Lynnwood Lifestyle: Celebrating 103 years with Wilma, plus summer events around town

Wilma Andrews at the piano with son Bill Bodin.
Wilma Andrews at the piano with son Bill Bodin.

How many centurions do their children describe as “wild”? This columnist couldn’t have imagined such a moniker for a grand dame until I met Lynnwood resident Wilma Andrews.

In glittering letters, “Wild Wilma” splashes across the storyboard depicting the highlights of Wilma’s life as designed by her son, Edmonds resident Bill Bodin.

On the day that Wilma celebrated her 103rd birthday, just a few weeks ago, she began the telling of her life story by revealing to new acquaintances, “I was born in 1912 – the year that the Titanic sunk.”

In fact, in the last 103 years Wilma has lived through WWI, and all of the wars that have followed. When she was born in Sacramento, Calif., William Howard Taft was President. She vividly recalls the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, who took the throne at the age of 27 in June 1953. “Oh yes! It was on the radio! It was all quite grand.”

I first encountered Wilma at Chanterelle Hometown Bistro, where she was having breakfast with her friend and companion Kerri-Ann Ratigan. Wilma frequently comes to Edmonds for coffee dates, but it was at her home in Lynnwood that I had an opportunity to interview her and ask the age-old question, “To what do you attribute your long life?”

“Whiskey!” she proclaimed, continuing, “I drank lots of liquor.” And the story of Wilma’s early life in Sacramento begins. It seems that as a young woman in her 20s, “Wild Wilma” was the girlfriend of a prohibition-era underworld bootlegger who ran an operation along the banks of the Sacramento River. She also mentioned that she was part of the “J Street” scene.

J Street (and also K Street in Sacramento) was the location for dance halls and “establishments” during Prohibition.

On the weekends, Wilma would accompany the racketeer in his speedboat as he raced up and down the Sacramento River distributing barrels of whiskey to casinos and speakeasies. “We really didn’t have any reason to race the boat up and down the river when we made our deliveries, but we did. We could have landed in jail!” But they didn’t.

Sacramento, dubbed “The City of Saloons” in 1866 in an account published by The Territorial Enterprise, was – as described by Wilma – “rough and seedy” but colorful at the same time for a young woman known for her sense of wild adventure.

Declaring my preference for a tall, light gin and tonic, Wilma turned up her nose, “That’s terrible!”WilmaS Story Board

Ultimately Wilma’s lifestyle settled down after her introduction to Leonard Bodin. She and Leonard eloped to Reno when she was 23 years old. They had two children – Bill, who lives in Edmonds, and a daughter Betty, who resides in Sacramento.

Leonard worked for Pacific Fruit and Produce and the family’s lifestyle in the ’60s included many corporate transfers – 43 by Wilma’s count. Of her first husband, Wilma says, “I sure loved that man.”

Over the years Wilma learned to play the piano and during our interview she treated me to a recital. With her son at her side, Wilma sat down to play a haunting refrain with impeccable skill. As her impromptu recital concluded, she said, “I used to be very good.” Actually, her rendition of “La Paloma” was enchanting.

Ultimately, after her children had grown she remarried – again, in Reno. Wilma’s second husband, Bud Andrews, owned a motor rewind company. She and her second husband lived a comfortable lifestyle travelling to Europe and Portugal, and entertaining.Sometime after Bud died Wilma followed her son, Bill, to the Pacific Northwest, settling in Lynnwood. Her days are spent in the company of her companion, Kerri-Ann and visiting her son Bill and his family.

Looking back on her happiest moments she brings up her children – Bill and Betty and recounts how pretty her mother was. She takes a moment to brag about her stint as a bat girl for the Sacramento minor leagues and how much she loved taking the river’s ferry boat from Sacramento to San Francisco where she would go dancing on Saturday night as a young girl. “My father didn’t approve”, she reveals.

In a city whose median age is 37.3, Wilma Andrews is an extraordinary, and engaging, exception in Lynnwood.

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Summer Lifestyle

Of course with a summer as glorious as this one, Lynnwood Lifestyle wants to bring you some summer reminders, a few fresh ideas and a mention or two of traditional favorites to jot down on your calendar – which is sure to be heating up.

For reminders, with the 4th of July approaching, don’t forget that fireworks are illegal as reported last month in Lynnwood Today. But the parks are open, so barbecues, old-fashioned gunny sack races, and winding up the ice cream maker are all great ways to celebrate the Fourth.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for getting out and celebrating our community’s heritage. On the Fourth of July there will be an Open House and Trolley Tours at Heritage Park.

Your next-door neighbor, Edmonds, will be lighting up the skies over the Civic Field after its Main Parade. Details of “An Edmonds Kind of Fourth” can be found here.

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spray-park-north-lynwood-lamb

Looking for a cooling splash of water, fun, and laughter? What’s better than dashing in and out under the refreshing waterworks at the Spray Park?

There are two spray parks in Lynnwood:

North Lynnwood Park
18510 44th Ave. W.

Deleway Park
19015 64th Ave. W.

Get Your Spray On!

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Monday, July 6

Lynnwood Library
19200 44th Ave. W.
Toddler and Preschool Storytime
Ready Readers

Lynnwood Library offers an opportunity for uninhibited active-listening for Toddlers and Preschoolers during this storytime event.

Jump, hop, skip, bounce, and run around in reaction to what’s going on in the magical pages of Toddler and Preschool Storytime.

For details contact the library at 425-7782148.

– – –

Shakespeare-In-The-Park

Wednesday, July 15
7 p.m.
Lynndale Park Amphitheater
18827 72nd Ave. W.
Shakespeare In The Park

July 15 ~ Henry IV

July 16 ~ Henry IV

July 22 ~ As You Like It

July 23 ~ As You Like It

July 30 ~ The Two Noble Kinsmen

Aug 6 ~ Much Ado About Nothing

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artsplashlogo

July 16
ARTSplash
201 2nd Ave. S.
Edmonds

Feeling like a little drive over to Edmonds? Lynnwood Lifestyle’s neighbor to the west is celebrating all things artistic at ARTSplash.

Details for this exciting four-day arts festival can be found here.

Emily ~ 2015 Bio jPeg for News (1)Emily Hill is the author of two novels and a short story collection. She also writes the Artfully Edmonds column for My Edmonds News. Emily is retired from a career in public information and news media relations. If you would like your event listed, or featured, in Lynnwood Lifestyle, Emily invites you to contact her at emily@lynnwoodtoday.wpengine.com.

 

 

 

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