- Posted January 9, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Cultural census: Get around
"I’m Still Here 113 Years Young and Counting"
Interesting questions, you might say. But one woman in Camden, Arkansas has seen the world change over a century, and is still alert and ‘sharp’ enough to talk about it.
Camden resident Gertrude Weaver was born in 1898 and is 113 years young.
To put that into perspective, consider these world events in that year:
* Madame Curie and her husband, Pierre, discovered radium and polonium,
* The United States defeated Spanish forces in the Spanish-American War.
Two years earlier, Apache Native American warrior Geronimo surrendered to the United States government. Thirty-three years earlier, President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated.
While her life has been long and she has seen several worldwide changes, Weaver is appreciative of the little things. For example, she still has her own teeth and does not wear dentures, and she can still eat practically anything she wants.
Her lifespan has become a point of interest to a senior consultant for gerontology for the Guinness Book of World Records. The consultant is in the process of verifying that Weaver is actually 113 years old to see if she is the oldest living African-American woman.
An internet news blog recently reported that the oldest African-American, Mississippi Winn, died on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011 at the age of 113. If all of Weaver's information can be confirmed, she could be named the world's oldest living African-American.
Weaver's date of birth is recorded in the United States Census of 1900. In 2010, the Social Security Administration presented Weaver with a certificate that confirmed that she was born in 1898.
In interviews with Weaver, it is apparent her speech has become a bit slower and more slurred. However, she is still mentally alert and has an amazing memory.
She currently lives at the Silver Oaks Rehabilitation Center in Camden, but not because of her own failing health. She is there because her family member and caregiver became ill and could no longer take care of Weaver single-handedly.
Weaver was born to Charles and Ophelia Gain in 1898 in a rural area between Lewisville and Garland City in Arkansas near the Red River. Her grandparents were Mangel and Martha Jeffus. She is the youngest of seven children, and had three brothers and three sisters.
Her parents and grandparents were sharecroppers and lived off of the land. She said this meant hard work for her at an early age.
She grew up and married Gennie Weaver in 1914, just as the world was entering the first World War. Weaver and her husband had four children.
When asked how she managed to live such a long and full life, she replied: "Hard work, trusting in the Lord and loving everybody."
"Oh, the things I could tell you," she said as she started to reminisce about her life. "I can remember a time when there was no electricity. We used to get pine cones - because of the pine oil - and we would put them in buckets and barrels and light them. That's what we used for light. They burned for a long time - and kept mosquitos and flies away."
She said she "worked all the time," milking the cows, feeding the chickens, quilting and helping to take care of a very large garden.
When she turned 111 years younger, Weaver received acknowledgment from President Obama and wife, Michelle. The letter was signed personally by the President and his wife.
During a recent visit with Weaver, she said if she had a chance to meet the president she would hug him. “I would cook for him too,” she said with a chuckle. “If I could.”
When asked about her beauty routine, she said she wanted to share this advice with all women: "Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize."
Her favorite saying "I'm still here."