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Happy One Hundred

Cherry Creek Native Hits Milestone Birthday

Five generations of the Hodges family gathered for a portrait. Pictured are Larry Hodges, Jr., Martha Belle Hodges, great granddaughter Chantel Abbey Pawenski holding great-great-granddaughter Autumn, and granddaughter Mia Abbey. Submitted photo

CHERRY CREEK — A popular song from the 1960s talked about “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.”

Move over, Pasadena, there’s a lady from Cherry Creek that is about to join you in history.

She is Martha Belle Hodges, and she will be celebrating 100 years of life on Saturday. She rode her son’s motorcycle at age 90, and again at age 96.

Hodges has accomplished much in her life, although she doesn’t talk much about that. She has seen and experienced much in her life, but she will be the first to tell you that her greatest achievements are her marriage, her family and her friendships.

Martha Belle Hodges was born Nov. 21, 1920, in Cherry Creek, where she has resided for 93 of her 100 years. She was born to Eva (Kellogg) and Earl Young, who resided on Railroad Avenue in the former village. She joined elder brother, Lester, completing the family unit.

She attended the Cherry Creek Union School, graduating third in her class in 1938. She was very active in school plays and loved to dance. She would further her education with studies at the University of Buffalo and Jamestown Business College.

She became the bride of Lawrence Hodges May 12, 1941. The couple would be separated by World War II, with Larry serving in England, on D-Day, then on to France and Germany. Hodges has stated many times that those days were the most trying and saddest days of her life. She has said, “People these days are lucky. They have email and phone calls. We had to wait for letters.”

Being an Army wife, she moved to Pine Camp, N.Y., which is now known as Fort Drum, near Watertown, where she made a tiny cabin into a home. The couple soon welcomed their first child, Lawrence Jr. The family would soon relocate to Brownwood, Texas. Martha Belle would follow him there, quite an adventure at the time, considering that Larry Jr. was still a baby. It was a pretty big deal at that time for a young woman from Cherry Creek to travel all the way to Texas with a baby. She reminisced that she was allotted $7 per week for groceries for the family at that time.

Larry Hodges Sr. came home from the Army in 1945 and the family moved to Southside Avenue in Cherry Creek. The couple paid a monthly mortgage payment of $15. In 1954, the family moved to Center Street, as Corky (Merrill) and Judy were born. Larry Jr. would marry and raise his family there. It remains his current residence.

Hodges is the matriarch of the family which now includes five grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren. There are now five generations of her family living in Cherry Creek.

Hodges would also own and operate, in partnership with her father, the Red and White Store in Cherry Creek, which is currently owned by Mendle Johnson and is now known as Crossroads Grocery.

In 1981, she would move into a mobile home on Center Street, next to her eldest son. That was her home until age and health required a move to Heritage Village in Gerry. Her great granddaughter, Chantel Pawenski resides there now with her family.

Hodges has been a lifetime member of the Cherry Creek United Methodist Church, where she “must have done a million dinners,” according to daughter Judy Hein.

“She also made and sold thousands of pairs of homemade slipper sox at church dinners and craft bazaars. She made them for 40 years.”

It was mentioned earlier that friendships are considered by Hodges as one of her greatest achievements. She has outlived her closest friends. But a story about Martha Belle has to include two of her closest friends: Barbara Young Hendricks and Peg Waite. Where one of the group was, the other two were close at hand. The trio’s Thursday Afternoon Card Club has become part of the legendary lore in the small hamlet in the north county. Their names are synonymous with the game Hand n’ Foot. Hodges and Young even traveled to Hawaii for a vacation together, with Youngs first child, Wendy. It was something they just wanted to do — and it was another shared experience that cemented their friendship.

The main things she would like to be remembered for: her chocolate chip cookies and her laugh.

Due to the pandemic, visits at Heritage Village have been suspended. To commemorate Hodges’ landmark birthday, her family is requesting that cards would be sent to her at: Martha Belle Hodges, Heritage Village, 4670 Route 60, Gerry, New York, 14740, Room 83 East Wing.

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