- Author: Jose Campos
- Author: Suzanne Morikawa
Rosie Barker turns 100 on April 4, 2021. She is the oldest living 4-H alumna in Merced County! Rosie (Kiss) Barker was born in Alberta, Canada in 1921. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was two. They ended up in Livingston and then moved to Stevenson, where she grew up.
Rosie is the only survivor of 10 children. One sister stayed in Canada and didn't move to the U.S. One brother was in the service. One was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
José Campos, 4-H Program Representative in Merced County, interviewed Rosie in the UCCE Merced office.
About her family
“My husband Cecil passed away 32, 33 years ago. He was quite young when he passed away. My family now is all over the valley: Gustine, Newman, Turlock, Modesto, Sacramento is the furthest. But we're all close. We don't see each other, but we talk to each other on the phone. I live with my granddaughter and her two daughters. We all get along real well. It boils down to how you're raised. It goes a long way.”
Rosie's family includes:
20 great grandchildren
1 great-great granddaughter
“I was raised with the old timers. They didn't sit around and do nothing. You worked. I thought, ‘As long as I can do it, my folks don't have to do it.'”
“I worked at home a lot. We didn't have electricity, so I milked the cows by hand. I didn't mind it at all. Later we got electricity and got milking machines, but then you had to clean them. I wasn't that thrilled about that! (laughs) I milked cows until the day I got married.”
“After it rained at night, you'd get up in the morning and it was always clear and fresh. I would go out and get the cows in a big field with a hill. One cow had to always be first. She would push the other cows out of the way so she could be first. There was one cow that was always late. They all had a mind of their own.”
Looking through a photo album, she came across a class picture. “Twelve of us wanted to become citizens and we had to get a teacher to teach us. At the time, you had to go to school to become citizens. We got Alice Radford to teach us. My brother, sister and I and our friends all became U.S. citizens. I remember that real well.”
“I enjoyed being in 4-H very much.”
Rosie joined 4-H when she was 9. “In grammar school, all the girls joined 4-H.”
Rosie was in 4-H for four years. She has strong memories of learning how to sew and going to 4-H camp.
“With sewing, you learned it the right way.”
“I did a lot of sewing, which I learned in 4-H. So you learned your sewing, you did it all the right way. There was ‘your way, their way, the 4-H way'. Their way, your way, forget it. There was the 4-H way. It was a big difference. You did it right. When you got the right leader, you learned it. Those days, you made a lot of clothes in 4-H. They made dresses, coats, a lot of things.”
Looking at a scrapbook page, she remembered making the potholder distinctly. “Fantastic sewing!” she exclaimed, as she studied the potholder. She remembered getting the ribbons as prizes at the fair in 1932.
4-H Camp Memories
“We slept underneath the pine trees. (You) scraped the pine needles into a pile and put your blanket on it and slept out in the open. The smell of the pine sticks out in my mind. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Everything was clean and clear.”
“When we wanted to go up to the Falls, we hitchhiked with our leaders. We rode in the back of a pickup. Just followed what our leaders told us to do.”
“We hiked all over. We went to Yosemite Falls and up to Glacier Point. I remember thinking, ‘Why did our lunch go clear up to Glacier Point?' Then we had to hike up there to eat. The Firefalls were just gorgeous.”
“Every night we had a campfire. Every unit had to put on a skit. Everybody had to participate. Around the campfire was really neat because there was a lot of singing and everyone was involved.”
“I loved it. I think we were there for 4 days. Going to camp, staying there with your friends. There were no cliques. You just took off with a group.”
“My three girls and the grandchildren all enjoyed being in 4-H.”
“My sister was in 4-H, and so was my brother-in-law. They were very active in it. Later, my daughter and granddaughter were in 4-H. My great grandchildren are in 4-H. My grandchildren participated with animals.”
“I have three daughters. They were taught by my sister in 4-H. My grandsons made pajamas. My daughter taught them sewing. They did a lot of sewing. It went a long way.”
What Rosie remembers most
“You remember your leaders, definitely.“
“As for sewing, you got that for the rest of your life. I made my daughters' dresses for school. In the years, I always remembered how I did it in 4-H.”
Please join us in congratulating Rosie in reaching the centenarian milestone! Leave your messages in the comments and we'll be sure to share them with her and her family.