August 28, 2019 800 PM
MARFA — In 1934, when Dixie White was 15 years old, a Dust Bowl storm rolled through Breckenridge, Texas. White was in her high school gymnasium when, she says, a large radiator fell from the ceiling, barely missing her.
Well, almost barely missing her. White says she lost a big toe. It was the first of, by her count, three near-death experiences, including two scares in a car.
“I’ve always felt, ‘Gee, God must have a purpose to me,’” the 100-year-old said in a phone interview from a mountain cabin in Jeff Davis County, reflecting on her experience with the falling radiator. “That should have killed me. And so you wonder — you really wonder — why?”
Near-misses aside, Marfa sure is glad to have White around. On Saturday, a few dozen people turned out to Planet Marfa to help White celebrate her 100th birthday, which fell on August 22.
Disc jockeys from Marfa Public Radio played tunes while partygoers danced. One pair of well-wishers brought brisket, ribs, beans and potato salad. Another friend brought a cake. Another, a piñata.
At least six of White’s longtime friends showed up, including one woman, now in her 80s, with whom White says she used to sell condos in Houston.
By White’s telling, condo-saleswoman is just one of the many jobs she’s had over the decades. Others include school administrator, secretary and hat model.
“I’ve had such a good life,” she said.
These days, White lives in Marfa with Jon Johnson — her nephew and only surviving relative. Johnson also owns Planet Marfa and helped organize her birthday party.
The full party at Planet Marfa lasted from Friday to Sunday, and they weren’t even done yet. On Tuesday, they were at a family cabin near Crow’s Nest in Jeff Davis County. Johnson, whose wife is Norwegian, explained they were observing Norwegian customs.
“If a person hits 100, they’ll celebrate for a whole week in Norway,” he said. “At least, that’s the way it used to be.”
Asked if he wanted to add anything, Johnson noted that Dixie is “very astute about global warming and the plight of refugees” and “can’t wait to vote Trump out of office” in 2020.
But wait — Dixie wanted to add something as well. She was watching hummingbirds fly through the trees, she told The Big Bend Sentinel.