Jennie Marie Clitty
Interviewed January 12, 2012
By Heidi Ross
Summary by Maria Piork
Jennie was born December 28, 1912 to James & Jennie Everton. Her parents had five children: Pearl, James, Ethel, Jennie and Arvilla. James was born in Utah but moved to Decker, Minnesota during the gold rush, where he later met Jennie. After they got married, both her father and mother worked in the dairy farm they owned. All of the five children pitched in to help. Jennie and her siblings would get up at 5:30am in the morning, five days a week, to milk cows, then get ready for school. Their dairy farm serviced a community of two hundred people and milk products were delivered all over town in a horse and buggy.
The family lived comfortably in a nice four-bedroom home until it tragically burned down in 1924. Her parents consequently built a new home, one that was bigger than the first. This one had a milk house and an icehouse. To prevent spoilage of the dairy products they produced, the family would go to the river in the winter and cut out large chunks of ice 18 inches thick, then bring them back to the farm to insulate the icehouse.
As a child growing up, Jennie loved dolls and her mother taught her how to sew clothes for her dolls. It was a challenge, she explains, but she enjoyed it. Jennie attended Becker High School and graduated in 1929. The following year on July 9, 1930 she married Clarence Clitty, a twenty-three year old minister and trucker. Clarence and Jennie had two children, Raymond and Mary Ann. Raymond died at the age of three due to complications with his appendix. The Clittys lived on the farm they owned until it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. After this, both Clarence and Jennie had to find jobs. Clarence went to work for the Sioux Railroad Line and Jennie became a cook and housekeeper.
When World War II started Clarence joined the military for three years, serving in Okinawa and the Philippines. While her husband was away, Jennie went to work at Honeywell, rebuilding machine parts. Clarence died when Mary Ann was in her early teens. Jennie and Mary Ann remained as a family in Minnesota until 1974, when Mary Ann relocated to Arizona where she started a family of her own. Jennie would come and visit her daughter during Christmastime because she enjoyed the weather. In 2004 Jennie decided to relocate permanently to Chandler to be closer to her daughter. Jennie has three grandchildren: Diann, Lora, and Kathy, and five great grandchildren: Jimmie, Jason, Samantha, James, and Ethan. Her family brings her a lot of joy.
Jennie likes living in Chandler and these days she keeps busy cooking and taking care of her daughter’s cat. She admits to being hooked on Word Search, she believes the game keeps her mind sharp. When asked what the secret to living a long life is, Jennie says “it’s to keep moving, it keeps your joints going. Otherwise you get too weak.” Jennie goes on, “I say work won’t kill you. It keeps you going.”