Clara Bondurich made an announcement to all who would listen following her birthday celebration recently at The Gardens in Tunkhannock.
“I’m 100, I’m 100,” she happily told her fellow residents, relatives, and staff members.
Born on Aug. 5, 1917, Clara grew up in the area, but lived for most of her adult life in New Jersey. She moved to The Gardens on Dec. 23, where she now rooms with her sister, Irene Corby, who is two years younger.
“We consider it a Christmas miracle that we were able to get her in here before Christmas,” said Mary Reeves, admissions director at The Gardens.
Clara was born in Larksville, one of eight children of Frank and Sophie Drost.
The family moved to a farm on Sugar Hollow Road south of Tunkhannock while Clara was still a young girl.
“I worked on the farm,” Clara recalled. “I was a skinny kid. When you work on a farm, you’re going to be a skinny kid. I was a real farmer’s daughter and I am proud of it.”
Clara’s son Tom Bondurich helped fill in the gaps in some of his mother’s recollections.
He explained that his grandfather was a coal miner when his mother was born, but had to give it up due to health reasons.
“She hated going to the farm, because she had to leave all her friends in Larksville,” Tom said.
Still, Clara was able to make the most of things and has good memories of growing up in the area.
“I had a wonderful mother and a wonderful father,” she said. “They took us all to church and they loved us all very much.”
One of her fondest memories was going to work for Dr. Arthur Davenport and his wife Jessie.
“They were very, very nice people. They treated me like royalty,” Clara recalled.
Clara worked as a housekeeper for the Davenports, and also took care of their children.
While working for the Davenports, Clara met and eventually married John Bondurich in 1943. The couple moved to Harrison, N.J., a short time later, where they both worked in a factory owned by RCA.
At the time, Tom explained, the plant was making items in support of country’s involvement in World War II.
Clara worked at the factory until she gave birth to her son, Michael, in 1945. At that point, Clara became a full-time housewife.
In 1956, Clara and her family moved to Kenilworth, N.J., where John purchased a house.
Five years later, Tom was born.
“She’s an amazing cook,” Tom explained. “She’s amazing at baking. And she’s amazing at gardening.”
His mother loved her garden in those days, Tom said, growing both flowers and vegetables.
Time passed. John died in 1997.
Clara remained in their house in Kenilworth with a caregiver until December 2016.
Concerned over his mother’s welfare, Tom convinced Clara to move to The Gardens in Tunkhannock, where she could enjoy her sister’s company.
“She was lonely, even though she had a caregiver,” Tom explained. “Because the caregiver didn’t talk to her much.”
At first, Clara was a bit nervous about the move, but now she says she is very happy to be here.
“Everyone here is good people. I never met a bad person from Pennsylvania,” she smiled.