99-year-old Idalou woman says goodbye to South Plains, namesake apartments

99-year-old Idalou woman says goodbye to home

IDALOU, Texas (KCBD) - After spending 99 years on the West Coast and the South Plains of Texas, traveling to countless places around the world, Mary Jane Allen will make another move to the East Coast, leaving behind her legacy with the people of Idalou and leaving her name on the place she called home for much of her life.

“I need to be closer to my kids,” Allen said. “I can’t maneuver by myself anymore. I can’t walk without help or holding on to something.”

Mary Jane grew to adulthood in Idalou, graduating in 1937 in a class that included her future husband, M.T. Allen.

“Right after high school there were no jobs,” Mary Jane said. “He didn’t know what he wanted to do. He went to California and started out in construction and loved it.”

M.T. moved to California working in construction but eventually found his way back to Idalou for visits, until he decided he couldn’t leave his love behind any more. The couple wed in June of 1941. They moved back to California and began their family.

However, M.T. was drafted into the Navy in WWII. With a new baby, Mary Jane moved back to Idalou to live with her parents.

After the war, with another child in the family, the Allens moved back to California for more than 50 years. Property development, building and similar trades proved successful for M.T. while Mary Jane taught school like her father.

“I loved children,” Mary Jane said. “I loved the age I chose, second graders. They were just real sweet and nice.”

Mary Jane’s father was the local rural mail carrier in Idalou during the Great Depression. That job helped him buy around 10 acres of land in Idalou. In the 1960s they began to build duplexes and homes.

In the 1990s, M.T. and Mary Jane moved back to Idalou and into one of those duplexes. Property development would continue there with more apartments, the Mary J. Apartments to be exact, along with other apartment complexes and storage units.

“He was very successful,” Mary Jane said. “He was a good businessman.”

Through the years, M.T. and Mary Jane traveled to more than 100 countries and were active in church, local community groups and made the friends Mary Jane is now saying farewell to.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. We both did.”

M.T. passed away at 97 years of age in 2017 after 75 years of marriage. Their Idalou properties were sold to new management. Now, Mary Jane is headed to Florida to be closer to her caretakers.

She leaves behind apartments bearing her name and this advice for a long and healthy life.

“Do whatever you like to do. I was either traveling or either taking a trip or planning the next one.”

Now, she’s on to her next adventure.

Copyright 2019 KCBD. All rights reserved.