Centenarian takes everything in strideJul 08, 2021 01:40PM ● By Jackie Kartchner
Al Chamberlain with his American flag. Chamberlain will turn 100 in August. Photo by Jackie Kartchner
FARMINGTON—Al Chamberlain has seen a lot in his 100 years of living. The Farmington man will turn 100 years old on Aug. 7.
“I have had lots of experiences, some good, some bad, but mostly good,” he said. “It’s one of those things you take in your stride every day.” His secret to longevity is, “I eat right and exercise.” He also takes care of his many fruit trees and a large grapevine.
Chamberlain was born in Dubois, Idaho in 1921. He got married on June 5, 1948 in the Hawaiian Temple. He and his wife had eight children. Six are still living: three boys and three girls. The other two were premature and died right after birth. His wife passed away on April 15, 2008. Chamberlain has 66 grandchildren and more than 80 great grandchildren. “They have been coming so fast lately I can’t keep track,” he said.
Chamberlain was raised in Burbank, California, where he graduated from high school. “We moved there in February of 1930 after the stock-market crash,” he said. “My folks, at that time, owned a café in Ririe, Idaho. After the crash, nobody had any money to go to the café.”
After he graduated from high school, he worked for a car wash owned by his brother. His next career move was to Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. “I started at 50 cents an hour, and then later I got 60 cents an hour,” Chamberlain said. “I worked in the sheet metal department in the rework section. I worked there until Pearl Harbor.” He quit and joined the navy on Sept. 4, 1942.
“I didn’t want to be drafted,” he said. “My older brother had been in the navy and recommended it.”
Chamberlain talked a lot about his experiences there. “They sent me to boot camp in Great Lakes, Wisconsin.” From there he went to Norfolk, Virginia for seven months.
“They liked my experience with sheet metal and sent me to training school,” he said. “I also had drafting experience in high school that they liked.”
From there he went to Pansacola, Florida. “I spent three weeks doing commando training,” said Chamberlain. “It was a good experience.” Next, he reported to Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay before going to New Orleans. “We never knew where we were going,” he said.
Once when he was on an LST ship, a hurricane began to blow. “We rode the ship through the hurricane. Everyone on the ship got seasick, including the captain.”
When they were sailing on the equator, they were initiated into Neptune’s Kingdom, said Chamberlain. “It took us 30 days to go around the canal on the way to Pearl Harbor. Here all the battleships were sunk – it was terrible.”
While he was stationed in the Philippines, he took leave. “After my 30-day leave, the war ended on Aug. 5, 1945. We just celebrated and were thankful it was over,” Chamberlain said.
However, it wasn’t until Oct. 29, 1945 that he got out of the Philippines.
Now he plans to celebrate his birthday with family and friends as he becomes a centenarian.