Travels and Trials:
Area native Hilda Jacobsen recalls nine decades
By Jacilyn Bruns, The Voice News - July 13, 2017
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Jacilyn Bruns, The Voice News
Hilda Jacobsen of Firth shows one of her prized possessions, a glass puppy given to her when she was 6 years old. Jacobsen’s sister got it from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.
Hilda (Steinhausen) Jacobsen celebrated a milestone this week that she never expected – turning 90 years old on July 11.
She was born in 1927 in Rokeby, and went to school there as well. She has three siblings: Marie, Mark, Opal and the late Elsie. Her family lived a quarter of a mile from the Rock Island railroad track so they had a great view of the trains.
“On my 10th birthday, the Rock Island Railroad did a trial run of the Zephyr. I don’t think there’s even a railroad track there anymore,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen was raised on a dairy farm and was involved in 4-H, showing dairy calves and was part of the sewing club. Her family would go to each day of the fair every year.
After graduation from high school, Jacobsen stayed home for about five years.
“The first year or two I raised hens for laying eggs, and after that I raised broiler chickens. For a couple years, we would dress them and sell them. The last couple years I raised Cornish hens,” Jacobsen said.
In about 1950, Jacobsen went to work in downtown Lincoln at the Gold and Company department store. She remembers an event called fall opening, and all the stores downtown would cover their windows
“On this fall opening night, the automobile shops would show their new cars and all the stores had new things in the windows,” Jacobsen said.
At her family’s home, the milk tester would come and test the cows once a month for their cream.
“On my dad’s birthday in October, the milk tester was there; he had to come to our house for dinner because we always fed the milk tester. Feb. 29 we had our first date!” she said.
She married Calvin “Pete” Jacobsen on Nov. 4, 1956.
“I helped him with his testing, did most of the bookwork for him. The last year or two I even did the testing myself at the dairy farm, there were one or two places I could go take the milk and weigh it,” Hilda said.
The Jacobsens had two kids, Linda and Paul. Linda, who had Perthes disease when she was young, started school in Lincoln.
“Every morning I would put her and her little brother in the back of a little red wagon and pull her to school and come back and get them in the afternoon,”
The Jacobsens moved to Hickman in 1967, when Linda was finishing second grade. Paul went to Norris School all 13 years.
They then moved to Firth in 1980. Pete tested milk for a few months and until he retired.
“After he retired, we went fishing about three to four days a week,” Hilda said.
Pete died from cancer April 30, 1986.
After that, Hilda started traveling on a lot of tours. “Besides some on the east coast, I’ve been in almost every state. I have lots of good memories of the tours I took,” Hilda said.
The best tour she ever took was in 1984 when Pete was still living. Hilda’s sister Elsie and her husband, Truman Sieck, lived in Colorado.
“We went to Colorado with them on our tour, we were gone just exactly a month,” Hilda said.
Sieck, who now lives with Hilda, said they took a 30-foot fifth wheel trailer, met at Lake McConaughy, and even took the dog along. They visited Dillon Reservoir in Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; Washington state and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
“That’s what they call togetherness!” Sieck said.
Hilda said she has many, many memories of her tour travels.
“I remember in Alaska and we got on a helicopter and landed on a glacier,” she said.
But along with the good times, there were also bad times. Going through a steep highway in Arizona once, her bus’s engine blew out.
“We all had to get on the other bus so that made it kind of crowded,” Hilda said.
Elsie and Truman Sieck had six children, three boys and three girls. Elsie died from cancer Feb. 5, 2008 at age 90. Today, Truman has many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Hilda married Truman May 3, 2009, and they’ve known each other over 70 years.
“We didn’t get a Nebraska marriage license, we got married in the church by the minister, so we have our church’s marriage certificate,” Truman said. “Colorado would call it common law marriage after five years of living together.”
The last bus tour Hilda went on was to Branson in 2014, where she fell and broke her femur, near her hip. Hilda also went blind in her left eye about ten years ago. The only traveling Hilda and Truman do now is back forth between here and Colorado. Truman has a place in Crook, Colo., as well as two sons that live there.
Hilda has always been a pet lover, and likes to grow flowers. She also has done a lot of crocheting throughout her lifetime. Two afghans lay on her couch, one she made that during her years at home after high school, and the other she made after Pete died.
Hilda enjoys playing cards with friends and going to Firth’s Senior Diners, which she has been attending since 1986. In the past, she was in an extension club and belonged to Firth’s American Legion Auxiliary until it disbanded.
She always been active in church activities. She was born, raised and baptized in the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church (later the United Church of Christ) in Rokeby. While living in Hickman, Hilda and Pete belonged to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Today, Hilda belongs to Living Life Reformed Church in Firth.
“Every day that I’m alive I thank God for! I never thought I would live this long,” Hilda said.
Hilda has a history of longevity in her genes. She doesn’t know if she’ll live to 100, but there’s a good chance that she will. Her mother was 96 and had three siblings that lived to be 90. Hilda had one sister that lived to 100, Elsie was 90 and another sister will be 92 in November.
“I counted up the other day, I probably have 11 cousins that lived to be over 90, three of them were over 100,” Hilda said. “So I don’t know what to expect. I didn’t expect to live to be 90!”
Hilda said her milestone birthday plans are pretty low-key.
“I’ll relax at home and try to stay cool,” Jacobsen said.
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