Newberry Springs Resident
Becomes A Centenarian

Bernice Berglund sits in her living room surrounded with memories.

Celebrates 100th Birthday on April 27, 2013

      Living on Newberry Road just north of the Newberry Springs Elementary School, Bernice Fredrick Berglund lives with what she calls her precious treasures, over a half dozen well behaved dogs and a few cats.  Her close friends call her "Bea."

      Bernice was born in 1913, a month after Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, took office.  Obama is the 44th president.  She was born a Canadian citizen in Winnipeg of American parents, Anna "Anne" and Fred Ashley, who were in Canada working with the Barnum & Bailey Circus that later, in 1919, became the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, 'The Greatest Show on Earth.'

      While traveling with the circus as a very young child, she would enjoy sitting ringside and watching the performers.  Her family hit hard times when her father, who operated a circus confidence game wagon, was jailed for an extended period for working at a circus stop where the town wasn't so forgiving.

Packard Twin-Six

      The family while in Flordia loaded-up a Packard Twin-Six and headed West on their own, eventually settling in Long Beach, California.  From the age of about 5 to 12, Bernice had small parts in silent film productions, sometimes alongside notables of the time.

      The family was Mormon and Bernice was baptised at 8 years old.  Her parents separated when her mother Anne found that Bernice's father, Fred, had a second Mormon family.  Her father later died at a relatively young age.  He had a serious misunderstanding regarding an association he had with the mob and he chose to hang himself in Los Angeles.

      Bernice had a brother, Earl Ashley, who was six years younger.  Her mother moved the family to less expensive Los Angeles where Bernice received her formal education through Junior High.  While Bernice was outgoing, her brother Earl was a quiet individual who enjoyed tennis.  Later in his life, Earl died of cancer in Long Beach.

      Bernice married at 16 years of age to Eskel "John" Berglund who was a native of Sweden and who had been a fireman in his home country.  He had trouble finding work because of a strong Swedish brough that made his speech difficult to understand.  He later found employment as a chef and worked for a number of years in Hollywood at a restaurant called 'Bit of Sweden.'

      Bernice and John were married for 17 years and had two daughters.  One daughter, Janet, now lives in the state of Washington; and daughter Sandra, who lives in Oregon.  While raising the children, Bernice took in seamstress work.  Sandra, in her younger years, was a Hugh Heffner bunny girl.  Bernice's marriage with John ended in divorce.

      For a number of years Bernice worked for Bullocks department stores in Pasadena and Los Angeles.

      She doesn't remember when she moved to Newberry Springs, but estimates that it was about 30 years ago.  That would place her age at about 70 at the time.  Bernice has worked in Newberry as a nurse, a caregiver, and property caretaker.

      Her opinion of doctors isn't very high.  She avoids them in preference to taking vitamins religiously every day.

      Bernice was featured in two human-interest news stories in the Barstow Desert Dispatch recently regarding Bank of America possibly evicting her.  The stories ran on January 24, 2013 and February 11, 2013.  A new recent Texas bank buyer of the land has agreed to allow Bernice to remain on the property and has offered to assist with relocation costs should she desire to move.

      Bernice is much happier now having the stress of a potential forced eviction removed from her.  She is still interested in relocating if she can find an affordable place for her trailer and extended family of pets.

Bernice Berglund still holds great humor and a twinkle in her eyes.

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