Aline Friedsam can relax these days, as she did one recent Sunday afternoon while recalling her nearly 100 years of life from an easy chair in her daughter’s Chestnut Mountain home.
But much of her years have been spent in serious labor, from her early days in Marshallville in Middle Georgia, where “everybody had a job,” to her time spent in the Army during World War II.
“I’m still hanging around,” she said, laughing.
And loved ones are recognizing her endurance with a 100th birthday celebration on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Mulberry Creek Community Center in South Hall.
Loved ones from Georgia and neighboring states are arriving to mark the milestone with barbecue and “all the fixings,” plus a cake in the shape of the number 100.
“It will be nice,” daughter Pat Bowman said.
With all the attention she’s getting these day, Friedsam paused for an interview to reflect on a life well spent.
She was born and raised in Thomaston, then later moved with family to Marshallville, about 40 miles south of Macon.
“It was a country town and everybody worked, peach packing and that type of thing,” Friedsam said. “It was a small town. Everybody knew what everybody else was doing.”
Then, World War II broke out.
Two of her brothers entered the service and would go on to serve in Europe, surviving the war to return to Georgia. Moved by their service but also wanting to go to business school, she joined the U.S. Army in 1943.
“She wanted to go to school and, coming from a big family back then, there wasn’t money to send people to school,” Bowman said. “She wanted to further her education.”
Her training led her to a position teaching secretarial skills to soldiers bound for overseas, as women weren’t allowed in such positions overseas, Friedsam said.
“It was very interesting and (soldiers) were very anxious to learn everything they could learn,” she said. “It worked out real good.”
Also, “they kept us busy all the time,” Friedsam said.
She doesn’t have a whole lot of memories from that time, including when the war ended.
But she does remember “at the time I was in, there weren’t many women in the service. They just weren’t joining. They just thought it was a men’s place, I think.”
One significant moment in those years was meeting her future husband, Herman “Tex” Friedsam, who was based at what is now Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, south of Macon, where she also served.
He served in the Army Air Corps (predecessor to the Air Force) and at one time was stationed in Guam, working as a mechanic.
After the war, he “came back to Georgia and farmed,” Bowman said.
Herman and Aline, who had risen to the rank of lieutenant before leaving the Army in 1945, also got married.
Aline was one of the first civilians to work at Robins Air Force Base after the war, Pat said.
She would go on to help her husband raise beef cattle and sheep. She also was the secretary for a state sheep breeders group.
Bowman recalled her mom “worked hard in the garden every year, and she did canning and freezing.”
The Friedsams also raised four daughters, including Bowman, who ended up marrying a military man and moving around many times. She ended up settling in Hall County in 1991.
Aline’s husband died in 2003, and she moved in with Bowman in 2004. Aline has 8 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
These days, Friedsam is taking life in stride, enjoying days at her daughter’s home. She also reflects on family, as she is the last of her three sisters and four brothers — all who died in their late 70s and 80s.
“They were hard-working folks,” she said.