In her youth she was a professional basketball player, watched gangster Pretty Boy Floyd being arrested, and travelled 70 miles to see the car in which bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde had just been killed in by police.
Her name is Faye (Collins) Moore and she was raised in the southern U.S. in the tumultuous times after the First World War, and during the Great Depression.
Faye turned 102 on July 5 and was visited by about 15 of her closest friends and family at her home in Glen Arbor.
Faye has so many interesting stories to tell about her life in Williams Lake that at age 77 she put them together in a book, called Pioneering in the Cariboo.
But more recently a friend has recorded more of her stories from her early days, some of which she told the Tribune in an interview this week.
Faye was born July 5, 1910 in Fort Towson, Oklahoma, and raised on a farm where they grew cotton, sweet potatoes and corn. Her dad died of complications from a deadly flu he caught in Europe during the First World War that her mother also caught and which left her bed ridden.
When her father died Faye was just 13.
The bank notified her mother that she was entitled to a $20,000 life insurance policy but she would have to come and pick up the money soon because the bank was in danger of going bankrupt.
Since her mother was unable to walk, Faye set out from their home to make the hour-and-a-half trip to town, by foot and by train, to pick up the cash and carry it home in a small purse.
She says the train station was full of hobos but they would never suspect a girl so young of carrying such a precious cargo.
“I just walked and held my head high wide and handsome,” Faye says.
That wouldn’t be her only encounter with seedy characters. As a girl she says she was among a group of girls watching as police arrested famed gangster Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd in her town. She says the police used Floyd’s money to buy the girls ice cream, which was delicious.
“He had black curly hair and pretty blue eyes, as blue as the sky. I would have left with him in a minute,” Faye says. “He had just the type of look I liked.”
When she heard that famed bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde had been gunned down by police in a car just 70 miles from her home, Faye says she had to go and check out the scene. The bodies were gone but Faye says there was still blood on the car and on the road. “It (the car) was full of bullet holes,” Faye says.
While she became the primary caregiver for her disabled mother at a young age and had to quit school at one point to care for her mother full time, Faye is proud to say that she finished high school in two years graduating as valedictorian of her class in 1927.
She took some journalism courses in high school and worked as a journalist for a time. During the Great Depression she was also hired by the U.S. government to oversee 35 women who were making clothes for people receiving social assistance.
“I knew how to sew but there were still things I had to learn,” Faye said in an earlier interview on her 100th birthday. She says then-U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt wrote her a nice letter of recommendation.
She also worked for a couple of years as a bank clerk and spent a few years in her teens and 20s as a member of the Kansas Reds all-girl professional basketball team.
“We were all red heads,” Faye says.
While she is only five-feet, six-inches tall, Faye says she could still sink a basket from the opposite end of the court.
After her mother passed away, Faye married James Moore, in Antlers, Oklahoma on Sept. 3, 1932.
In 1939 they moved to Murtle Point, Oregon, where James worked in the lumber business. They also operated several taverns and bought acreage for farming vegetables.
In 1952 they pioneered to British Columbia with their three children, George, Joye, and June.
They acquired a piece of land east of Williams Lake in the Horsefly area and bought some cows to start a ranch.
But after the first winter, when temperatures dipped so low that some of their cows lost their tails, Faye says they decided ranching wasn’t for them.
So they bought property at Comer Hill where James built cabins to rent out.
In 1959 James got cancer and passed away in 1961. Not long afterward, Faye lost her daughter June in a drowning accident.
To make ends meet Faye worked as a cashier for the late city mayor Ray Woods at the Famous Cafe for 16 years, retiring in 1972. She also bought a trailer and moved into Exshaw’s Trailer Court on South Broadway where she lived for 32 years until moving to Glen Arbor in 2004. In 1970 she used some of the money she earned to buy herself a brand new 240Z sports car, which she drove until she was 93, when she says she gave it a good fight, but officials refused to renew her licence.
“I drove all over Canada, Mexico and Alaska with that sports car,” Faye says.
One of the friends who has remained close to Faye over the years is Andre Chevigny, who was there for the interview with Faye this week and presented her with a gold cross necklace.
He calls her little sweetie and she calls him her best friend.
“I raised him from a bit and I’ve still got him,” Faye says affectionately.
Referred by the Catholic church, Faye took in Andre’s mother, Anna Curcil and her five children when they moved to Williams Lake in 1961 seeking a better life. They stayed with Faye for several months before finding their own place but Faye and Anna have remained close friends ever since those days.
“My door was always open to people who needed help,” Faye says.
Andre says he and his family always learn a life lesson from Faye on their visits and special dinners together.
“Mrs. Moore has been an inspiration to my family for many years,” Andre says. “She is just a beautiful lady.”
Of life-lessons Faye notes: “You can always profit by your mistakes. I found that out by myself.”
Three years ago, Andre, who builds log homes for people all over the world with his family business Pioneer Log Homes, says he was excited to tell Faye about the log house he built for a customer in her home town of Fort Towson.
Faye says her daughter, Joye, is married to actor Mel Gibson’s father and lives in Los Angeles. “She is Mel Gibson’s step-mother,” Faye says.
She says her son George and his wife, Angel, live in Williams Lake and are a great help and support for her. “They are really good to me,” Faye says.
Despite her trials in life, Faye attributes her longevity to being an optimist, enjoying making people laugh, and staying as mentally and physically active as possible.
She plays along with her favourite shows on television — Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and The Price is Right, and enjoys wildlife shows.
“Happy people live the longest,” she quips. She also reads the Bible every night and prays for all people.
“I pray for the good people and the bad people. I get them all,” Faye says.
Note: Some of the information in this story is from a story the author did with Faye when she turned 100. That year a huge celebration was held at the Senior’s Activity Centre with visitors coming in from around B.C. and seven U.S. states.