County native marks her centennial

10 months ago

Paula Marie Allen, a Masardis native who now lives in Davis, California, celebrated her 100th birthday on April 1.

She was born in Masardis on April 1, 1923, to Lester B. Allen and Katherine Collier. 

She remembers in great detail her early life on her father’s potato farm with her two younger sisters, Rena and Evelyn, and her mother Katherine. She has always said she never knew how poor they were growing up on the farm because they always ate so well.

Life on the farm could be tough but they didn’t know any different. Allen loves telling the story of her father often pulling her and her sisters by sleigh in the snow with a team of horses and being told not to “mess around,” that if they were to fall off he would not be stopping his team to pick them up and they would be walking in the snow. Needless to say, she listened. 

One of her fondest memories, however, is when she was around 16, and her papa surprised them by picking her and her sisters up early from school to go see “Gone with the Wind.” What a special treat that was. 

She warmly recalls picking wild berries in the woods nearby and always bringing pots and pans along to bang if needed to scare away black bears that might be out foraging for the same. 

Allen maintains her secret to longevity is eating potatoes (plain), walking every day and playing games in her retirement facility in Davis, California. She has a wonderful sense of humor, enjoys a good laugh and asserts her easy going “type-B” personality has contributed to her overall good health and coping with the ups and downs of life. 

She still dreams of getting back to her Aroostook County roots “one last time.” Her last visit was when she attended her 70th high school reunion at the age of 88 in Ashland. 

After high school she attended Northeastern Business College and became a stenographer at Hannaford Brothers in Portland. She married Sgt. Harrison Sanborn of Portland at the age of 19 on her parents’ farm in September of 1942, though his parents did not approve of this poor farm girl from the sticks. She gave birth to her first son, Billy, during World War II on the farm, much to her father’s delight after having three girls of his own. Her husband, Harrison, came home after the war almost two years after her first son’s birth. He tried his hand at farming a handful of years, and the couple had two other children, Oliver and Mary. 

They moved across the country with a baby and two young children in tow to California around 1950, where opportunities abounded. Allen had one more surprise baby, Kathy, at the age of 35. 

She has now outlived three husbands, her most recent marriage at the age of 80. She enjoys visiting with people, having an occasional beer and talking about the good days of growing up in Maine.