‘Just laugh and be happy,’ says 104-year-old Durango woman

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‘Just laugh and be happy,’ says 104-year-old Durango woman

Allene Pera celebrates 104th birthday with family and friends
Allene Pera celebrates her 104th birthday Wednesday with her daughter, Donna Burr, by her side at Sunshine Gardens as good friend Dolores Becker wishes her a happy birthday.

‘Just laugh and be happy,’ says 104-year-old Durango woman

Allene Pera celebrates her 104th birthday Wednesday with her daughter, Donna Burr, by her side at Sunshine Gardens as good friend Dolores Becker wishes her a happy birthday.
A journey to give birth

The year was 1939, and Allene Pera and her husband, Walter, were living in Tomboy – an abandoned mining town at 11,509 feet in elevation above Telluride.
When they moved to Tomboy for Walter’s job, they knew they would be isolated and would be snowed in at times. They prepared what they needed, including stocking a year’s worth of food for themselves and their2-year-old son. There was no hospital in town, which meant Allene would have to make her way down the mountain to give birth.
In February 1920, Pera and her husband made the journey to deliver a child. The road was snowed covered, so Walter made a toboggan for his son, while he and his wife snowshoed a mile to the entrance of a mine. When they entered the mine, they had to climb down wet ladders that were slick – Walter strapped his son to his back and told him to hold on tight. They made it into a mine car and rode to the front of the mountain, but they were only halfway through the journey.
The Peras used tram buckets to make their way to the valley floor. Eventually, they made their way out of the mine and down to Telluride, where Allene gave birth to Donna Pera, now Donna Burr, at the local hospital. After a year of living in Tomboy, the family left and moved to Electra Lake near Durango.
Benjamin Mandile

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