Rotterdam resident celebrates a century of memories

Helen Elizabeth Gorden's daughter Dolores Varriale remembers that her mother walked everywhere in her younger years.

She never had a car, said Varriale. "She would walk quite a ways to get a bus to go to work."

When she had to go a bit farther, Gorden got in on an early trend of riding a tricycle.

Varriale remembers her mother riding her three-wheel bike to get groceries and to run other errands.

"She was very active," said Varriale.

It would appear Gorden's active lifestyle has paid off.

On Sunday, Feb. 17, Gorden celebrated her 100th birthday, making her one of Rotterdam's oldest residents.

And though Gorden suffered a stroke several years ago, she still lives on her own.

"She has a hard time hearing and talking, but she's gradually getting better," said Varriale, who lives in an apartment across the hall from her mother.

Varriale said she remembers a time when Gorden entertained all of her family with her stories.

Born in Schenectady, Gorden married Ernest Otto Stewart on Feb. 20, 1928, when she was 20 years old.

Varriale recalls one of her mother's favorite stories about her honeymoon.

"After the wedding, they drove to Pittsfield, Mass., for the honeymoon, but it was freezing cold and she said they didn't have good windshield wipers and hardly any heat."

The couple had two children, Delores and Marilyn.

Varriale, now 74, is retired and lives in Rotterdam. Marilyn Stewart, now 77, works as an optician at Wal-Mart in Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Varriale remembers her father as a village handyman who worked odd jobs. For a time, she said, he worked at a Rotterdam tire shop.

But Varriale recalls that her mother was a professional in her own right.

Helen Gorden graduated from Schenectady High School and Spencer Business School.

At Spencer, Stewart learned to use a comptometer, a mechanical adding machine that predated the calculator. The machine used a series of levers, arranged horizontally and vertically.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment