Ann Jeremias went way, way back in time … all the way to second grade. Many years ago, Ann immigrated from Russia to America. Not knowing the English language, Ann was placed in second grade, among the 8 and 9-year-old children. Ann was 12 years old at the time. Her start at school was difficult, being the biggest in class and teased for not being able to speak English — yet.
Coming full circle, 90 years later, Ann has a friend in second grade: Arely Garcia, the daughter of caretaker Dora Garcia. Arely invited Ann to share her 102nd birthday with her classmates. Ann is still older than all the other second-graders, but each of Ms. Haky-Smith’s children enjoyed having a “big kid” in their Truckee Elementary School classroom.
Most of all, Ann loved being around kids who treated her like one of the gang.
Ann Jeremias, born Genia Holubova
One hundred and two years ago, on April 16, 1911, Ann was born into a family of six children in Russia. Before Ann was born her father left for America. The plan was to obtain a house, establish employment and his wife and children would then immigrate.
World War I broke out and it took 12 years before Ann’s mother was able to get herself out of Russia and reunite with her husband.
During that time Ann was raised by her brothers and sisters: they all raised each other. Their mother was out earning the money for the family, and regardless, they were very poor.
Her mother would go to one village and buy sugar, eggs, or other necessary goods and then go to another village and sell for a profit. Ann and her siblings stayed in a large home, but the entire family lived in one room, that was all they could afford to heat. At that time there was no electricity or running water.
The boys would go down to the river and haul up buckets of water. Being from a Jewish family, they were often discriminated against. Other boys would come along and spill the water. The family would have to try again to get the water home.
At night Ann’s older brothers wanted to read and learn, as there was no school for them to attend. They had a strong desire to educate themselves.
How does one read in 1918 at night if there is no electricity? Ann’s family grew potatoes, after scooping all the potato out of the skin, they would place oil in the potato skin and roll up a bit of cotton for the wick.
“In my lifetime … the changes I have seen … instead of a wick, oil and a potato, now we have electronics that light up to read by. It’s magic,” said Ann.
Ann, a talented sculptor, said the key to her longevity is that she loves people — that’s why she’s stayed alive so long.