"Along the Way": 100 year old woman grew up in town that no longer exists

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN)- They say age is a number and for one woman that age recently reached triple digits.
She's a local woman who grew up in a town that no longer exists, she worked for a mine that's no longer open, and she has a story as rich as gold.
Alice Cann is the subject of this edition of "Along the Way".

This is a poster on the wall of Alice Cann's room, celebrating her 100th birthday and signed by loved ones. It includes pictures of significance in Alice's life. Alice was the subject of our Along the Way segment on 01/08/20.

Her feet are made for walking, and that's just what she's done, for 100 years.

"Alice Lila Margaret Aspen was my maiden name and Cann is my married name. Alice Lila Margaret Aspen Cann," is her full name, she tells us.

Alice was born and raised in the small, former town of Terraville, just outside Lead, on November 11, 1919. Her father worked at the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead.

"Our bathroom was a wooden shed up. You had to climb a bunch of stairs to get there. I often wondered how my mother made it when she was pregnant," Alice says as she talks about the family home in Terraville.

Alice was the 7th of 8 kids in her family. Convenience is a relative term. They did get to bathe indoors, but in a round metal laundry wash tub.

"We had to carry the buckets of hot water up from the kitchen sink. We had to work to have a bath," she says.

Their walk to school included a tunnel, that went from Terraville to Lead.

"It had just a small sidewalk at the side but when the train came, we couldn't be on the sidewalk. We had to stand back in the timbers," Alice says, when describing the walk.

Yep, they had to share the tunnel with trains. She, and the boy who would ultimately become her husband, were both from Terraville.

"My husband Phil would run down the tramway again, ran down those steps and met me while I was walking to school," she says, remembering those days so many decades ago.

They were married

"December 28, 1940," Alice says.

Alice worked at Homestake before her marriage.

"But at that time if you were married you couldn't work for Homestake. So when I got married I had to quit Homestake," Alice recalls.

She remembers her marriage as among the best times of her life. They had two children together, Nancy and Janice. Her husband Phil worked at Homestake as a welder. They were married for 18 years until Phil passed away. Their two girls were still growing up.

"She's been a wonderful mother" her daughter's Nancy and Janice tell us. "She has. She really has." Her daughter's were both there, celebrating their mother, as we gathered for the interview.

She went to back to work at Homestake after Phil passed away. Eventually she became the head secretary for the head of Homestake, the Mine Manager, in fact 3 different mine managers over the years.

"I liked it and they were all good to me. We all got along good," she remembers about her days working for the iconic Homestake Mine.

According to her family, their hometown of Terraville was bulldozed in the early 80's for mining purposes. Now at the century mark: her secret to longevity?

"I never drank or smoked, maybe that helped," Alice says.

Alice, is a peaceful woman, the last survivor of the 8 kids in her family.

"In my family of 8 of us, we never did fight with each other or hit each other, we always got along. I've never hit anyone in my life, not yet," Alice says with laughter.

But at age 100, there's still time for just about anything.

The Homestake mine closed in 2002.

Alice never remarried. She still remembers her and Phil's first date. It was a trip to the movie's in Lead.

If you've met someone cool "Along the Way" please call us or e-mail Steve Long at stevel@blackhillsfox.com, to let us know.