100-year-old Conway woman looks forward to voting for Hillary Clinton as first woman president

  • Conway resident Helen Reed, who has lived on Main Street for more than 80 years, turned 100 July 17, 2016. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO

  • Conway resident Helen Reed, who has lived on Main Street for more than 80 years, turned 100 on July 17. She looks forward to voting for Hillary Clinton, whom she hopes will become the first female president. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Conway resident Helen Reed, who has lived on Main Street for more than 80 years, turned 100 July 17, 2016. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO

  • Conway resident Helen Reed, who has lived on Main Street for more than 80 years, turned 100 July 17, 2016. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO

  • Conway resident Helen Reed, who has lived on Main Street for more than 80 years, turned 100 July 17, 2016. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO

  • Conway resident Helen Reed, 100, has lived through a century’s worth of historic events including World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the moon landing, assassination of JFK, the 9/11 terror attacks, and both wars in the Middle East. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/26/2016 4:02:15 PM

CONWAY — Helen Reed was born in 1916, four years before women were allowed to vote in the United States.

Today, she lives in the same two-story house on Main Street that has been her home for more than 80 years, and is a few months away from casting a vote for Hillary Clinton, who could become the nation’s first woman president.

“It’s just wonderful, it’s nice, and about time,” she commented, while sitting in a corner arm chair, backlit by sunlight streaming through white silk curtains. “You bet I’ll be voting for Hillary.”

Reed, who is the oldest of eight children (she has outlived all her siblings), has the distinguished honor of holding the Boston Post Gold Cane, a gold-painted cane given by the town to the oldest member of the community. She has lived through a century’s worth of historic events including World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the moon landing, assassination of JFK, the 9/11 terror attacks, and both wars in the Middle East.

“It’s come so gradual,” she said about how culture has shifted throughout the century. “You don’t realize the changes.”

On July 17, members of the town came together and celebrated her 100th birthday.

Reed, who has three kids, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, was a farmer’s wife who lived off the land in her youth.

“I’ve lived a good life. I never was a big drinker or a smoker. No bad habits,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, when asked about the key to living a successful and long life.

“We never smoked in our lives, and we raised tobacco,” she added with a laugh.

As a teenager, the Conway native fell in love with Cullen Reed, a young man whom she often saw during dances held at Sugarloaf Mountain. At the dances, Reed said the men sat on one side of the room, the women on the other; men would walk across to the women’s side and pick dance partners.

“I was hoping he would pick me,” she said with a laugh, “because he was one of the best dancers there was.”

Soon after, the dance partners married in 1936, when she was 19 years old and he was 25. Together, they worked the land and raised dairy cattle on a farm behind the house on Main Street. Reed’s husband has since passed away.

Reed said she can remember the town when it was younger — when there was more farm land and someone had to run into the road and halt traffic in order to drive cattle across Main Street out to pasture.

Later, Reed said, she drove a station wagon school bus and worked as the cafeteria manager at the Grammar School, for about 25 years.

Nancy Bovio, Reed’s daughter, said former students who can remember Reed when she worked in the cafeteria occasionally still drop by the house to visit.

“It’s really nice for her to live in a small town like this,” she said. “Everyone watches out for her.”

You can reach Andy Castillo

at: acastillo@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 263

On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo


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