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100 years young


With the Bubble Club behind her, there is no stopping Arlene Lewis

Arlene Lewis with her children. Julene Ripperger, Harvey Lewis Jr., Janine Lewis, Janice Cummings, Janette Young and Arlene Lewis

Arlene Lewis with her children. Julene Ripperger, Harvey Lewis Jr., Janine Lewis, Janice Cummings, Janette Young and Arlene Lewis

Family. That’s what Arlene Lewis says has been the focus of her life. So far, she has spent 100 years on this earth, and she has birthed five children, lost one, has five grandkids and enjoys her great grandkids, too.

The Lewis family recently celebrated with Arlene on her 100th birthday, which was Aug. 1. The crew traveled from far and wide throughout Iowa and as far as Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri and North Carolina to be with Arlene on her big day at the Bondurant Christian Church.

“I was born in ’17,” says Arlene.

She entered the world in Mason City, Nebraska. Her family then moved to Colfax when she was 6. In seventh grade, they moved to Newton, which is where she went through high school, the class of 1937.

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Marriage came along shortly thereafter. Arlene says she met her husband, Harvey Lewis, in Newton at an establishment that served Budweiser.

“Guys at the bar would holler at him ‘Why don’t you marry her?’ ” she remembers. And so that’s what he did.

In Missouri, marriage licenses weren’t mandatory, so the two lovebirds hightailed it in 1939 across the state line, said “I do,” and then drove back in time to have supper with their parents to celebrate.

Out of the Missouri wedding came a happy marriage and five children. Each child was at the 100-year birthday party — Julene Ripperger, Harvey Lewis Jr., Janine Lewis, Janice Cummings and Janette Young. Sadly, Young passed away in August.

Birthday cards from around the country wished Lewis well, and she is grateful for the outpouring of support, especially from the Bubble Club.

The Bubble Club officially came into existence five years ago, but its members have been a group for far longer. The group of 17-plus grew up within a stone’s throw of one another in and around Arlene’s house.

“When we see the movies where there’s tons of kids in every neighborhood, that’s exactly how we grew up,” Janice says.

“They are a crazy bunch,” Arlene adds.

“There were four girls over here,” says Janice. “There were three girls over there. Around the corner were two girls. So it all kind of was like a neighborhood thing. And we all grew up together and went to school together.”

During stormy weather, or a tornado, the entire crew congregated in the Lewis basement for safety.

“The kids were here all the time with us,” says Arlene.

LewisParty5People would stop by after school and wait for their parents.

“Mother welcomed anyone and everyone into our home,” says Janice.

The group agrees that getting into the Bubble Club means you need to care about Arlene. The Bubble Club crochets, plays bingo, knits and does many other activities, Arlene is at the center of everything, and the group is centered on having fun. They have even been in two parades.

Arlene still lives on the same piece of land she and her husband bought in 1953. They later tore down the house that was originally on the land and built the current home. She has friends and relatives who stop in to check on her every day.

Arlene’s birthday is Aug. 1 again next year, and the Bubble Club is already making plans to be there. ♦



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