ALEDO, Ill. — Some say age is but a number, but for a few residents of Brookstone of Aledo assisted living, some of those numbers add up to a true milestone.
And if storytelling were a currency, Walter Holstine would certainly be wealthy.
He's documented hundreds of pages of memories from his time growing up near Macomb, IL. When News 8 caught up with him, Holstine had stacks of yellow envelopes stuffed with jotted-down stories, scribbled-on maps and many, many photographs.
There's plenty of material for him to choose from after a long, well-lived life. Holstine was born on February 25, 1923, making him 100 years old in 2023.
During that century, he married his wife, Georgiabelle, and raised five children with her. He fondly recalls his days of walking to elementary school, carrying his lunchbox and hopping five fences on the way.
"Out on the farm, we didn't have electricity even," Holstine said. "That would shock some people today!"
It's a remarkable story, but one that's not done yet.
Molly Paulsgrove was born on Valentine's Day in 1923. making her also 100 years old in 2023. The Fort Madison native is also a Brookstone resident but jokes she doesn't know where the past 100 years have gone.
Back in 1942, Paulsgrove's fiancé got orders to go off to war, prompting her to head out to the McChord Air Force Base in Washington State.
"He wanted me to come out before he was shipped overseas! We were married Christmas Eve of 1942 and he went over there for three years. And I just stayed there," Paulsgrove said.
She worked as a draftsman, building aircraft carrier ships for the navy as the only woman in her department.
"We built the big carriers for the fighting planes. And we really went over that ship with everything," Paulsgrove said.
She stays active, trying to go for walks and bowling on the Wii when she can. But Paulsgrove said the last 100 years have gone by extremely fast.
Nowadays, she says the secret to a long life is twofold.
"I think interest in things and in people," Paulsgrove said. "And a glass of wine in the evening. Four o'clock, look at some news and have my glass of wine. My husband had his beer and we would sit and have good conversation."
She assured us that she asked her doctor if that was okay.
"He said that's fine!"
Paulsgrove also says it's faith and a never-give-up attitude that got her through the hard parts. As for what keeps her going?
"Stubbornness! I'm gonna lick it," she said.
But even here, the story still isn't over.
Betty Williams was born about 10 miles outside of Aledo on March 5, 1923. It makes her the third Brookstone resident to turn 100 in less than three weeks.
She went to grade school out in the country before attending Aledo High School.
"I had a wonderful grade school teacher! But she boarded at my house so she'd go home and tell my dad everything," Williams said.
Most days, you can find her knitting all sorts of items, from potholders to dishrags and more, or cheering on her beloved Chicago Cubs. While some of Williams's memories are fading with age, she still recounted taking bus rides from Aledo to Chicago to sit front row at Wrigley Field.
We asked what her secret was to living to be 100 years old, but she just laughed and quipped back, "I never thought I would!"
On February 16, Brookstone celebrated all 300 years of their birthdays with a party attended by their families and fellow residents.
"It wasn't hard at all to do 100 years, was it," Paulsgrove joked to Holstine.
And as staff members cut into each of their cakes, she raised her glass of wine in a toast.
More From News 8
Watch more news, weather and sports on News 8's YouTube channel