Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 3:59 PM
FREMONT,Neb. — At 90 years old, Tracy Arett still plays 18 holes of golf twice a week during the season.
But she didn’t start playing until she was in her 40s.
"I was the outdoor girl," she says.
Being a sportswoman all those years was a challenge. There were few athletic opportunities within the school system and even less outside it.
This was before Title IX became the law of the land and a time when young women who were good athletes were not considered feminine.
It was with confidence and good cheer that Arett went ahead and competed.
She is exceptionally well-coordinated, a natural athlete and loves the competition. Girls Athletic Association encouraged young women to be athletes.
Arett was the softball pitcher on the town team during the summer and was a cheerleader during the school year.
"I played every sport in the GAA," she says.
Women’s sports in the 1930s bear little resemblance to the sports of today. In volleyball, the ball was served underhanded, in basketball women played either front or back court. Only in golf and tennis could girls compete and those were expensive sports and out of reach of most families in Rock Rapids, Iowa.
"I played basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, but no golf," she says. "I didn’t even know what it was."
It was not on the curricula at Wilson High School, a school of 250 students. There was no track for girls. In physical education, the girls exercised and played ping pong.
"I didn’t get into golf until we moved to Wayne, Neb," she says. "Richard was a cattle buyer for Hormel and they were transferred there."
Golf was a way to meet other women, the stay-at-home moms and women whose husbands worked for Hormel Foods Corp.
Arett has been married to Richard for 65 years.
"We met in July, were engaged in September and married in December," she says. "We were married at home."
Some women played bridge, Arett took up golf.
She is a happy woman with a sense of humor about herself.
"My orneriness keeps me healthy and active. It keeps me feisty," she says.
"I always tried out for everything. I was in music a lot. I had a bachelor uncle who lived with us who was a musician. I played the mandolin. I wanted to learn out to play the piano."
But Arett was assigned the mandolin by her uncle and he wouldn’t teach her to play piano.
"We sang. Father taught the girls how to dance and my mother taught the boys. Every year on the Fourth of July, just my family, all four generations, gather and the last thing we do is sing."
A lot of what gives Arett her spunk is her attitude toward all things and an acute dose of self-awareness.
"I just have to be active because I’m a hyper person," she says.
"Golf is therapy for me. My doctor always knows when golf season starts because my blood pressure goes down.
"I taught my son, Ralph, golf etiquette along with the rest of the game — no swearing, don’t lose your temper, go on to the next hole because there is nothing you can do about the last one," advice that applies to many-a-life-situation. "When I begin golfing, at the first hole, I stop and thank God for the beauty of the earth."
Before there was golf, there was bowling. The family moved around often but before Arett left Wayne, her average was 170.
"I was always cleanup man," she says. "I loved the pressure."
After Arett turned 90, there were lots of honors. Among those was recognition by Valley View Golf Course for her prowess as a golfer and her longevity on the course.
"My own gals had a special day for us," she says. "I was honored at Balloon Glow as the ‘Lemonade Lady."’
Arett’s parents were not long lived. They died at 58 and 64 years.
"I worked in a doctor’s office for three years and learned a lot about being healthy," she says.
One thing she advocates: "Take your medicine as prescribed."
She describes herself as a "disciplined person" and gives an example. When her cholesterol was high, she didn’t diet, but instead made an effort to eat healthy. When she needs to lose some weight, she saves a little from each meal to eat between meals and curb her hunger.
"Everything I did, I enjoyed," she says. "A woman is never retired. Women have the same duties all their married life. I cook dinner each night."
Richard, who is 89 and a regular at the Fremont Family YMCA, is also in good health.
Home cooked food, regular exercise and self-discipline has given them both a life they describe as "happy."
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