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Vintage Views: Sylvia King will have 100th birthday soon

  • Sylvia King welcomes her one-hundredth year on Oct. 1. Courtesy of Lisa Richardson

For the Monitor
Published: 9/25/2021 8:05:34 PM

There are centuries that pass, the days as fleeting as the seasons that come and go peacefully. The pages of the calendar turn and people are born, while some sadly pass. Transitions are a part of life and quickly forgotten as the next generation arrives and the last departs. Some people are interested in history while other people simply might not be. This is life and we accept the days that we are granted.

There are some people that find the pages of the calendar are turned for many additional days, months and years. People that are blessed with more time, people that embrace their days and enjoy their moments. These are the people that have developed like a fine patina and understand the value of the moments that pass and place extra emphasis by living a life that is sincere and pure. Those special people that walk the earth for a century or more, our centenarians.

I am very fortunate to have a special friend that knows the value of time. Her name is Sylvia King and she celebrates a very special day on Oct. 1, she celebrates the day that she becomes one hundred years old. Sylvia was born on Oct. 1, 1921 in Concord just across the street from Long Pond. A quiet place in a town that was smaller and less populated. A year that was to be followed by many momentous days in history, some of those days to celebrate jubilantly and some days darkened with moments of sadness. As a community both the happiness and the sadness were lived with hope for a better future and confidence that dreams would be fulfilled and only the goodness life offers would be found ahead. Sylvia King lived her life here and welcomed both the good days and the sad days with a level of acceptance not many people possess. Special people such as Sylvia have a unique gift, goodness within their hearts.

It was during her life that history continued to be written. Events that we read about in our history books were known first hand by Sylvia. The year she was born Warren Harding was inaugurated as our 29th President. Calvin Coolidge succeeded him in 1923 when Harding passed away unexpectantly.

It was Charles Lindbergh that made the first transatlantic flight nonstop in his beloved plane The Spirit of St. Louis in the year 1927.

Herbert Hoover was inaugurated president in 1929 when the stock market crashed leading the way to the great depression that followed.

Sylvia saw the “Star-Spangled Banner” adopted as the National Anthem in 1931 and sadly the arrival of World War II ten years later.

The United Nations was established in 1941 followed a decade later by the Korean War and the war in Vietnam.

We landed men on the moon, witnessed the tragic assassinations of President Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King during the decade of the 1960s with so many more historic events to follow.

Sylvia was here in Concord as we celebrated the selection of the first teacher in space followed by the space shuttle Challenger disaster. She once again saw war arrive and realized that some people do not learn about peace, as the war in the Middle East escalated into many young men and woman making the ultimate sacrifice.

Sylvia has seen and learned from history. She has witnessed many events in her century of life. Since her birth in that little house across from Long Pond she has also experienced the emotions that a long life lived well provides.

She was born into a loving family. Her parents were Ulderic and Eva (Dubois) Racine and they provided for their children with care and attention. Sylvia lost her mother to spinal meningitis in April 1925 leaving her father to care for the children. In his search to provide for his children, Ulderic had to place his three daughters in the Notre Dame Orphanage in Manchester. Her brother Ernest initially was relocated to his maternal grandmother’s home. Sylvia and her sisters Loretta and Juliette continued their education at the orphanage and were joined by their sister Margarette in 1929. In 1931, her sister Loretta passed away at the orphanage as a result of typhoid. In 1932, the surviving children were relocated to the St. Peters Orphanage on Kelly Street in Manchester where they remained until 1934. It was in June of 1934 that Ulderic arrived at the St. Peters Orphanage and gathered his children. As they drove away in route to Concord, he told them they would never return to another orphanage and Sylvia was relocated with her aunt and uncle in Concord, and reunited as a family in 1935 with her father and paternal grandmother Racine. The journey was difficult and the loss most certainly felt, but the family was once again together.

As Sylvia continued her journey, she was enrolled at Concord High School. In 1939 she fell in love with the boy next door. His name was Francis John Spain, Jr. and young Francis, nicknamed Blizzard, had also found his true love. Sylvia graduated from Concord High School in 1940 and married the boy next door on January 26, 1942.

Our country was once again visited by war as the local young men and woman continued to enlist in the military, Blizzard was a patriotic young man and wished to serve his country. Just a few short weeks after Sylvia and Blizzard Spain were married, he reported for duty on Feb.  3, 1942. Francis John Spain Jr., affectionately known as Blizzard, became a Military Police Officer. It was within ten months that her new husband was seriously injured while on military maneuvers and he sadly passed away on Dec. 14, 1942.

Sadness consumed his family and many friends here in Concord, but sometimes blessings arrive during the darkest hours. On Feb. 18, 1943 Sylvia gave birth to a son, her only child, Francis John Spain III. There are times in life when we are subjected to much hardship but there is still joy.

Sylvia Racine Spain King raised her son here in Concord. Her only child became a fine young man and continues to walk in the shadow of his father before. There certainly are blessings in your darkest hours.

As the years progressed and her son grew, she met and fell in love once again. It was on May 22, 1954 that Sylvia walked down the aisle once again and married Wilfred King. They lived their lives the following years in peace and with fulfillment. Where there is sadness, we sometimes find happiness, but it is important to remain optimistic and positive while planning your life and living your plan.

My dear friend Sylvia is proud to be self sufficient still, she is sweet and filled with compassion. She is friendly and everybody she meets is of interest to her. She can be tough, but that’s what survivors are suppose to be. Sylvia is a natural teacher, sharing her thoughts and knowledge with her grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as her many friends. She is often quoted as saying “never look in a mirror, you are only as old as you feel.”

Sylvia is a very accomplished seamstress as well as perfecting the art of knitting. She has never taken naps, will never give up on her hobbies and continues to write a daily plan each day. She is a gifted storyteller and has shared her living history with me, time and again. She speaks freely about the time Betty Davis stopped in her neighborhood at a store en route to the lake’s region. She tells me about the time Charles Lindbergh flew over her orphanage and waved to her and the other children.

Please join me in wishing my very dear friend a very happy 100th birthday this Oct. 1.

Yes, transitions are a part of life and quickly forgotten, but I can assure you, I will never forget Sylvia Racine Spain King.



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