Jean Hicks seems to take life as it comes, and a saying with that idea in mind is one she thought might make good body ink.
?I?m not a tattoo person, but if I was to get one, it would be, ?So be it,?? the Asbury Park resident said, sitting on a pink recliner in her living room. ?I just kinda like the way that sounds. I don?t know how it would look, but I like the sound of it.?
Thinking positively encompasses her philosophy of life, which is to ?live, laugh, love and be happy,? the soon-to-be 80-year-old mother of three said on a warm summer day.
Hicks will turn 80 on Sept. 19, as she was born in 1933, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. She lived most of her life in Satanta, a town named after a Native American chief. Hicks calls Satanta a ?delightful town,? with a population of about 1,200 the last she knew. She and her husband, Russell, who passed away in 1992, had three children: Sherri Rawlins, who is an administrator at Prairie View; Robert Hicks, who works the family farm; and Randall Hicks, a welder.
Jean Hicks and Russell were married for almost 40 years.
?We were farmers,? Hicks said.
They grew wheat, corn and milo and had some livestock?mostly cows and pigs. They also had sheep for about three years at one point. Son Robert was in charge of the sheep.
?My husband was a cattle man,? Hicks said, but she enjoyed the sheep more.
?I liked working with the sheep,? a laughing Hicks said. ?Cattle will run over you. Sheep will gather around you, but they won?t run over you.?
Their farm is in its third generation of family owners. Hicks grew up on the farm and later she and her husband bought it from her mother, Vira Winsted. Now, the farm is in Robert?s hands.
Hicks called herself a farm wife, since she carried out farm duties?and said she loved it.
?I started out driving truck, doing harvest and just worked on up to the rest of it,? she said. ?Farm help was hard to get. Mostly, I did the sweeps or plowing, whatever.?
One time, Hicks dug the furrows for planting, but her husband redid them because they weren?t straight enough.
They worked long hours and repaired machinery despite the weather, whether in the freezing cold or blistering heat of Kansas. There?s very little shade in southwest Kansas, she said.
In addition to farming, Hicks has tried her hands at many things. In fact, when her daughter asked Hicks how she knows how to do so many things, she replied, ?It?s from having the nerve to try different things.?
?Just jump in and do it,? Hicks said. ?Give it a try.?
Along these lines, Hicks wasn?t just involved in farming as a career?she also was co-owner of a flower shop in Satanta called Love Buds. A friend wanted to go into business with her, so Hicks worked under her friend for a year and then went to design school at the age of 48. After school, she worked there four more years before buying her friend out and running the business another five years.
?So, a total of 10 years in that business,? Hicks said.
In 1992, Hicks? husband was having health problems, and a woman wanted to buy the store. Russell died that year, and the sale of the shop was effective in January 1993. At that time, Hicks went to work at a flower shop in Ulysses.
?I was driving 14 miles to town every day and don?t think there was any day I wished I didn?t have to go to work, but I missed the tractor-driving time,? Hicks said.
She said the tractor-driving time was her quiet time, where she did a lot of thinking.
Also after Russell passed away, Hicks? mother moved to the farm, and she and Hicks stayed there until 1997, when they moved to Newton. Hicks lived in Newton for 10 years, and during that time she worked at Designs by John. Hicks? mother ended up residing at Halstead Health & Rehabilitation ? she lived five months shy of reaching the century mark. Hicks also resided in Missouri for two years, moving there in February 2011. In March, Hicks moved back to Newton to be closer to her children, settling in Asbury Park. She said enjoys it.
?People are friendly (at Asbury Park),? Hicks said. ?There?s lots you can do here ? lots of volunteering.?
Her volunteering at Asbury Park includes helping residents in wheelchairs find their way to the Sunday chapel service.
Hicks has helped many people in various jobs and volunteer work, and she does it for the companionship.
?For the enjoyment of it ? I?m a people person,? she said. ?If I was confined to the house, I don?t think I could take that very well.?
Hicks also has volunteered as a cook for Circles of Hope meals at First United Methodist Church in Newton and has helped with the Senior Companion Program in Newton for seven years. In the latter program, volunteers are matched with elderly clients, and Hicks had the responsibility of taking people to appointments and eating breakfast twice a week with one client.
?He always wanted to go to CJ?s Pancake House,? Hicks said.
Hicks also has a variety of hobbies, some of which are ongoing and some are in the past, as she likes to try new things.
?I think my trademark is I jump in on things I don?t know much about,? Hicks said.
Not knowing much about these things doesn?t seem to hamper her enthusiasm.
For example, Hicks wanted to make a bed covering.
?I?d never made a quilt before,? she said. ?I picked a pattern. I looked in (a) book, and that?s the one I liked.?
Hicks carried her love of flowers into the quilt, as it features hand-appliqu?d blossoms. It also incorporates embroidered names of her children and their spouses, grandchildren and husband, not to mention her name, as well. The quilt, which rests on her bed, is tied, and she did the binding herself.
Family seems to be quite important to Hicks. Photos of jer loved ones are scattered throughout her bedroom, and an embroidered family tree she made hangs on the wall above her bed. The tree goes back as far as Russell?s parents; his father was born in 1873.
?I tried to do their name in their birthstone colors,? Hicks said.
Also in her bedroom is a teddy bear made from her mother?s mink stole. The bear is named Fin, which was her mother?s nickname. Her mother, who was a twin, was born in 1905 and played basketball.
Hicks has carried her sense of adventure into volunteer work and hobbies, which involve sewing and working with a sewing group, to name a couple. She made curtains for the Prairie View school and curtains for granddaughter Elisa?s classroom at Moran.
Hicks received letters of thanks from the children at Prairie View and has the letters displayed on her kitchen wall.
?I was so proud of those,? Hicks said of the letters. ?I just thought that was really neat.? Then Hicks corrected herself, saying, ?Pleased with the letters. It?s kinda hard to keep that word (proud) out of your vocabulary, I think.?
Earlier, Hicks had said, ?You know, they say pride goeth before a fall, so I try not to say (I?m) proud. I say, ?I?m pleased.? And I?m really pleased with my family.?
Hicks works with a sewing group at Trinity Heights United Methodist Church, the church she attends. She stuffs pillows, which are given to patients at Newton Medical Center.
?I know they?ve made a lot of them,? Hicks said.
Initially, the group had asked her to quilt, but she told them they did not want her to quilt, so she stuffs pillows.
Hicks also has made balaclavas for Afghanistan and son Robert, welding caps for son Randall, do-rags for son Robert and many corn bags for family and friends. Corn bags are heated in the microwave and provide relief for aching muscles. A balaclava is a ski mask or helmet that covers the entire head, exposing only the eyes.
?I don?t know how many of those I?ve made,? Hicks said.
Hicks also likes to do word searches, crochet, embroider, play cards, bake and read. She?s also going to the senior center to relearn Pinochle and to play cards.
What does Hicks like to bake?
?Anything,? she said. ?If I?m trying a new recipe, it?s more apt to be a dessert item than a salad. Who wants a salad when you can have sweets? I don?t allow myself sweets too often, but that doesn?t mean I don?t think about it.?
Another of Hicks? involvements includes belonging to the Challengers Sunday school class at Trinity Heights. She calls the group ?a good bunch.?
Years before, when Hicks was in high school, she tried her hand at something new, blazing a trail. She and another senior girl took Woodworking I with the freshmen boys. They were the first girls to take woodworking at the school.
?I loved that ? loved working with the wood,? Hicks said.
About blazing a trail for girls to take woodworking at her high school, Hicks said about herself, with a smile on her face, ?Some people would use the term troublemaker, I think.?
Her first project was squaring a board, and she also made a pig breadboard and two shelves. Her last project was a cedar chest.
?One of (the pig?s) hind legs was very thin,? Hicks said. ?We laughed about that for years.?
Also while in high school, Hicks took three years of home economics.
?I don?t (sew) much clothing anymore,? she said. ?In fact, I don?t do any clothing anymore.?
Thinking of others runs in Hicks? family. As she was growing up, Hicks said her mother had some advice, which Hicks seems to have followed.
?Our mother said to have a friend, be one,??Hicks said. ?She was a happy person. I think everybody loved her.?
Photos and story by?Wendy Nugent