By Helena Rodriguez
Name: Nellie Hern, 71
Hometown: Portales (Moved here in 1963)
Family: Son and daughter-in-law, Paul and Yvone Garcia; son, Sam Garcia and daughter Estella Garcia, all of Portales; daughter Teresita and son-in-law, Robert Tanaka of Dillingham, Alaska; granddaughter, Francis Garcia; five grandsons, Samuel Joe, Anthony, Andrew and Nathen Garcia and Jermene Tanaka; and one great-grandson, Dillin Watson.
Nellie Hern is a retired traffic control supervisor who enjoys sewing, making quilts, crocheting and brewing her own pots of jelly. During her younger years, she would go to the local nursing home dressed like a clown to entertainment residents and play bingo with them.
What did you like about your job before you retired?
“I was a traffic control supervisor for six years with Cutler Paving in northern Kansas before I retired. I loved the people I worked with and the places I’d seen. We paved roads in northern New Mexico and even paved First and Second streets in Portales. I retired in 1988.”
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people:
“I speak Spanish fluently.”
What do you visualize your life being like in 10 years?
“I hope I will still be sewing and making jellies.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult:
“I thought I would be riding horses on a cattle ranch with my sister, Edna.”
What is your greatest hope?
“That I could be healthy and be able to have a home where I could have flowers, a garden and a sewing room so I could quilt, too.”
Tell us about your parents:
“My parents were very good hard-working folks. They had cows and sheep. I lost my mother when I was 11 and my dad when I was 24.”
If money were no object, I would make the world a better place by:
“Helping everyone to be united together and kind to each other.”
What is your favorite TV shows, past and present?
“My favorite shows are ‘The Price is Right,’ ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy.’”
What’s your favorite smell:
What is your favorite taste?
What is your idea of a perfect day?
“Waking up with no pain.”
Tell us about a time you were nervous:
“When I had to serve meat trays for the actress Greer Garson. When I was about 17, I was the head of the maids at her summer home in Pecos, Texas. I had actually worked for her husband, Buddy Fogelson, first. One day when the butler was gone, I had to serve the meat tray to her and I was so nervous, but she was very nice. Lucille Ball and other actresses would go up there to visit her and I got to meet them. Garson played in movies such as ‘Little Women,’ ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘The Singing Nun.’”
If you could invite anyone, who would you invite to your dinner party:
“All of my friends.”
What is your most prized possession?
“My kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.”
What is your hero and why?
“My sister Edna is my hero because we were very close and she helped me when my mother died.”
What would you want written on your gravestone:
“To be remembered as a kind and loving person.”
What was one of your happiest periods in your life:
“When I belonged to the M.O.C.A. (the Military Order of the Cooties Association), which was the women’s branch of the VFW, we would go to the veterans hospital in Amarillo to visit the disabled veterans and some of us would dress up like clowns to entertain them. I would also go as a clown to the nursing home here in Portales and helped the patients and play bingo with them.”