Originally published May 31, 2012.
When Huntington native Opal Gamble started working at Miller's Merry Manor, the nursing home had only been open for two weeks and had eight residents.
Now a resident of that same home, Gamble says that looking back, everything is a blur.
"When I worked here, I was a cook," she states. "I worked here for about 30 years."
She adds that her employment was based on a referral from an employee.
"I used to work at a little restaurant down the street from the nursing home," says Gamble. "Business was slow and there were two employees, myself and another girl."
Gamble says the manager had to make a choice to lay off one of the women and that she volunteered.
Her generosity was repaid almost immediately.
"By the time I got home, my husband told me that I had gotten a call from a nurse who worked here," Gamble states. "She was a regular lunch customer at the restaurant. I started working at Miller's the next morning."
Gamble says over the three decades that she had worked at the nursing home she has seen a lot of changes.
"There are a lot of things that we did differently in the kitchen," she says. "We used to make tomato soup from scratch as well as our own pies. Also, we had plenty of help back then."
Gamble remembers getting a visit after a resident complained about one of her soups.
"A man showed up one day, and I still don't know who he represented," she says. "He said he had gotten word from one of the female residents, that we were putting weeds in the soup."
In actuality, Gamble says, the "weed" was a simple bay leaf that they used as garnish.
"We all had a good laugh about that one," she adds.
Gamble says she took pride in her job as a cook.
"I think good nutrition is as important and sometimes even more important that some of the medicines out there," she states. "I was proud to know that I was making good, healthy food for the residents."
Over the years, Gamble says that she has made numerous friends with co-workers and residents.
"I'm pretty easy-going so I had a good relationship with many people here," she says. "Of the people I worked with, only one other person is still alive and that is Cathy Drabenstot."
Gamble celebrated her 101st birthday on May 16 at Miller's Merry Manor and says she has fond memories of the birthday parties that the nursing home used to throw for residents.
"The first time I was here and they had a birthday party, they held it in the basement of Hotel LaFontaine," she says. "There was always a good spread for the birthday parties."
She says that although the nursing home is a lot different from the way it was when she worked here, she will always have good memories.
"I remember that there were no other nursing homes in Huntington when I started working here," she notes. "We had only eight residents and the north wing wasn't even built yet. But it has been a good place to work and I enjoyed it. And besides, they're taking good care of me now."