Kathleen Magnusson Hillis and Lorene Magnusson Davis were both born at home in Ardmore. Kathleen was born in 1922 and Lorene in 1924. Now, all these years later, they are roommates at Limestone Health Facility’s Senior Rehabilitation and Recovery Center. They are the daughters of O.W. and Ellis Magnusson. O.W. was a farmer, and according to Kathleen, “He raised everything—corn, cotton peas, sorghum, and peanuts.” Later on he raised cattle, too. Both girls worked the farm hard, as was the case with every kid during the Great Depression, and Lorene’s husband was a farmer, too.
Lorene is the baby of the family, and she married at the age of 15. Kathleen married at the ripe old age of 17. Kathleen made an interesting comment about her father when she said, “He wanted us to go to college and get jobs.” I asked, “But you both fell in love, right?” She smiled. Both Kathleen and Lorene were happily married, and each of them had one child. Kathleen had a son, and Lorene had a daughter.
Kathleen went on to become a doctor’s assistant at Jackson Hospital in Lester, and Lorene worked the farm with her husband. Kathleen’s husband served in Europe during WWII, and Lorene’s husband was exempt due to the fact that “he got butchered when he got his appendix out, and he had flat feet.”
The sisters were raised Methodist, but Kathleen spent her life fellowshipping at the Church of Christ because that was her husband’s church. They both love reading the Bible, and Kathleen especially loves to read the book of Revelation. Kathleen enjoys reading the newspaper from front to back, and because Lorene was out in the fields a lot, she didn’t read much for pleasure. However, Lorene did read trade magazines that had to do with cattle.
This is the first time that I have gotten to do the “faves” section with more than one person in the same interview, and it was so much fun to hear sisters act like sisters with each other as they discussed their possible answers. Kathleen’s favorite color is purple, which she wore for the interview, and Lorene’s is red, which she wore as well. The one thing they share in common is that they both like to make and eat fried chicken. They are also big Dolly Parton fans. However, they made me laugh when they talked about how, long after they were married and living on opposite corners of the same property, they would call each other on the phone when it was time for Dancing With The Stars, which was broadcast on WAAY 31. Kathleen told me, “I would be willing to miss a meal before I’d miss Dancing With The Stars.”
Their favorite United States President is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Lorene says that she appreciates how FDR took care of the soldiers. As far as the biggest changes that have occurred in their lifetime, Kathleen says that she thinks it’s the invention of the TV, and Lorene says it was when all the soldiers came home from World War II.
I think the most interesting and entertaining thing about these two is that they yodel! They gave me a demonstration, and it made my day.
They love the care they are getting at the Limestone Health Facility and enjoy being there. Kathleen says, “I love the way they take care of us now that we can no longer take care of ourselves.” She and Lorene say that the food is good, and Kathleen’s favorite activity is bingo. “We love music, too,” she said, and Lorene said with enthusiasm, “Music is our middle name!”
I asked them what words of wisdom they would give to young people, and Kathleen said, “Be good, study hard, and stay out of trouble.” Lorene said, “Live a good life, stay out of trouble, and do the best you can.”
As we moved things about so we could take their picture, Kathleen looked at me and grinned, saying “We’ve had a good life.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner