Minnie Allen, of Golden, was recently honored as the first employee to work 50 years at the Tyson's plant in Berryville, Ark. Allen has also achieved a perfect attendance record over the last five decades.
"I thank God every day for my health and that I am able to keep going," said Allen. "I have received vacation time and built up credit hours that helped me keep perfect attendance and I have just kept going and kept working."
Allen began working at the plant, which was previously known as Ocoma, on July 1, 1957.
"I was scared to death my first night," said Allen. "They had me scaling or weighing drumsticks and they told me not to miss any. Of course, I did miss some, but I thought I did pretty good. After that, I decided to try it again the next night."
The next evening, Allen was placed on a band saw cutting chicken.
"I was on the saw for the next 39 years," said Allen. "I really liked it. Many of the people were afraid of the saw, but I only nicked myself a couple of times and it was nothing a bandaid couldn't take care of.
"I really liked my job and the people I worked with," said Allen. "The more I?worked the better it got."
After Allen accepted her position at the plant, her soon-to-be husband, Willard, joined her. The two were married in 1958 and Willard worked at the plant for 35 years and eight months before retiring in 1994.
"I decided I wasn't ready to retire so I continued working," said Allen.
After his retirement, Willard continued driving Allen to the plant in Berryville for over 10 years. Then, in 2005, Willard passed away from complications related to a boating accident.
"I decided I wasn't going to set down and quit," said Allen. "I was going to learn to drive and keep going."
Allen received her driver's license and later purchased a Crown Victoria.
"Willard told me if I ever bought a new car I should buy a Crown Victoria," said Allen. "I listened to him and that is what I bought and I love it."
Today, Allen continues to work at the Tyson's plant, but several years ago she moved from the saw to the spreader line. In her current position, Allen is in charge of spreading the chicken pieces apart before the pieces move down the line into the oven.
"It's an easy job," said Allen. "I can sit or stand while I spread chicken. It is hot in the oven room, but we all trade positions so we don't have to be in the heat all day."
Over the last 50 years, Allen has never been late to work or missed a day that was unexcused. She was able to use credit hours, vacation days and holiday days during the rare instances that she needed to miss work and a leave of absence while Willard was in the hospital after his accident.
"I was able to be with him the whole time he was in the hospital, and I thank God for that too," said Allen.
Although Allen could retire at any time, she has no plans to do so in the near future.
"I like my job. It has helped me through a lot of things, emotionally as well as financially," said Allen. "My plant manager said I could work there as long as I want to, which I thought was really nice. I guess I will work until I get tired."
The Tyson plant in Berryville hosted an anniversary celebration in honor of Allen's 50 years of employment.
"I had been on vacation, and when I came back, I saw all the stuff laid out on a table and I thought that they must be having a bake sale for someone," said Allen. "Later, I saw my picture on the wall and I realized it was for me. It was a very nice surprise."