The secret to life is “to be loving and be kind to each other.”
That’s what Fannie Mae Smith said Saturday at her 101st birthday party in the backyard of her house on Kings Park Circle, where she’s lived for the past 50 years.
Though she’s more than a century old, her hair hasn’t grayed in the slightest. She reads The Telegraph, picks up litter in her yard and laughs with the vigor of a youngster.
“She remembers stuff we forgot,” Gretchen Mitchell said of her grandmother. “She still wants to be independent and do stuff on her own.”
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Smith was born on Oct. 12, 1916, when a pound of coffee or flour cost only a few cents. Only a small percentage of Americans attended school, and the refrigerator had not yet been invented.
“When I growed up, it wasn’t difficult like it is now,” Smith said. “It’s real difficult to grow up now. There’s so many things to do. So many choices to make.”
The matriarch, whose parents were slaves, grew up picking cotton on a plantation in Musella.
“My cotton bag was made out of flour bags,” Smith said with a chuckle. “And I would fill it up. I enjoyed that, and I thought I was doing something.”
Smith married in 1932 and had four children. Her husband died in 1974.
Later, her daughter moved to New York, leaving Smith to raise her daughter’s four young children alone.
She now has 56 grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“She taught me how to take care (of family) and how to respect them,” Tony Mathis said of his grandmother. “What she’s been through and what she’s lived ... it’s incredible.”