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99 years of vivid memories
Maxine Anvik shares her life story at Friends of Library event
Maxine Anvik recalls memories of her parents as she gives a brief account of her nearly 100 years of life and experience during a program at the Friends of the Library annual meeting at the Statesboro Regional Library Monday.

Guests and members of the Friends of the Library received a rare treat Monday night at the annual Friends of the Library meeting.

Ninety-nine-year-old E. Maxine Dickey Anvik reminisced and shared vivid details of her almost-century-long lifetime. She turns 100 in October.

Sitting cozily up front in the meeting room with sparse notes in her lap, Anvik spoke candidly about her life, accompanied by pictures on a screen that are also included in her memoir, entitled “Ramblings from My Century of Progress.” The memories are penned by her daughter, Nelda Bishop, from Anvik’s own words and writings.

Don’t let the word “rambling” in her book title fool you, however. Anvik enlightened guests with an impressive, chronological tale of her life, woven from 1917 to much into her adulthood with such clarity that attendees could taste the sugar beets she whacked as a child in the field, shiver from the cold as her brothers cut ice blocks from the bottom of the river and sputter dust particles during the “Dirty Thirties.”

Anvik was born in Andes, Montana, and was one of seven children. Her parents were homesteaders. One of her first memories as an early elementary-aged young girl was walking a mile and a half to school with her brother.

“We walked across a pasture and up a hill,” Anvik described. “We disappeared over that hill at 9 in the morning and were there until we topped the hill around 4 o’clock.

“It was a one-room school with eight grades and 12 children from various homesteads around. The library was a bookshelf on the wall.”

By the time she was in third grade, Anvik’s family moved to a new farm near the North Dakota and Montana boundary line. Again, eight grades joined in one room, but this time, Anvik was one of 30 students.

“We sat two students to one seat. And when we finished eighth grade, we walked across the state line to go to high school,” she said.

Out of the seven kids in her family, all but her youngest brother completed high school.

Anvik spoke of the Great Depression and the hardships for her family.


Her parents

“I had wonderful parents — good workers, good people. And good penmanship,” she said.

Anvik recalled that last bit of information with tangible memories.

Her mother kept a diary for many years, and that’s how Anvik had much of the material to use in her book. Her mother also gifted Anvik with a diary as a high school graduation present, and she began her own journaling that would eventually become her memoir.

Visiting the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 when she was 16 turned out to be the inspiration for the memoir title, as that fair also was called the “Century of Progress International Exposition.”

Anvik’s family, as did many in the prairies at that time, suffered during the Dust Bowl period in the mid-1930s, hence the nickname “Dirty Thirties.” The severe dust storms wreaked havoc on agriculture and livestock and took the lives of hundreds, especially infants, due to inhaling the dust particles.

Anvik said her father was very much the community-minded man and took part in what was going on locally and statewide. Anvik apparently applied that knowledge to her life and was involved in the work force and in her community.

During a time that not many women held jobs outside the home, Anvik worked for several federal government agencies including the Farm Security Administration, the Soil Conservation Service and the Montana Welfare Department. She also worked for a postal service for years.


Married life

Maxine Dickey married Arthur “Art” Anvik on July 6, 1938, in Sidney, Montana. Art worked as a carpenter and farmer, and later the two would run the Uptown Motel in Glendive, Montana, for 13 years.

The couple had four children: Dr. Nelda Bishop, who resides in Statesboro, as well as three boys, who Anvik said scattered the country to reside in Washington, Montana and Arizona.

They moved to Statesboro in 2004 when Art’s health began to fail. He passed away in 2008.

Anvik kept just as active in south Georgia as she had in her prior years, joining the Newcomers Club right away and eventually joining the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Red Hat Society.

When asked by a guest what she attributed to her longevity, she paused only briefly and then mentioned “hard work” — specifically, working in the fields with sugar beets as a young girl.

She demonstrated with her hands and said, “We had a beet farm. You use this short-handle hoe to pull back the vines and chop here, and the beets are only about this size.”

She paused to point to her index fingernail.

“It was hard on the back,” she continued. “And then we had to keep it clean of weeds in the summer. And then during the fall harvest, we had a short-handle curved knife with a hook. You had to whack off the top. I was so young, I had to prop it over my knee and give it a whack.”

Anvik chuckled at the memory and said, “I don’t know how I never cut my leg, but I didn’t.”

Hard work and a lifetime — a century — of memories: Anvik remembers it all. 


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