On May 27, 1887, a bushel of wheat went for 90 cents, President Cleveland was vacationing in the Adirondacks, steamships chugged up the Mississippi River and Ogdenite Lena Pearl Crouse was born.
On May 27, 1989, a bushel of wheat goes for $5.04, President Bush is in Europe for a NATO summit, mile-long barges churn up the mighty Mississippi and Lena Pearl Crouse is riding a motorcycle.That's right, at 102 years old, Lena Pearl Crouse is riding a motorcycle.
Actually, Crouse was only 101 when she climbed aboard the sidecar piloted by motorcycle dealer Paul Carey. Saturday, however, she turns 102, knowing her two birthday wishes had come true.
For this year's birthday, Crouse wanted a ride on a motorcycle - something she'd never done in her 102 years - and another ride on a horse-drawn carriage, something she hadn't done for the better part of this century.
With the help of Aspen Care Center, Crouse's nursing home in Ogden, and KISN radio in Salt Lake City, Crouse was able to make her birthday wishes come true.
While tooling about on a two-wheeler may seem a bit heroic for a centenarian, the activity is a fairly pedestrian compared to another birthday adventure.
When she broke 100, Crouse asked for and received her first flight on an airplane. "This sure beats milking cows," she said of the endeavor, recalling the 30 cows she milked as a young girl.
KISN radio hosts Fischer and Todd learned of Crouse's interest in flying two years ago and helped her arrange the flight. This year, knowing Crouse's big day approached, the two called Aspen Care to learn her birthday wishes.
Arranging the motorcycle cruise and carriage ride were no problem for the two. The radio duo found volunteers for both after announcing the need for a bike and driver as well as a horse and carriage over the air.
Friday morning, a small crowd gathered on the east side of the City-County Building as Crouse arrived from Ogden in a limousine and climbed aboard a wheelchair to be fitted with jacket and helmet for the motorcycle ride.
Astride her sidecar, Crouse toured Washington Square at a top speed of 5 mph _ apparently not very fast for the 102-year-old thrill seeker. "She actually fell asleep around the corner," Carey reported.
Crouse perked up, however, for a proclamation in her honor awarded by Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis. "She's older than this building," DePaulis said, referring to the 95-year-old City-County Building.
After thanking DePaulis, Crouse was helped aboard the awaiting carriage and escorted around Washington Square. "It's been some time," Crouse said of her first ride in a horse-powered carriage in decades.
Crouse, appearing frail but clearly pleased by the attention and excitement of the morning, is in remarkably good health, great-nephew Clyde Meyers, of Ogden, said.
"I'm really impressed. I can't believe she gets along as she does at the age of 102," he said.
Explaining her good condition, Meyers said Crouse doesn't smoke, takes good care of herself, "and has a little nip of peach brandy every once in while."
The formula has worked for more than a century now, and will continue to serve Crouse. Next year, Fischer and Todd, otherwise known as Scott Fischer and Todd Collard, say they're planning a hot-air-balloon ride for Crouse.
"She's just never lost her desire to try new things," said Fischer. "She's never used old age as an excuse to stop."