“I tell people I’ve found the fountain of youth.”
That’s what Edward Ingram of Burleson tells people when they ask him what the secret to living a long life is.
“But I don’t tell anyone where it’s at,” he said. “Could you imagine a country full of 100-year-old people?”
Ingram celebrated his 100th birthday on Oct. 24.
The World War II veteran was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, but didn’t live there for long.
“My dad was a roving kind, so we didn’t stay anywhere too long in one place,” he said. “He was a cotton gin manager.”
Before he turned 1, Ingram said his parents, Henry and Cora Lee, moved their family to Texas.
“My dad had a job I believe in Coleman, and then we moved to Swisher County to Tulia,” he said. “He worked on a ranch there for quite a while and then we moved to Amarillo and then to Southland, then to Hobbs.”
When the Great Depression hit in 1929, Ingram said his father decided to become a sharecropper.
“So we moved to east Texas and spent the depression years in quite a depression,” he said.
As a child, Ingram said he was ornery.
“Looking back, I don’t see how anybody put up with me,” he said. “I was ornery and argumentative. If somebody said something that I didn’t think was true I’d tell them. But, after some years, I grew out of that. I realized that was not the thing to be.”
Ingram graduated from Winnsboro High School in 1937.
“There was a girl and I who rode the bus,” he said. “We were the first two people to ever graduate from our community.”
After graduating, Ingram’s family moved to Quitman.
“I worked for a theater there until I got notice from Uncle Sam,” he said. “I entered the Army March 18, 1942.”
Ingram served for about four years.
“I spent one year in the 90th Infantry Division, located in Abilene,” he said. “One day they told us all to go to the theater for a training film,” he said. “I would never see one because I would be asleep in about five minutes.
“But on this particular day I stayed awake and had to listen to Morse Code for about an hour. I didn’t think anything about it, but about a month later they sent over orders to transfer me over to the signal corps because I made a good grade on that. I don’t know how.”
In the meantime, Ingram’s family moved to Forth Worth.
“From Abilene to Fort Worth is not all that far to go so I’d come home,” he said. “My mother loved theaters. I made the trip home one weekend and we went to see ‘Flying Tigers’ with John Wayne. I said, ‘Well, that’s for me.’
“So then I transferred to the Air Force. I decided I could be a pilot, but that certainly wasn’t to be. The trainer told me it was absolutely dangerous to fly with me. I thought this guy has seen everything and if he says I seem dangerous I better quit this.”
After moving around a bit, Ingram settled in California where he was put in the 7th Radio Intelligence Squadron Mobile Unit.
“I didn’t have a lot to do with the intelligence part, but I ran a direction finder,” he said. “It was a device that located Japanese radio stations. I went overseas in December of 1944 and when I got there I was assigned a job of encoder and decoder of messages. Code clerk is what they called it.
“That was the most interesting job I had. It was a machine called a Sigaba, which was highly secret. I had an incendiary bomb sit right beside it and if I felt I was in danger of being overrun I was to drop that bomb in that machine to make sure it was destroyed.”
After the military, Ingram met his wife, Edith, and worked for General Dynamics for 21 years before being laid off.
“Then I went to the Tandy Corporation for 14 years,” he said. “I decided I had enough money to retire, so I retired. Two years later found out I didn’t have enough money.”
Ingram began working again at Redman Homes in Burleson as a security guard at 69 years old.
“I stayed there nearly 17 years,” he said. “I got laid off, so I called the unemployment office. I told the woman my birthday and finally she asked again when my birthday was. I told her, ‘I guess you don’t really get many 85-year-old people.’”
Now well retired, Ingram is enjoying life in Burleson with his children, Terry, Jerry and Donna, and his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
He celebrated his birthday with a barbecue dinner with family and friends, and again at the Burleson Church of Christ where he has been a member for 35 years.
“The church had a party for me and I got over 100 cards,” he said. “I think I finally read all of them.”
In great health all of his life, Ingram said he’s never done anything out of the ordinary to live to 100.
“In fact, I have always eaten anything I wanted to and as much as I wanted to,” he said. “I never counted calories. I just had wonderful genes from my family.”
© 2019 the Cleburne Times-Review
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