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Bonnie Stage tuned 100 this month. Here’s her secret to a long life.

In the heart of Alamogordo lives Bonnie Stage. Stage celebrated her 100th birthday on March 8, a milestone that has been punctuated with military service, travel and adventure.

What’s her secret to living a long life? Well, according to Stage you just have to “live life and have fun.”

Bonnie Stage, a 100-year-old veteran just celebrated her birthday with residents throughout Alamogordo. She said she had five different birthday parties.

100 years of life

Stage said she never really thought about living to see 100 but she is glad she has.

“So, we came here to Alamogordo in 1951 when my husband joined the service again, but we got married in Panama. When I got pregnant, I had to get out of the service which was difficult and now-a-days these girls have it made,” she said as she chuckled.

She said after her husband got out of the service they moved to Washington, although she did not recall the year.

“It was kind of hard living, but I lived up in the mountains with just basic, nothing. There was nothing, no electricity, no water. I cooked on a woodstove, which I never did before. It was all quite the experience,” she said.

“Taking a bath, while everybody is in bed, you put on the big copper bottle and take out your number two tub, fill it up and take your bath. There was an outhouse which I never knew what it was before. There was also a ginny. A ginny is a big pot container that you put under your bed so that if you have to go to the bathroom you take it out and use it instead of going to the outhouse in the middle of the night.”

“You guys have it made,” she said. “I didn’t even have a pump to pump my water and now it’s just so much easier. There were no faucets. Life is really, really exciting at times.”

‘A walking piece of history’

Dennise Beck said when she was serving at Holloman Air Force Base, Stage and her husband Bill, took her under their wing. Their friendship has spanned 27 years, Beck said.

“She’s a walking piece of History! She was in the military in her 20s, she is a ‘ Yellow Coat ‘, she’s been recognized at the Capitol with Twin Tiers, and much more,” Beck said.

Stage said her greatest achievement was her military service, though she prefers to speak about the other adventures that have peppered her life.

Bonnie Stage in the 1950’s when she served as a nurses aide. She said her friend took the original photo and enlarged it.

“I was a T-5 Nurses assistant and that was very adventurous. I worked with paraplegics. It was a bunch of fun; they were a bunch of fellas you would think would be depressed and sad, but they were just having fun. They had a very good attitude, I thought that was awesome. They couldn’t even get out of their wheelchairs or beds, we had to help them,” Stage said.

“I’d ride around on their wheelchairs with them, hop on their lap and roll around. But that’s when the other nurses weren’t around.”

Stage said she is thankful to be able to sit down at her age and recount her tales to her friends.

“I love just sitting down and turning on the TV and thinking ‘Oh yeah, I remember that’ or for instance the guards that would walk around the Berlin Wall,” she said.

Recalling a full life

Stage said the world has indeed changed, and recalled memories of a life pre and post war.

“That to me, in my early days, I worked and worked in a paper factory. I would roller skate, I loved to roller skate, and I love to dance. But we would go from one car to another car, to another car, to another car on roller skates, not anymore,” she said.

She said it’s amazing where life takes you.

“One time I lived on a farm, and we had work horses. You know how big work horses are, so we had two of those and I let those two into the pasture and I heard a loud ‘thump’, and I turned around and those two jumped the fence. I scurried so fast and ran after them I lost my cowboy boots,” Stage said.

“It was quite an experience. Oh my gosh. It’s just such an exciting life when you really think about it. Like here I am living on a farm, never done anything like that, but it’s exciting.”

Mounts of animals such as Pheasants and Antelope hang on Stage’s wall from her late husband who was a hunter. She said she adores having anything up that reminds her of stories throughout her lifetime.

Stage filled her house with knick-knacks, photos and items from her life that she holds dear.

“My house, to me is luxury. It’s a house full of treasure; there are my husband’s pheasants and antelope. Everything I have here is a treasure. I don’t take a thing down. Why? Because it’s not hurting me none. It makes me feel what was going on at the time,” she said.

“I guess you’d say my house is cluttered, but it’s got pictures of things going on in my life. That picture there is of my parents and was taken in 1919 or maybe 1918. It’s just things you get from friends that you put out and can enjoy. Everything is so different when you live through times. The veil, the shoes, the dress are all different from what it is today.”

Bonnie Stage’s parents. Stage said she’s happy to know she was able to see the changes throughout their lifetime and now hers.

Stage said so much has changed from when she was young that she had never heard of people wanting to get together and just chat.

“I never heard of, say for instance, “Hey, I’m going to have a get together come over.” it wasn’t like that in my day. Now, everyone wants together and just have fun. We didn’t have that, it was just helping with the housework and that was about it.,” she said.

When Stage was an employee at a thrift store named the Classy Cat in early 1980, she said downtown Alamogordo only consisted of 9th street and New York and she loved it.

“It was a great place, they had a restaurant, they had a western union they had a sporting store. You should have been here in 1951, it was awesome,” she recalled. “They had a shoe department; I would have thought they would have made 9th downtown.”

Stage celebrated her birthday just days ago and said it is her new favorite memory for the year.

Bonnie Stage, 100-year-old veteran celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday, March 8, 2024 with residents from all over Otero County.

“Just because you’re old you think you’re not going to see your friends anymore, but they do stop by and it’s just awesome. Would you believe I had about three or four birthday parties, I had one with the church and one with my girlfriends and another one with a lot of us girls who worked together and it’s just awesome. You know, my walking is slow, but my talking is fast,” she said as she laughed.

She said now at her age she cannot do much, so she stays home. She makes phone calls for her local church; she’ll walk around the front and backyard for exercise and read on the porch. She said she’s enjoying relaxing.

“I’m so thankful for all my memories. My friends are in their 60’s and 70’s and can associate with people their age but they come and visit me and means a lot. It’s just about enjoying life and what you make of it.”