It's not often that all three weekend days are filled with activities such as occurred this past week. It kept us really busy and left Ozzie a bit disturbed as we were seldom home.
What impressed me most was the 100th birthday party of Elsie Selway held at the Scott Memorial Church in Cadiz.
Elsie is a very vivacious lady and looked absolutely wonderful with her snowy white hair wearing a jeweled crown atop her curls and dressed in a cobalt blue outfit.
I think there must have been 100 people at the sandwich and dessert luncheon held in the church social room to celebrate with their oldest member. There was a big color portrait of Elsie in the entry way, with a wide border for all to sign their names.
Her birthday is actually Feb. 27, so she has more celebrating to do but this was the biggest, with her out-of-state daughters, Carol Bertz of Denver, Colo., and Diane Rogers of Panama City Beach, Fla.; many relatives from California, Canada, New York and all points in Ohio; two students from her teaching days at a one-room schoolhouse; and many of her friends from church and the community in attendance. There is a son, Ronald of New Philadelphia, who could not attend.
Her memory amazed the congregation when she got up and recited the poem, "The Last Leaf," by Oliver Wendell Holmes. The group learned that she had about 50 more poems in her vast memory bank.
Elsie was born in Harrison County, graduated from Jewett High School in 1930, as the valedictorian; went to Kent State during the Depression; and became a school teacher for eight years, in one-room schoolhouses that including teaching all eight grades. She even made an extra $5 per month by coming in early and firing up the pot belly stove to have it warm for the pupils.
She married David Selway on Dec. 27, 1938, and the couple had three children. Over the years, nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren were added to the family.
Along with having a wonderful memory for poems, Elsie is said to have "an infinity for numbers." She can tell you the birth dates of each family member and the wedding anniversary of each of the couples.
She became a seasoned traveler, attending the Chicago World's Fair in 1936, before her marriage and has traveled with all three sisters to many states, with Elsie always at the wheel.
A love of music is ingrained in her soul, as she loves listening to the Big Bands and taught herself to play the organ by listening to "Your Hit Parade" each Saturday night.
Sports is another interest to Elsie. She watches Ohio State football games and when her team makes a touchdown, her daughter, Diane, calls from Florida and Elsie answers the phone with the letters O-H and her daughter adds the I-O.
The Cleveland Indians are her favorite baseball team, and she was disappointed in 1954 when they lost the World Series. In earlier years, she was known to sit in the couple's garage and listen to the Tribe on the radio of their 1949 Cadillac.
Her most important love is the Lord, and she wants her friends and family to know how much Christ means to her. Her favorite Bible scripture is John 3:16.
When asked about her longevity, she said, "I have never been on a diet and never used any vitamins."
It is unusual for someone 100 years old to be visited by two of her pupils from the days of the old Cole School that was on the family farm.
Ed Busby of Hopedale was present at her party and told about each individual class going to the front of the room to do their recitations. "Everyone heard each other's lessons and those in the lower grades came to know studies that were beyond their years. Miss Cole (Elsie) taught me in the seventh and eighth grades," he said.
Freida Dodds Patterson of Fresno, Ohio, was her first-grade pupil. She remembered the big stove that sat in the middle of the room, as did Ed.
Lamont and I shared a table with Lorraine and Charles Ramsey of Richmond and Alyce Rothel of Cadiz and her son, Jeff. The women are Elsie's distant nieces. They told of Elsie's love of poetry, the Lord and this country.
She has always said, "This is the greatest country in the world," Lorraine said.
Saturday was the belated Valentine's dinner at Lunches with Love. Our place cards had us seated with friends, John and Sandi Corrigan and Mollie Ballarin. Every time we get together, we talk about the time I came to their home, probably 25 or more years ago, to do a newspaper carrier story on their son, Darrin, who was selected as the carrier of the week.
The talk comes about because our sons are both named Darrin or Darin, as in our son's name. It isn't a common name. Now they are both husbands and fathers, and time marches on. Sandi told me that Darrin ran into Todd Greene, who recalled being her son's district manager when he was carrying the news to Mingo customers.
Present at the dinner was Mary Volney, a dear friend who visited her sister, Agnes Short, often. Agnes was our neighbor so we always saw each other. She was with Pearl Mazure.
Rudy Micker invited me to the Rush Run Community Chapel on March 4 for a special commemorative program they are holding. Gladys Brumett was with Rudy and Sonya Micker. They attend the same church and their pastor, James Monogioudis, came in later.
Leona and Ray Zifzal, who swing back and forth from their home in Piney Fork to North Royalton, were at the dinner, along with Leona's sister, Ann Marie Grayzar, and Stan and Mary Frances Krulcik.
It was wonderful to see Flora "Flip" Harkins after several years. We both spent our sons' younger years dashing about to Little League games. Her husband, Dave, was manager of the Smithfield "Jets," and Lamont was manager of the Smithfield "Spartans." There was always a rivalry between the two village teams, but we always stayed friends.
Irma Tweedy Taylor was with Flip, and I learned for the first time that they are sisters.
Mary Ann and Russell Clark, practically still newlyweds, shared the table with the sisters.
Our street department retiree, Roger Cline, was at the dinner with his wife, Lisa.
Pat Taylor and her son, Doug Marshall, went out of their way to make an excellent dinner of baked steak, stuffed chicken breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, California mixed veggies, salad, homemade rolls and a wonderful array of cake desserts.
Rose Bell was selling the dinner tickets, and Liz McHugh was in charge of the door prizes. Carol Kourim, Mike Ecker and Sherri Matthews were helping in the kitchen.
Lilly Bressler breezed back into town from North Carolina just in time to see her Boomers story in the Herald-Star.
Along with being evacuated from Italy during World War II and coming to the United States with a strong determination to see that her sons got a college education and then having them pass on scholarships to two Steubenville High School seniors each year, she is now becoming famous due to the story.
"Everybody tells me they saw my picture in the paper," she said at the luncheon were I was invited on her return to Richmond. And she reminded me that her husband had been from Austria not Australia, as I had reported.
Her friend, Stella Panilla, who saw Lilly's twin sons in the incubator at a very young age and helped care for them, was at the luncheon along with son, Nick, his wife and young daughter.
You never go away hungry around Lilly. She tried to push everything on the Scaffidi's menu on me. She is one feisty lady.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and the Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)