Mabel ‘not kaput yet’ after 100 years

Mabel Boedeker

Mabel (Boedeker) Nollau has almost reached her goal. 

She turns 100 this month, which is two years shy of the age her mother lived to and she hopes to beat. 

But, if you count by actual birthdays, Mabel, who frequently brags she is “not kaput yet,” is only turning 25 this year. 

“I was born a leap year baby,” she said. 

Mabel was born Feb. 29, 1920 north of Valmeyer to Wilhelm Boedeker Jr. and his wife Elisabeth. 

She was baptized April 11, 1920 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wartburg. 

She moved several times as a child, living in towns including Maeystown, Valmeyer and Waterloo. 

Her two brothers were 9 and 13 years older than her, and Mabel was the only girl in her family. 

“I just grew up, that’s all,” the self-proclaimed die alte Frau – which means the old lady – said. 

Her family was poor, so she had to walk about a mile to school. 

Mabel first got married at age 19 and had a daughter. 

That marriage ended in divorce, but she remarried, this time for good, and had two more daughters.

The daughters – Barbara Aumann, Judy Berowski and Mary Kujawski – joke they are all older than their mother because they are all retirement age now.    

The family lived in Belleville, but Mabel now lives at Cedar Trails Senior Living in Freeburg. 

Mabel worked as a homemaker throughout her life, milking cows, feeding about 100 chickens and teaching her children important skills like how to iron. 

“I did all kinds of stuff,” she said. “I didn’t sit on my hind end and do nothing.” 

She plans to keep that up at her birthday party this Saturday at St. Agatha Church Hall in New Athens – even if she cannot get around as well as she used to. 

“I won’t go to a dance and square dance,” she joked.

She can still enjoy some of her favorite dessert: chocolate cake.  

Mabel, who can still quickly say the alphabet backwards and speak several phrases in German, also offered some advice  to those wanting to live as long as she has. 

She said not to smoke, calling tobacco “that stinking stuff,” or drink. 

“I hated to dance with guys who drank beer because I think beer stinks,” she said. 

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