It is hard to compare Brookfield of the 1920s with wilderness Minnesota or Kansas of the 1880s, but
anytime Barbara Gething turned on the television and found “Little House on the Prairie,” she saw
something that looked very familiar.
“Our life was a lot like the house on the prairie,” said Gething, who lives one house away from the house
she grew up in, on Stewart Sharon Road.
“We had no water, no electricity,” she said. “All we did was play, out in the yard, go out in the woods and
play, because it was ours. We always, always had a good time, No money, but we had a good time.”
Gething, who turned 100 on May 3, said she now appreciates indoor plumbing and electricity, but has
always been slow to embrace technology. She has never learned to drive – although she took a few
lessons when she was pregnant with her youngest child, her son, Bruce Gething; she didn’t give up on her
ringer washer until about 15 years ago; she does not have a computer or a smartphone; and she still doesn’t
have a clothes dryer.
“See my clothesline out back there?” she asked from her kitchen table, pointing to the back yard. “I like
all that stuff. I like doing it. It never bothered me. I love to hang clothes out.”
She credited keeping busy as part of her secret to a long life. The other half of her secret is her children.
By, children, she is not just speaking of her own children, Bruce and Carol Perrone, but also her nieces,
nephews, grandchildren and however far her family tree stretches.
“I love my family,” she said. “It’s been a good life.”
That family held a surprise birthday party for Gething on May 1. It was a much-appreciated time and one
that gave the Gething family members a chance to see one another after staying away because of the
COVID-19 pandemic. Perrone, who lives in Florida, usually comes home twice a year to help her mom
clean and stock up on supplies, but it’s been about two years since the last time she visited.
“She amazes me every day, truly,” Perrone said. “I always say, she wrote the book on amazing. Her
stubbornness keeps her going. We’re always arguing and things like that. I’m wanting to do something,
and then she’ll say, ‘Let me do it.’”
Perrone said she hopes that her children and grandchildren understand how her mother’s tenacity has led
to her living a long and enjoyable life.
“Everybody will come to her and she will listen,” Perrone said. “She’s like a rock.”
A rock that will do without things for herself so that someone else can have them.
“She is always thinking of others, and I think she would like to make sure that her grandchildren think of
others before they think of themselves, because she always thinks of everyone,” Perrone said. “She’s
always been there for everybody.”
Gething was born Barbara Garish, the second of four children born to Mathew and Theresa Sok Garish.
While her father worked at Sharon Steel Corp., the family also lived on a farm. Girlhood pursuits
included playing badminton, climbing trees and picking flowers, along with farm chores such as tending
animals and gathering eggs and berries.
“We never went hungry, that’s for sure,” she said. “We had all kinds of fruit growing.”
When it came time for school, Gething and brothers Stephen and Thomas and sister Frances walked: to
the former Elm Street School, Stevenson School, and then Brookfield High School, from where they all
Sliced bread had just become a thing when she was a girl, and the other kids teased her for bringing
homemade bread to school, Gething said. She has never given up on homemade bread.
“I do make the best bread ever,” Gething said. “It tastes like you have the most expensive stuff in, and it’s
not. It’s just so good. There’s an art to it. You can’t just slap things together.”She said she didn’t start thinking more kindly of some of the modern conveniences until high school,
when “the boyfriends were starting to come over. I was always embarrassed because we had a bathtub.”
A bathtub that was filled by hand with water that was warmed on a fire.
One of those boyfriends was Stephen’s friend, Edward Gething of Sharon. The first significant
conversation between Mrs. Gething and her future husband revolved around her idle comment that she
would like to have a camera. Ed loaned her his.
“He used to walk out here to see me,” she said. “Sometimes, the snow would be piled way on top of his
head, and sometimes he rode a bike.”
After high school, Gething worked at the 5 and 10 store, and at a men’s store, both in Sharon, and babysat.
“I rode the street cars a few times, and then we had the buses,” she said of getting to work. “We had to
walk to Masury to get the bus. Everything was walk.”
When World War II broke out, and Ed went into the Army Air Corps, she sharpened tools at Sharon
Steel. A neighbor drove her to and from work.
In 1943, Gething took the train to Kelso, Okla., where she and Ed tied the knot before a justice of the
Ed, who was a wood pattern maker, built the house she now lives in.
Gething has traveled extensively over the years, but never wanted to live anywhere else.
“It was just what I wanted,” she said of Brookfield. “All the people were friendly. We had the best
Gething, who has survived a heart attack and has diminished eyesight, complains that she “can’t do much
“I used to do a lot of gardening, take care of my flowers and take care of the yard,” she said. “Now, I can’t
do any of it.”
Perrone dismisses her mom’s sob story.
“Don’t let her fool you,” Perrone said. “She’s out there raking the yard and she has this big tarp and she’ll
rake all the leaves on the tarp and she’ll lug it down to the woods. When she can, she will.”
Gething admits she still cooks and bakes – a lot.
“Baking’s my favorite thing.”
She gets up at 5 a.m most days, “as if she was getting my dad off to work,” Perrone said, even though Ed
Gething died in 1985.
Still living on her own, Gething is visited regularly by Bruce, who lives in the home she grew up in, and
five nieces and a nephew who live in the area.
Gething used to love to watch her children and grandchildren play baseball and softball. “I loved
screaming away like an idiot.”
“You could hear her,” Perrone confirmed. “She is the loudest screamer and the loudest clapper. I’ve never
known anyone clap their hands so loud as she does.”
These days, Gething is content to sit on her back porch and listen to the baseball game crowd sounds
coming from Brookfield Township Community Park, which is practically in her back yard. In fact, she
leases land to the township for additional park space.
“I love to hear the kids when they hit a home run,” Gething said. “I can hear it real good when I’m out on
For Gething, every day is a new day, and she loves to open her eyes each morning to see what is in store
“I’ve had a great life, I have to say.