The North Bend Eagle


Pallat looking forward to celebrating 100

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 12/10/14

When Marcella Pallat took her driver’s test last year, the tester asked her to take the vision test first. She passed that and passed her driving test.
At the age of 99.

“Someone told me I wouldn’t get (my driver’s liscense) because I was so old,” Pallat said. “That bothered me. It just about made me sick. I passed like that. I never had a violation.”

Pallat has two vehicles, a 79 GMC truck and a ‘78 Cadillac Eldorado.

“I’m not that fond of driving, but I still do,” she said.

Marcella PallatRelatives from Boston and Las Vegas will be in town for Marcella Pallat's 100th birthday party Dec. 14.

Approaching her 100th birthday, Pallat still has a sharp memory and a sense of humor. She has been counting down the months, weeks and days until her birthday party, anticipating it like a child looking forward to her 10th. Pallat was born Dec. 11, 1914, in Morse Bluff, at her parent’s home that now belongs to Ed Zeleny. She was the second of five children. Brother Orland was 20 months older, but after Marcella the next of three sisters didn’t come for six years.

“I’ll tell you one thing, we didn’t have a childhood,” Pallat said.

When she was five her parents moved out to a farm. By the time she was eight, she was milking cows, cultivating in the field with a horse, raking hay and alfalfa and shucking corn by hand.

Pallat and her brother did get to attend school. When they started school, they could not speak any English.

“I was like a dunce in school because I didn’t know English,” Pallat said. “The town kids made fun of me. I cried and they made more fun of me.”

She had other memories of school, like the time they were checking Orland’s traps on the way to school and found a skunk. They were sent home from school to take a bath. Pallat still laughs when relating this story.

PattatMarcella Pallat as a one-year old.

But the Svoboda siblings eventually did learn English and continued walking the two and a half miles to Morse Bluff schools until they finished eighth grade. Then they stayed home to help with the farm.

When her grandmother Pabian died, Pallat went to live with her grandfather and uncles. She was 15.

For fun they would go to Scott’s Lake or the ZCBJ Hall for dances. Their parents were dancers and her mother taught Marcella and Orland to dance.

“This was the only thing we had to look forward to,” Pallat said.

On Friday nights in the summer they would go to the picture shows in downtown Morse Bluff.

When Grandpa Pabian needed some mason work done, he hired Anton Pallat.

“He’d come quite a bit and visit with my uncles,” Marcella Pallat said. “Finally he said to me, ‘How’d you like to go to the picture show?’ ”

The Pallats were married Dec. 5, 1935. They lived with his parents in Prague for a while then went to live with his sister in Omaha until they could afford a place of their own.

Anton worked as a carpenter. Marcella first worked as a housekeeper. Then she got a job breaking eggs at Jerpe Commission Company, which later became Swanson Company, which became Campbell’s Soup Company. During World War II they made dinners for soldiers and later made TV dinners. Marcella worked there 35 years.

Anton taught himself how to weld and never lacked work. At the age of 76, Anton had a stroke, leaving him unable to talk or walk, but his wife said his mind was still sharp.

On May 25, 1984, Anton and Marcella moved to North Bend. They lived in the house her parents had built in 1949. For nine years Marcella took care of Anton until he died Jan. 23, 1993.

“We had lots of fun together,” Marcella said. “The nine years went by quickly.”

Marcella learned how to play bridge when she was living in Omaha.

“I took lessons at the Paxton Hotel and went with girlfriends. It took me a year to learn. Best time I ever had.”

She continued to play bridge, sometimes up to four times a week. She has cut that down to once a month at the Senior Center bridge tournament. In the winter her partner is Ed Watt. In the summer it’s Carole Enfield.

In looking back at the last 100 years, there is not one specific historical event that she remembers. She has seen man go from horses, to cars, to the moon.

She has seen communication go from wall phones to cell phones. She has seen roads go from dirt roads in front of her house to paved roads by her house. She has seen man go from across the country to the moon. She remembers them all. But her opinion of the world today is not the best

“Our world now is pretty bad.”

She watches news on television and reads the papers. She has opinions about the President, Ferguson riots and the firing of Bo Pelini.

Though she has a few medical problems, Pallat is able to enjoy life. When asked her secret to longevity.

“I don’t know what to say. I hope to live another year or two, taking one day at a time.”

Happy 100th birthday, Marcella.

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