill’s father when he was only 36. Churchill went to work in a factory and retired after 33 years. During World War II, the factory made electric motors for the war effort. Churchill recalled that her son was on a Navy destroyer during WWII that had the same brand of motors, and he “got a kick out of telling everyone that his mother made the motors for the destroyer.”

For a time during the Depression, she was a single mother with two young kids.

“Even in St. Louis, people starved to death during the Depression, so I heard, but I never lost my job. I took on extra jobs, cleaning houses after work…I had to keep my kids going and looking nice, and I wanted to look nice when I wasn’t working,” she said.

She met Harry at the factory and they were married for about 68 years, until his death in 1998.

She said once when she was quite ill, a doctor told her it was all up to God and prayers.

“God is taking care of me and I’m doing the praying,” she said with a smile. “I’ve felt like God was taking care of me since I was little. I’ve been blessed in so many ways I can’t count the ways. To get as old as I am…I have no idea.”

She has seen a lot of changes in her lifetime.

“I kind of like the old times. I don’t like what’s going on today; I don’t like how the country is being run…When I grew up, we could go walking out in the woods and no one would bother us. You can’t do that now. And look how high the cost of living is getting to be, and people trying to raise children. We have all kinds of conveniences, but in many ways we are working harder. We have bigger houses and more of everything, but it takes more time to take care of stuff. We had no television, radio, electric lights or plumbing, but we had clean air, plenty of food, and fresh milk. I realize I had a lot of things other kids didn’t. We were blessed in so many ways,” Churchill said.

Both her children are deceased, but she has two grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren. Judsonia police officer Robert Parsons is a neighbor who visits often, helps her with her flowers, and loads her medicine box because her eyesight is bad. Other neighbors visit and lend a helping hand when needed. She uses a walker and doesn’t get out often but enjoys her daily visitors.

“I have wonderful neighbors. I like my home here. I like my life. I enjoy every minute of my life,” she said.

 

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White County, Arkansas