NEWPORT CITY – If Almeda Minnie Allen isn’t the oldest person in the Northeast Kingdom, she comes close and for good reason. The Newport Healthcare resident turns 105 today. “I feel pretty good,” said Allen, during an interview Monday.
Allen, whose maiden name was Osgood, was born in Holland, VT. She had two sisters, one half sister and two half brothers. Her family always lived in the Newport area. Growing up, she liked to read books and played piano.
Allen attended the Newport West School, which is where the United Christian Academy parking lot is now. On the way home from school, she would stop at the theater on Main Street to catch the end of the show. Allen never went beyond the eighth grade, which was common at the time.
“I think that was kind of a trend in those days,” said Allen’s son Edward Allen. “A lot of them went to work.”
Even though his mother grew up during a financially struggling time, Edward Allen said he didn’t think anybody considered themselves poor. The family didn’t have much but nobody went hungry. Edward Allen said his mother talked about wearing hand-me-down shoes and didn’t have much to wear on her hands with the exception of an old pair of gloves with holes. “Nobody had much money, but everybody seemed to be happy,” said Edward Allen.
Almeda Allen earned money by washing dishes at one of the local hotels that used to grace Newport’s downtown. She married her husband, Howard Clyde Allen, Dec. 24, 1925, at the Methodist/Episcopal Church.
Besides Edward Allen, the couple had another son, Howard Clyde Allen, Jr.
In 1940, she went to work at the MH Fishman Department Store and later at the Montgomery Ward Department Store. There, she held a number of positions on the sales floor and in the office.
“There was nothing about the company operations she didn’t know,” said Edward Allen. “From scratch right up to the top.”
Allen retired in 1971 and the family moved to Sundance, Wyoming, where Howard Allen, Jr. worked in advertising and was managing editor of the Sundance Times newspaper. The family returned to Newport in 1975.
Upon returning to Newport, Almeda Allen did housekeeping once a week for Martha Needleman. She also sold tickets at the Derby Port Drive-In Theater.
Almeda Allen liked going to the family’s camp in Coventry where she enjoyed fishing and hunting. She liked making clothes, growing flowers, traveling and cooking.
Almeda Allen enjoyed helping people in any way she could. She even let a neighbor borrow her children’s skates.
Edward Allen said his mother smoked until 1965 when she came down with bronchitis. When she got well, she lit up, she found the taste terrible, put out the cigarette and never smoked again.