Beaufort woman reflects on happy 104 years

charley@beaufortgazette.comJune 10, 2012 

Mary Brown is poses June 7 inside her home in Beaufort. She celebrated her 104th birthday on May 27.

SARAH WELLIVER/LOWCOUNTRY LIFE

Mary Hamilton Brown credits her happy outlook in life and her faith in God for her longevity.

The 104-year-old said she has never been ill, takes no prescription medications and always wears a smile on her face.

Faith has been a constant in her life. She was raised in the church by her father, who was a pastor -- and her two brothers also were pastors.

Currently a member of Central Baptist Church in Beaufort, Brown still gets around her Beaufort home with the help of a walker and is able to take care of herself. She continues to do some cooking for herself and pays her own bills.

"She is amazing in so many ways," said her last surviving child, Jennie Robinson, who called her mother "encouraging."

Born on May 27, 1908, in the Jenkins community on New Road in Yemassee, Brown moved to Beaufort in the 1940s when the roads were made of dirt. After raising her children, she worked at the Parris Island laundry in the 1940s for 12 years, and at the former City Dry Cleaners in Beaufort. In 1970, she retired as a civil service employee from Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

The seventh of 13 children, Brown has two surviving brothers and a sister, all in their 90s.

While many of her friends have passed on, it is the children of her friends who continue to watch over her, Robinson said. She also receives a daily check in from Beaufort Police Department volunteers.

Question. What has been the best day of your life?

Answer. Every day. I have never laid in bed, not one day of my life.

Q. What do you watch on TV?

A. Religious television shows and the news.

Q. What factors have made your life better or worse over the years?

A. My life was always good. I have a blessed family. Two of my brothers were preachers, one of them was a healer. He healed me in 1961 when I had a stomach pain.

I appreciate electricity. Back in the day you had a kerosene lamp to see by. Now all you have to do is push a button.

I appreciate washing machines. I used to build a fire under a big pot of water to wash clothes.

It is also easier to just go buy rice in the store. I used to beat rice into mortar for us to eat.

Q. What decade would you like to relive if you could?

A. I don't know because my life has been so good, and because I was so happy all of my life.

Q. How did the onset of the Great Depression alter your dreams for your life?

A. The Great Depression was pretty rough. We didn't have money, but my sister was a seamstress and she could make me dresses. My daddy was a preacher and a farmer, and we had plenty to eat. We had hens who laid eggs by the dozen. We had a garden with plenty of fresh vegetables, and we had hogs. We would go in the river and catch washtubs full of shrimp, fish and oysters.

I was blessed all my life. I didn't want for nothing.

The years under President Hoover were pretty rough. We didn't see the light of day until President Roosevelt came along.

Q. Do you have any bad or good habits?

A. I tried smoking, but I didn't like it, and I am glad I didn't learn to like it.

I never walked (for exercise). I didn't have time to walk because I had to work. I was a working horse.

Q. What have been your biggest joys and greatest sorrows?

A. My greatest joys are my children and my grandchildren. My greatest sorrow in life was when my husband and two daughters died.

Q. Is there anyone you hope to meet in heaven?

A. I would love to meet my two daughters, Hessie and Evelyn, (who died as adults), and my husband.

Q. What advice do you give to others for living a long life?

A. Be good and kind, and don't lie and don't steal, and be honest and you will live long. And if you know better than to do something, don't do it.

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