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Been there, done that

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By Kirsten Laskey

Ruth Lambert of Los Alamos has covered a lot of ground in 100 years. From Minnesota, to Wisconsin, California, Colorado and New Mexico, Lambert has pretty much seen and done it all.On her 100th birthday, which was March 22, Lambert reminisced about all the places she had been and things she had experienced. She grew up in Austin, Minn., and majored in journalism from the University of Iowa. While in college, Lambert said, she worked at the university’s newspaper. Her journalism career took her to the Janesville Gazette, in Janesville, Wis. While employed there, Lambert appeared to have rebelled against the norm; during a time when it seemed many female reporters focused on gossip, Lambert was writing exposs on gangsters.She explained she wrote about the Pure Milk Association in Chicago. The cooperative received, processed and marketed milk produced by its member dairies, which included dairies in Wisconsin.Lambert said a “semi-crook” in Chicago tried to take over the association but wasn’t successful. She said there were strikes and even a trial. The controversy caused her to leave town for a while.She also worked for the United Press in Sacramento, Calif., typing whatever was transmitted through the Teletype. Lambert said she started working at 2 p.m. and finished “when the Teletype stopped.”About becoming a journalist, Lambert said, “I think it was partly accidental.” As a student reporter at her high school paper, Lambert said she got to cover an American Legion event. “That became rather interesting,” she said.Lambert was not only a journalist, but she also worked as a draftswoman. During World War II, she did draft work on B-25s at an aircraft plant in California.When the Depression hit, Lambert worked for the Work Progress Administration, interviewing artists. “I was able to professionally see people (who were) doing very interesting work,” she said.One artist she was able to meet was Georgia O’Keefe. Lambert said she knew O’Keefe “slightly” and “admired her immensely.”Lambert was also an artist herself. She did numerous mobiles and got two grants from the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos.“I was interested in art all along,” Lambert explained. Her mother, who would do copies of other works, influenced her as an artist, and her high school art teacher Margaret Karfoot also encouraged her to pursue art. “(Karfoot) was a really great person,” Lambert said.Lambert’s art appeared in galleries in Santa Fe and in Los Alamos and even had a show in the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe.Lambert said she doesn’t recall why she moved to Los Alamos, but said, “I like the place.”Lambert currently resides in Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She enjoys being able to talk to her friend, Ann Shafer, a social worker through the Betty Ehart Senior Center. Shafer said she was referred to Lambert because four or five years ago, Lambert’s neighbor complained that her TV was too loud. When Shafer visited Lambert and discovered she didn’t own a TV, a friendship was formed.The two met once a week and had really intelligent conversations, Shafer said. Since Lambert no longer has immediate family, “I’ve become sort of like her only family,” Shafer said. “She’s an extremely unique individual. (She is) just a true gem ee I’m just thankful for having her in my life.”