CLEARBROOK, Va. (WDVM) — When a country goes to war like the United States did in World War Two, not everyone can carry a rifle, fly a plane or drive a tank. But a woman in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia did her part to win the war when she saw an ad in Life Magazine and joined the United States Cadet Nurse Corps.
“We fought the war on the home front,” said 94-year-old Geraldine Cline while her husband was away in the U.S. Army.
“We took the place of doctors at the hospital who were sent overseas to treat the wounded in Europe,” said Cline as she recalled her days as a registered nurse before her husband Henry came home and they bought a 495-acre farm along I-81 north of Winchester where they raised two sons and a daughter.
A bipartisan bill in Congress seeks to grant veteran status to members of the United States Nurse Cadet Corps. If that happens, Geraldine and the young women she served with will received the recognition they deserve for filling in for doctors who were away during the war.
In the meantime, there’s work to be done on the family farm. No time for day-dreaming. When the Cline family is not picking fruit and vegetables, they’re pulling weeds.
Geraldine, her daughter, two sons and a grandson raise beef cattle, some of the sweetest tasting white peaches in the valley, and a wide range of vegetables; tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, beans and tractor-trailer loads of apples.
It’s hard work, but Geraldine says, “I can see the fruits of my labor.” And that’s what keeps her going.
Ms. Cline is the farm’s owner, but sometimes she feels like one of the hired help. Her job is to keep the grass mowed, and at least once a week from the first day of April until the last day of November, you can find her bouncing up and down on her “Dixie Chopper,” a big zero-turn mower.
Asked how long she plans to keep mowing grass on the farm, she smiled and said, “As long as the Lord allows me.”
Sherry Brooks from Berryville, who has been coming to the Cline Family Farm for more than 20 years to buy her produce, hopes she can do what Ms. Cline does when she’s 94.
Cline’s daughter Becky thinks it’s “neat” that her mother can contribute to the farm’s upkeep by mowing grass.
Geraldine’s feet barely reach the front deck of the mower, but she taps them ‘up and down’ as she gives the lawn a buzz cut.
The day I filmed her for a segment of my upcoming award-winning show in November called “Veterans Voices,” she was wearing a pink John Deere baseball camp and a flowered blue blouse. It was almost 90-degrees, but she didn’t seem to mind the heat or the dust that her Dixie Chopper stirred up.
As she mowed along Hopewell Road, her grandson, William Price was picking peaches in the orchard.
“She is the reason we do what we do here at the farm,” said Price, who hinted that the family would let her decide when it’s time to park her Dixie Chopper in the tractor barn. And his grandmother told me that’s not going to happen anytime soon.