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Friends for over 97 years; shared a century worth of good and bad

According to one Dutch sociology study, most friendships last less than seven years.

Kathryn Shablow, left, and Edna Rose pose for a portrait at Edna’s apartment in Langdon, ND on Thursday, August 20, 2015. (Grand Forks Herald/ Joshua Komer)

Posted on 9/21/17

By Lisa Nowatzki

Those researchers never talked to Edna Rose and Kathryn Shablow. Their friendship began nearly 20 years before the beginning of World War II in March of 1920.

Shablow was born the youngest of 12 children in September 1916 in Marshall, Minn. During the winter of 1919, Kathryn’s father purchased a farm in Dresden next door to Rose’s family farm. In March 1920, Shablow’s mom and a few of the younger siblings moved to the farmstead.

While on the train, Shablow surmises that someone had the measles and passed them on to her family because shortly after arriving to Dresden, the family got sick with the measles. Shablow’s father went to the farm next door to ask where he could find the local doctor and that is how the families met.

Rose was born in Dresden in January 1917 on a local farm. She was one of six children-four boys and two girls. Rose’s dad was one of the first settlers in the Langdon area.

The girls first met when Shablow’s family got sick with the measles. They were both about three years old. When Shablow started elementary school, Rose could not start because she turned six in January of the following year.

Rose cried so much and so long that her mother talked to Shablow’s teacher. Rather than wait until the next school year,  Rose was allowed to start school in January when she turned six.

When Shablow was ten, she moved from Dresden to Langdon. Rose wasn’t far behind; she moved to Langdon and started high school. After graduation they drifted apart. Rose married and moved back to the farm with her husband, Edwin, while Shablow stayed in Langdon and didn’t marry until later in her life.

Through the years, they stayed in touch with each other through churches, organizations and clubs. Then when Shablow got married, she moved into her new husband’s home which happened to be across the street from Rose’s home. They were neighbors for more than 37 years.

They continued their friendship after Rose moved into the assisted living center, Wheatland Estates. Shortly after, Shablow followed. Their living quarters were next door to each other. Then, according to Shablow, “I got too old to continue living at Wheatland Estates.” She had to move into Maple Manor, and Rose soon followed. They have rooms that are next door to each other.

What does nearly a century of friendship look like? The girls have shared a great deal of firsts. They had their confirmation and their first communion together. They started elementary school together, and they graduated from St. Alphonsus together.

They endured together through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Jewish Holocaust. They’ve seen the United States enter into the atomic race where we split the atom. They’ve seen us enter the space race that ended with a man walking on the moon. They’ve seen airplanes fly across the Atlantic to around the world.

The 20th century has seen the invention of the telephone, the radio, antibiotics, personal computers and the internet, but it has never seen a greater lasting friendship than that of Kathryn Shablow and Edna Rose.