Frances Scoles became a competent first-base player very quickly. As the only girl for eight years at Owens School in Richland Township, she had to play, or be left to fend for herself at recess. Turning 105 on August 12, Frances reminisced about her elementary school days in a one-room schoolhouse, as well as some momentous events in history that she had witnessed.
A resident of Maple Crest Senior Living Village for the past year, Frances was still opening cards nearly two weeks after her birthday. She generously shared a large box of candy, sent from her nephew in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Her long life shouldn’t be too surprising. She’s from a family of 14 children, and four have lived past 100 years old.
After completing the 8th grade at Owens, Frances attended Bluffton High School … arriving there in a variety of conveyances. As a freshman, she rode in a horse and buggy; as a sophomore, her older sister drove her to school in a roadster that her father had purchased. In her junior and senior years, she had the distinction of riding the first school bus in the township.
Adulthood in Bluffton
From Bluffton High School, she followed in her sisters’ footsteps and enrolled at Bluffton (College) University to become a teacher. After two years, she discovered that, “teaching just wasn’t for me,” and left college to work at Bluffton’s Triplett Corporation.
“I worked at a long table with Blanche Triplett,” she recalled. “I think some of the other workers were intimidated at the thought of working with Blanche, but we got along fine.” The company made electronic testing meters and sold to an international market. Frances was responsible for shipping the right meters to the right countries. She loved her job and a few years after she left, she ran into her former supervisor downtown. “He asked me when I was coming back to work,” she laughed. “He said they needed two workers to replace me.”
Guy Scoles, a printer at The Bluffton News, and Frances were married in 1936. They had five children, four boys and a girl. Four of them are still living, along with nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, who are spread throughout the U.S.
“I was a volunteer at Bluffton Hospital for about 30 years and also volunteered with the 4-H Clubs,” she added. Although not “officially” farmers, Frances and Guy had a few acres where she learned about gardening and discovered that she loved working outdoors.
There aren’t many people around today who can say they’ve lived through both World Wars. Just a baby when World War I broke out, Frances doesn’t remember much about it, but she vividly remembers World War II, sadly, since she lost her youngest brother in Okinawa. “I remember sugar and gasoline being rationed, too,” she added.
Her most memorable historic event was Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. “I just sat all day and night and listened to the radio,” she remembered. “And to think he was from Ohio, and not very far away at that.”
Frances also experienced many medical breakthroughs, including the discovery of penicillin in 1928, the polio vaccine, and treatment for osteomyelitis, a bone infection that nearly took her life at age 9.
“The local doctors didn’t know what it was,” Frances emphasized, “and the doctors in Findlay wouldn’t attempt to treat it. Finally, a doctor from St. Mary’s came to Bluffton and operated on me. He came from out of town to save a little farm girl.”
As farm girls, Frances and her friends didn’t have a lot of leisure time, but they occasionally went to the movies at Bluffton’s theater. She thinks her family was one of the last in the area to get a television set. “No time for TV,” she laughed. Still, she liked watching “I Love Lucy” and “The Lawrence Welk Show” and today watches the re-runs when she can.
Looking back, Frances has learned the importance of family, and shows photos of her children, grandchildren, and their families. “I’m glad that I encouraged a love of music in all of my children,” she added. As for hobbies, she is big football fan. “With four sons and two grandsons who graduated from The Ohio State University, I just can’t help being a Buckeye,” she said proudly.