By Dale Lynaugh
Arlene was born in Kirby, VT on September 20, 1911 to Carl and Maude Ailes. She lived there until she was three years old and then she and her family moved to St. Johnsbury. Arlene lived in St. Johnsbury for five years, attending Grades 1 and 2 at the Portland Street School. In 1920, her family moved to North Danville. Arlene continued with her education in a three room school house in North Danville. She finished grade school, Grade 3 through Grade 8, at the same school, as well as her Freshman and Sophomore years of high school before going to Phillips Academy in Danville where she finished her Junior and Senior year and graduated in 1929.
“High school was fun and I enjoyed it very much. I had many friends and wanted to be with them so I hardly missed a day of school. We had six students in my class….two boys and four girls. I wasn’t involved with many extracurricular activities because I had chores to do on the farm and due to the time the activities were held. I rode my horse from North Danville to Danville in the Spring and Fall. In the Winter I stayed at my grandfather’s farm in Danville (located on Crystal Avenue, now burned down) and walked to school. The only extracurricular activity I got involved in was the operetta (this is a singing play). I had a good singing voice and liked to sing.”
After graduating from high school in 1929, Arlene took a year off to work before attending Lyndon Teachers College. In 1932, she received her teaching degree. Her first teaching job was at a small one room school in Tampico, VT. She was the only teacher and taught Grade 1 through Grade 8. She taught two years and then stopped so that she could start her family.
In 1934, Arlene gave up teaching in order to care for Sylvia, the first of three daughters. Over the years, Carol and Gloria would join their older sister Sylvia. In addition to raising her three children, Arlene was very active in the North Danville community. She was involved with the 4-H Willing Workers Group, Community Club (first Treasurer, chicken pie suppers, dances, basketball/cheerleading), and church (choir, Sunday school teacher, Superintendant of Sunday School).
In the early 1940’s, Clarence and Arlene would take over Clarence’s father’s farm in North Danville (next to the North Danville store). They farmed until Clarence’s death in 1983. In 1995, Arlene moved to the Senior Citizen Center in Danville where she currently resides.
Arlene feels that she is blessed to live this long. She attributes her longevity to good genes, eating healthy, no smoking or drinking, and just by chance (no accidents or serious illnesses she says with a laugh). Arlene’s 100th birthday milestone didn’t go unnoticed. She received congratulations and well wishes from President Barack and Mrs. Michelle Obama, President George and Mrs. Laura Bush, President George and Mrs. Barbara Bush, President Bill and Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Willard Scott (NBC Universal TV), and over 120 family and friends from NH, MA, TN, TX, VA, and VT.
(To read the letters double-click on the thumbnails; it will enlarge the letter enough for you to read it.)