A 10-year-old girl, living on a farm outside of Belfield, gleefully smiles in excitement as she sees her father coming in from town in a brand new 1929 Ford Model A. Running barefoot out the front door through the fields, she catches up to her brothers who had been working the land and together they rush to greet their father. Nearly a century later, Sara Buckman shares her memories -- memories that stretch as far back as the Roaring ‘20s.
Sara Buckman was born July 9, 1919, the youngest of six siblings, but is now the oldest living member of her family. Her brother’s names were John, Glen and Lewis, her sisters, Gladis and Fern. Today she is a great grandmother, a widow, a mother of four and beloved by her community.
What a difference a day makes, from 99 to 100 years of life, nostalgia covers Sara as she sits in her wheelchair surrounded by her family inside the Trapper’s Kettle in Belfield. Continuously being embraced by her family's love, she shares her history, personal stories of her childhood, her beautifully unique marriage ceremony and even a few congenial memories embodying the phrase, “North Dakota nice.”
Aged hands reach out and hold a very special Christmas gift. The gift, one she received from her father at the age of 5, has been in her possession for all these years. The wicker doll buggy may be kept in storage on most days, but is always in her heart.
Buckman, who always loved to dance, shared how her older brother, Lewis, taught her how to dance and that he was her favorite dance partner when they held the local barn dances -- despite her brothers picking on her as she was the baby in the family.
Buckman shared a tale of how her brothers once picked up her whole bed and placed it outside the house while she slept because she was sleeping in late -- a habit she gushingly admits to still keeping today.
“Oh my gosh, tease me they did, they did a lot of that to their little sister but I survived it all,” Buckman laughed.
Smirking, she recalled the times her brother, John, would have to get out of the car to crank the engine, and how she’d laugh every time they killed it trying to turn it over.
A heart for traveling, which was perfect because she married an Army man in 1943, Buckman recounted her many adventures outside of the state. In fact, she had to travel across state lines to Montana to marry her husband, Bill Buckman because during his furlough from World War II, they decided to get married and it took over a week to apply for a wedding license in North Dakota at the time.
Driving to Montana with her two friends and witnesses, Lacey and Eleanor, there was uncertainty that they were making the right choice to have their wedding away from home and family -- but serendipity came into play as the church organist, where they had their wedding turned out to be her father’s cousin.
“This woman saw us come in, and it was dad’s cousin. … So we had the whole family there without knowing it,” said Buckman with a chuckle.
As a mother, Buckman was constantly cooking and sewing for her family. Her mother was a seamstress who could make a dress without a pattern and had taught her enough to make dresses and coats.
Passing knowledge down from one generation to another was the way things were, she said.
She taught her children to love the Lord and was even the Sunday school teacher.
Her daughter, Ruth Molm, recalled a winter in the 60s where the weather was so bad that the interstate was closed and you couldn’t see anything on the roads. Strangers stranded on the highway, who could only see the light of the Buckman home, came searching for sanctuary. She recalled how her mother opened her home to all of them -- even making pancakes in the morning after the harsh storm finally settled.
“Mom has the gift of hospitality,” said Molm when recalling her mother’s good deeds to those weary travelers.
When the topic of food came up, everyone had their favorite meal or dessert item they loved for Buckman to cook. From roast beef to cream corn and juneberry pie to angel food cake, each in attendance shared their favorite Buckman treat -- including the famed Buckman waffle night with Karo syrup. Buckman loved to cook and kept all her many secret recipes in a wooden box.
Buckman’s mind is strong and her memories very much alive in her old age. She shared her sweetest memory with her gathered family about her husband. Buckman said she adored him and swooned whenever he would hold her close and sing into her ear the song “Blue-Berry Hill.”
When prompted, she said she had no real secrets to a long and healthy life, but behind a soft smile and even softer voice her secret was revealed -- fond memories and loved ones to share them with.