ENCINITAS — The good times keep rolling for Loren and Edna Palmer.
Loren, who will be 100 on Jan. 24, just renewed his driver’s license. He won’t have to do it again until he’s 104. Edna, who will be 99 on Aug. 15, invented a medical appliance, called a Trembler’s Table, that is scheduled to hit Target and CVS by the holiday season.
Loren and Edna were both teenagers in the Midwest during the 1929 stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression. He was forced to drop out of college, and then joined the Navy. At 16, Edna was kicked out of her house because her parents simply couldn’t afford to keep her. She traveled west with two girlfriends, looking for work in Los Angeles, and later in San Diego.
Loren and Edna met one evening in March 1940 at Buckner’s, a dance hall at First and A streets in San Diego.
“I had my radar on and picked up something,” remembers Loren, who was a third-class quartermaster in the navy. “She looked pretty good to me.”
Loren was transferred to a sub chaser on the East Coast and proposed in a letter, asking Edna to travel to Key West to marry him. They did so on Sept. 29, 1941.
Over the ensuing years Edna squirreled money away from jobs as a cosmetologist and department store clerk, and a $200 monthly military allotment. By 1947, she saved more than $10,000.
They were living in a Quonset hut in National City in 1947 and used $1,000 of their savings to buy a new Plymouth, which they used to drive their son Larry, and his new sister, Luann, to North County one morning.
Cardiff was barren and unincorporated in those days, with a sign advertising ocean view lots for only $750.
“Loren fell in love with the ocean,” Edna said. They put down cash and bought the lot at what is now 2550 Montgomery.
“George Wright was the only home builder around at the time,” Loren said. “He built a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom home for us for $8,600.”
Loren used 60 days’ leave from the Navy to work as a laborer on the project, earning $1.25 an hour.
“We were the first people to have a house on the hill,” he said. “It was four levels. I could sit on the ‘throne’ and see the surf.”
Edna remembers that the family across the street had a cow and two chickens.
“There was no electricity that far south in Cardiff yet,” she said. “We used kerosene lights and a stove.”
By 1953 Loren became concerned that as they grew older, it would be difficult for them to climb the stairs. He traded their ocean-view property for a home at the end of Requeza Street.
“Our Cardiff neighbors said, ‘Why are you moving clear out into the country?’” he said, smiling.
They learned to enjoy life in the country with a dog, two goats, a duck and 2,000 chickens they raised for eggs. They also grew beans, roses and tomatoes.
“When we first moved here, we had to put barbed wire up all around the place to keep neighbors’ horses from going through the yard,” Edna said.
“If we wanted a hamburger we had to go to San Diego or Escondido,” Loren recalls. “We did our grocery shopping in Escondido.”
Loren retired from the Navy in 1955, and then became a draftsman in the county assessor’s office. The previous year Edna got a job as a cafeteria worker at San Dieguito High School and rose to become manager. They both retired in 1975.
The Palmers spent the next 25 years playing golf and traveling around the world, enjoying 21 cruises to South America and Europe. They also volunteered at the Encinitas Senior Center where Edna was named “Volunteer of the Year.”
Edna attributes their healthy lifestyle to their longevity.
“We did a lot of walking, didn’t smoke and drank socially, two at the most,” she said.
In 1986 Edna fought hard for Encinitas’ incorporation, canvassing neighborhoods door-to-door.
“We wanted to run the city ourselves, not by the board of supervisors,” she said. “We’ve lived here for 64 years and have seen it change for the better.”