Longtime Windsor resident Oscar Land has the seen the changes and growth in Windsor firsthand over the past century.
Land celebrated his 101st birthday Saturday. While sitting in his room at Columbine Commons Assisted Living Facility last week, Land recounted stories from his and the town’s past.
Land was born in Sweden on July 12, 1913, and while he was still an infant, his family moved just south of Windsor, where his father farmed about 40 acres of sugar beets. He said many farms in the area grew sugar beets, a cash crop at the time.
“You’d go into the bank and they’d ask, ‘how many acres of beets this year?’ ” Land said. “They wouldn’t lend you money on most stuff, but on sugar beets they would. They knew they were going to get some money on it.”
Back then, he said the town looked much different.
“Seventh street was practically the west side of town. I think there were 1,100 people, if I’m not mistaken,” Land said.
He remembers when one block on Main Street contained most of the businesses in town, like blacksmith shop.
“I remember going in with Dad with horses to be shod. They had to always have shoes because when they hauled beets, they had a wooden dump to go across. Unless they had iron shoes on, they couldn’t get any bite on that wood, you see?”
Land, the youngest of four kids, graduated from Windsor High School in 1931 — one of 17 kids in his graduating class. For recreation, Land said he and his friends would frequent Oklahoma Lake.
“In the summer we were swimming in it and in the winter we skated on it,” Land said. “One time we were there and the girls were on the other side of the lake and we decided we were going to go swimming. They snuck around and tied knots in our clothes. We couldn’t get out of the water until they left.”
After high school, Land stayed in the area and began farming.
In 1935, he married Dorothy Yancey. Land said Yancey’s family was one of the pioneer families in Windsor. He stopped beet farming in the late 1950s and entered the dairy business.
“My wife got me out of the beet growing field,” Land said. “I said I was going to go in and sign a contract for beets. She looked at me and said, ‘If you do, I’ll leave you.’ And she meant it, too. She said ‘You’re not fit to live with, from the first time you plant those sugar beets until the day they are harvested.’ ”
After working as a dairy farmer for many years, Land became a ranger for the Forest Service for eight years until he retired.
Land brushed off the notion that celebrating his 101st birthday was an accomplishment, adding that being 101 years old “doesn’t feel that much different than being 90.”
And his secret to living a long life?
“I always tell people it’s the Windsor Whiskey,” he said.