(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Mrs. Dow grew up near Evening Star in a large family with eight brothers and sisters. She is the daughter of the late Lillie and Dave Miller.
When she was 16 years old she married Filo Thomas. Mr. Thomas had four children; two boys and two girls aged 12, 10, 8 and 6. She and Mr. Thomas had 15 children together. Later, she married Burell Dow and he had five children.
Ms. Dow said she had no trouble going from a teenager to a mother and wife.
"My mother taught me to cook when I was young," she said. "When Mom went to the field, she put a mark on the porch and told me when the sun hit that mark, it was time to put the beans on. I was small and had to stand on a box to stir the beans. When I got married my stepchildren and I got along fine," she remembers. "They are Jack, Bug, Doodle and George."
Most of the children had nicknames. Their 15 children, 11 boys and four girls, are Tootsie, Shot, Bobo, PeeWee, Jeep, Billy Joe, Dean, Linda, Danny, Debbie, Harvey, Tony, Johnny, Joanie and Larry.
Mr. Dow's children are Albert, Mary, Linda, Anna, and Marilyn.
As Mrs. Dow looks back on her years of raising children, she has very fond memories of all of them working and playing together.
"We not only had enough for one ball team, we had enough for two," she said.
When she cooked the meals she said she used big pots and cooked lots of beans and potatoes. She raised a garden, milked her own cows and always had chickens and hogs.
Her daughter, Linda Pendergrass, said the older children each had their own baby to take care and they helped with the younger children.
Mr. Thomas died in 1963. At that time there were nine children at home aging from eight months to 16 years.
She remained a single mother for seven years.
"It was not always easy with a big family, but we managed," Mrs. Dow said.
She was not afraid of hard work and she said, "you just do what you have to do."
"We had to be tight with our money and make it go around," she said.
She made the children's clothes, made sure they had food to eat and still made time to play with them.
"People talk about the depression and how hard it was, I didn't have time to think about it," Mrs. Dow said.
Mrs. Dow said she is grateful that they were healthy.
"I cooked a lot with garlic and they say that is good for you," she said. "I used a lot of home remedies with turpentine and coal oil.
"We didn't have a television or hear a lot of news. Sometimes I think we would be better off today without one."
She had three sons in the military service at one time. Two served in Germany and one in Vietnam.
"When you know you kids are there where they are fighting and killing, it is hard," Mrs. Dow said. "It is also difficult to have to give up your children."
Her oldest daughter, Tootsie, died in an automobile accident recently. Her son, Larry, died when he was a baby, and two of her step-children, Linda and Anna are deceased.
Mrs. Dow does not mind telling her age. She will be 85 in August. She has never had to have surgery and only has to take one pill a day for high blood pressure.
"I have been blessed with good health," she said. "Having babies kept me young."
She also has enjoyed her share of being a grandmother. She has taken care of many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She has 38 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.
She still does her own housework, cooking and loves to work in her flowers.
She recently moved back to the country where she has lived most of her life and loves it.
With the exception of four or five years, she has lived on the same road since she was 17 years old. She calls it home.
"I wouldn't trade my mobile home here for any house in town," Mrs. Dow said.
Mrs. Dow said three things she taught her children were to love God, stay clean and to make their bed every day.
"When they were growing up the kids would ask my why it was so important to make up their bed everyday," Dow said. "I told them that my mother had always told me it was important so it had to be. I believe in making kids mind and keeping them busy."
Her children and grandchildren that could gathered at her home on Sunday for a cook-out and to spend the day with their mother. She had about 25 attending.
She is looking forward to their annual reunion they have each year on Memorial Day Weekend.
"I have been lucky to have had two good husbands and wonderful children and grandchildren. They are all special," she said.
The Dows are members of First Baptist Church in Leachville.