When Isabel Chambers played basketball in high school, the game had only been seen as a demonstration sport in the Olympics.
When Isabel Chambers played basketball in high school, the game had only been seen as a demonstration sport in the Olympics. Telephones were cranked by hand, as were washing machines, and news film could only be seen at the movie theatre.
"When I was a kid, if they made 20 bushels to the acre, it was good. This year, they hit 100. I just can't believe it. Wheat was 20 cents a bushel," Isabel said.
Isabel turned 103 years old on Wednesday. Her family came in to celebrate with her this week, bringing cake and hearing stories of her history.
Born in 1913 and raised in Moundridge as one of seven children, Isabel's dad died when she was four years old. Her mother moved the family from the farm into town, where Isabel would recall playing on the street corner.
"We just made our own fun," Isabel said.
Isabel said school life was much different when she was growing up.
"We were in this Mennonite community. There were a lot of restrictions, but they didn't have the troubles they are having today. That's what the teachers are up against," Isabel said.
Isabel graduated from Moundridge High School in 1931 and said she had many good memories of her school days.
"I can remember more from 1929 on, because that's when things fell apart. When I graduated in 1931...maybe two or three kids went to college," Isabel recalled.
After high school, Isabel worked for Kansas Power and Light, which led her to meet Ray Chambers, the man she would marry in 1933.
The couple had two children — R.A. and Roxanne. Isabel now has five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren.
"It's been a good life; a very good life," Isabel said. "I'm just really fortunate."
In her life, Isabel enjoyed doing needlepoint, quilting, roller skating, square dancing, traveling and volunteering at her church.
"If you need a companion, (church) is a good place to go to," Isabel said.
"She canned up until this year, and I said no more," said Isabel's daughter, Roxanne.
Isabel remembers the downtown stores in McPherson that have since closed.
"When we came here, there was two big dry goods stores that we don't have anymore," Isabel recalled.
Isabel remembers constantly fighting dust, which made hanging laundry out to dry a challenge. She said she would have to put a damp sheet over her babies to keep the dust off of them as well.
"We didn't all have sweepers then," Isabel said. "Very few people had a sweeper."
Through her life, Isabel's love for basketball has never waned.
"Moundridge always had a good team. I've been a basketball nut ever since," Isabel said.
"That woman has watched every KU basketball game that's ever been on TV," said her son, R. A. Chambers, adding that when he took her to a professional basketball game in Indianapolis, Isabel could tell him about each player.
"She's a KU fan, but she remembers all the better players that went on to the NBA, and she follows the players," Roxanne said. "She's got all their names in her head."
Isabel remembers seeing Brad Underwood, who is now the head basketball coach for Oklahoma State, playing baseball at his grandmother's house, which just happened to be across the street from her own home.
"That kid would hit that ball past the alley and I thought, 'He's an athlete.' So I've followed Brad ever since he was five years old," Isabel said.
Isabel's husband died in 2002. When Roxanne's husband died in 2006, she came to take care of her mother, who has always enjoyed living in Kansas.
"I'd put (Kansas) up against any state. I think we're sitting pretty good," Isabel said. "Right now, the wheat is so beautiful...this is a good place to be. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Isabel said her advice to young people is for them to "be honest and respectful" and "find a good church home."
"I can't believe I'm going to be 103. It just creeps up on you," Isabel said.