Every year we go around the sun, but very few can say they’ve done it a 100 times or more.
Celia Jiménez here, thinking about how our way of living and thinking has changed radically in the past 100 years. Those changes may go unnoticed in the day to day, but they magnify once we start looking at the big picture.
Today is a special day for Ruth Andresen, a long-time resident of Salinas—she can proudly say that she’s gone around the sun 100 times. And Covid-19 didn’t deter this independent woman from celebrating her 100th birthday, either. Wearing a red coat, black pants, a golden crown, a stole and a blanket to keep her warm, this queen sat outside her home to greet the people who passed by to wish her a happy birthday today.
The front yard was decorated with balloons and there was a cute fence made with metal sticks, yellow paper and adorned with paper flowers—a nice way to make sure everyone remembered to keep a safe distance from her. Her friend Lori A. Wood supplied a six-foot ruler that said “Keep Ruth Safe.”
Family and friends, as well as the Women's Club and the nonprofit Active Seniors Inc., all participated in the drive-by, carrying gifts, balloons and happy birthdays signs. My favorite? The one that said: “You make 100 look fabulous.”
Ruth moved to Salinas almost 70 years ago, and she’s been an active member of the community ever since. She was a board member of Monterey County Office of Education and served for over 40 years. She even has an elementary school named after her in Salinas.
Ruth met her husband, Norman Andresen, here in Monterey County when she did a summer program at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, and they raised their family in Salinas. She remembers seeing a grumpy and sometimes hungover marine biologist named Ed “Doc” Ricketts walking down the shore collecting sea animals.
During War War II, she was part of a military geology unit and played a key role leading up to the invasion of Normandy.
Locally, Andresen was also active in her opposition to a proposed oil refinery in Moss Landing. Elkhorn Slough could have looked completely different from what it looks today.
Today, on her 100th birthday, Ruth was proud wearing her crown and waving her hand as a queen. Her only regret was she wasn't able to get a group picture. Her son, Pete Andresen, has her covered as far as photos and video to make sure she will have a birthday to remember.
The event ended with family members, neighbors and friends singing Ruth a happy birthday from a distance. While I didn’t have the chance to speak with the birthday queen today, I know that she’s well versed in using Zoom so I’m pretty sure we can set a time soon to talk about all she has witnessed during her life.
-Celia Jiménez, staff writer, email@example.com