Horsepower drives local man to age 100
With pride in his eyes and a smile on his face, Steve Wood recalls a legendary piece of family lore – his father Marble Wood, the hero.
In the winter of 1942 a terrible snowstorm shut down country roads, isolating farmers and rendering them helpless. When Wood’s “Pop” got word that a neighboring farmer had a medical emergency, he knew the ambulance couldn’t get through to get him to the hospital.
Marble knew horsepower could save the day and so he harnessed 10 teams of horses and pulled a plow down the road, clearing the snow so the ambulance could reach his ailing neighbor.
“Pop knew what to do, so he did it. It was a tough job, took probably three, four hours to dig out the mile and a half to that guy’s house but he wasn’t about to give up,” Steve said, his dad nodding.
“The ambulance had to get to him and horsepower is the best power,” Marble said matter-of-factly.
In fact, horsepower has been a driving force in Marble’s life for the past 100 years. The retired farmer celebrated his 100th birthday March 23 and plans to celebrate a few more before he’s done.
When asked if he thought he’d make it to 110, Marble, the youngest of three children born on the family farm near Plainview, Minnesota, said, “Might as well.”
And if family history is any indication, he just might do that. His dad Byron lived to be 103, his brother Leslie lived to 96 and his sister Leah lived to 106.
“She was still ballroom dancing at 105,” Marble said, smiling in admiration at his sister’s longevity.
That energy, too, may be a family trait. Steve said his dad was still training colts at the age of 85.
“And that wasn’t the end of it. He drove teams (of horses) for the University of Minnesota when he was 90, giving rides to view the location of the new equine center there,” Steve said.
Marble also helped Steve establish Wild Wood Sleigh and Carriage horse farm, located on family farm land homesteaded near Elk River in 1887.
“You basically got us going. When you handed me the reins all those years ago, I was hooked,” Steve said to his dad, relaxing in a wheelchair at Epiphany Assisted Living where he’s lived since 2009.
It’s true, farming and horses always played a big part in Marble’s life.
He and his wife, Genevieve farmed on acreage located just a half-mile from the Plainview farm where Marble was born and grew up. Together Marble and Genevieve were married 77 years and raised 10 children, two sets of twins among them.
Earlier in his farming life, as a 13-year-old Marble won Grand Champion with a 300-pound Poland China hog he entered in the 1929 Minnesota State Fair.
He also drove steer to the junior livestock show and drove teams of horses “all the time.”
“Horses are the best part of farming. Always were. Always will be,” Marble said, then smiled, adding, “I liked all the antsy ones.”
“Nothing sleepy for him,” Steve said.
“Had to have something along for entertainment,” said Marble.
His children also may have been a source of entertainment. When asked what it was like to have 10 children, Marble said, “It was interesting. They put you through a lot and then, what the hell would you do without ‘em?”
After nearly a half-century of active farming, Marble went to work for Cargill, doing chicken research and then dairy research for some 15 years.
“Then he worked at the hardware store in Elk River, Our Own Hardware, repairing windows, screens – doing whatever repairs were needed. He was the guy,” Steve said.
When asked the secret to long life, Marble said, “Just keep busy, keep moving.”
It seems he’s accomplished that … he “might as well” make it to 110.