BILLINGS — Alice Frank bakes one of the most mouth-watering pies you’ll ever taste. From scratch.
So, it only makes sense, she’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. And why wouldn’t she be? Alice has all the sugar of a Valentine's baby. This Valentines Day, she turned exactly 100. A moment not lost on her son Cliff.
"We were coming over here and she says, 'I don't know why everyone is making this such a big deal.' I says, 'Mom, this is a big deal. You just don't realize it.' She said, 'This is just another day."
On cue, Alice concurred with MTN Sports.
"It really doesn't feel any different than when I was 90. Or 80."
As she reels off the decades, it's worth noting she left high school as a junior to work the family farm. Even when Alice married her late husband of 64 years and raised a family of five children, she never stopped. It was literally all work and no play.
"(We) raised our own garden, own cows, own milk, own eggs, own chickens, own meat," she said before continuing to rattle off, "...beats, sugar beats, grain, hay and the first couple years in Laurel, we had beans."
Years of healthy farm-to-table diet are part of her secret to feeling so good at age 100, she says. A canvas of the family farm near Joliet where she labored all those years sits nearby. And for the record, Alice has dozens of others. And saw blades. All freehand and so many that she’s lost count.
"If paint will stick to it, she'll paint on it," Cliff said. "I don't know where she got that talent but she's the only one in the whole family that does that, so..."
The colorful art that doesn’t grace her walls at home has mostly been given away. It could fetch hundreds at an art sale. But for Alice, it’s activity. Simply another part of the secret to still living on her own, without a wheelchair, walker or constant use of a cane.
"I used to run a lot, not races or anything. Just run, and hike," Alice recalled. "I was kind of a tomboy, you might say."
A tomboy who grew up with brothers, so whatever they did, she did. And she tells us that even now, every summer, she returns to the farm emphatically chasing deer from her orchard.
"I go get a kettle and a spoon or something, and that makes a (noise)... and they're gone."
It's all part of that active lifestyle. And it doesn't sound like she has any plans to relax.
"I can always find something to do. And if I can't find nothing to do... I'll find it," she deadpanned with a slight smile.
Which leads us to her favorite sport. Alice has bowled for over 50 years and still goes strong not once, but twice a week in this league. Outfitted with her pink and white ball, the petite righty no longer fires rockets down the lane. But she clearly doesn't need to with the savvy touch to pick up spares.
Alice is open to advice and coach-able. A friend gives her advice to slide a little more left before she releases. Her next roll was a strike. Alice closed Wednesday's league play with a score of 188. The admiration she attracts was literally icing on this year's birthday cake, a deluxe treat frosted in Valentine's red and topped with giant bowling balls.
Her competitive spirit is up for debate. Friends smile when they confess Alice absolutely loathes losing.
"Well, whatever I'm doing, I like to do it good," Alice said. "And if I don't, they say I'm hard on myself."
Just know you'd want Alice on your team. Contrary to a lot of today's athletes, she even plays hurt.
"Oh, I've got a right bad knee. I fell on some cement and it's bothered me."
Cliff recalls a story from a couple years ago.
"She got out of the car and stumbled on some boulders. So we took her to the doctor and they done some x-rays and the first thing she asked the doctor was, 'Can I bowl tomorrow?'"
No surprise for a mom tough enough -- and kind enough -- for anyone to cherish. And capable of scoring nearly twice her age at the bowling alley, 100-year-old Alice Frank appears to be forever young.
"She's just a real nice person and the older we get, it seems like you care more for your parents," Cliff said with his voice trailing off. "Yeah, she's really special."