Do you envision it as a time for quiet and the rocking chair? Well, if you are Duvall resident Carroll Whipple, you’d better think again.
Whipple, who will turn 100 in August, is still swimming, still driving, still making plans for the future and still very much involved in learning new things. She’s “thinking about” taking another job teaching swimming in the next few months, and just started ukulele lessons.
“I don’t want to teach five hours a day anymore,” she admits, but “maybe two hours a day would be perfect.”
This long time Duvall resident started life on an apple ranch in Chelan enjoying the farm life until the depression hit.
“Grandad bought the Chelan homestead and other property in the area and gave the apple ranch to my parents as a wedding present,” she explains. But there was a bad year. The drought in 1920 – 21 was followed by a good apple year. Too good, it turned out, as there was a glut on the market and the apple crop didn’t bring in enough to save the farm. So her family spent a few years moving around Chelan, over to Renton, and into Seattle. At one point, her parents bought a grocery store and the family lived in the back. That was when she attended Garfield High School, which the teenage Carroll loved. Soon, though, there was another move and this time it was outside the Garfield School District. No problem for her. She fudged the address just a little, and spent an hour and a half each way to and from school until she could graduate.
“I took three buses and a street care to get from North Seattle to downtown everyday,” she explains. But it worked. She graduated from Garfield and spent the next three years doing “little jobs” like helping at the post office, and working at a variety store. It was meeting her future husband at age 20 that led her to the Eastside.
She liked dancing and she liked swimming, and it turns out the swimming took a big part of her life. After having three children while they lived in the Northgate area, Whipple and her husband, who owned an appliance store, decided to get out of town. Her sister had a place near Duvall and told them about a piece of land for sale up the hill. It was pretty wet, but that didn’t stop the Whipples. They bought the land 56 years ago and set about turning the wet land into their home.
They had to devise a way to build a house on very wet land. They had artesian wells on the property, and they dug ponds to raise trout and swim.
“The house has pipes crisscrossed under it, and the ponds were fine for swimming,” according to Whipple.
The construction of the house wasn’t the only challenge they had, however. Turns out Duvall was, as Whipple puts it, “interesting,” back in those days.
Hippies took up residence in some vacant houses, and a band of area kids harangued them and caused mischief everywhere, according to Whipple. There were even routine robberies of the bank downtown.
“There was no sheriff to call in town,” she says, “and with about 250 residents, it took awhile for the county sheriff to come out. The robbers would go into the woods and were never caught.”
It was too rough for her sister, who moved back to town.
But none of the fuss bothered Whipple too much, and her love of swimming and water turned into a career.
“I wasn’t much of a swimmer in Seattle,” she explains, until she caught the bug at a family membership at a swim club. She discovered that she liked swimming and liked teaching, and started classes at Aqua Dive and the Elks club. She started teaching mother-child classes, then decided she ought to know more about water safety, so took a course and got certified in that. She taught at private pools, then went on to be asked to teach at Gold Creek, and the Cottage Lake Berry Farm, then with the YMCA and the school district.
One former student says, “She taught me how to swim, my kids how to swim, and probably most of Woodinville how to swim!”
A hundred years hasn’t been a piece of cake for Whipple, who has had some physical setbacks during her long life. But she credits her swimming for being able to stay so active and for being able to enjoy life. She enjoys teaching adults in their 50’s and 60’s because “they need to swim for health.”
Clearly Whipple has practiced what she preaches.