For someone who generally does not like to tell her age, turning 100 was the exception for Edna Peterson. Born Sept. 24, 1912, Edna Underwood Peterson celebrated her third 100th birthday party Monday and she did not have much choice but to tell her age.
Peterson was the eldest child of Burse and Delilah Underwood. She had five sisters and two brothers.
“I have out lived them all,” she attested during a recent interview. “I was the oldest and now I am the only one left. Being the last one has been one of the toughest parts of my life,” shared the Southwood resident.
The Rev. Odell Peterson, one of Edna’s two sons, was with her during the most recent celebration and shared that his mother had been a resident at Southwood for seven years now.
“After daddy died, we had several ladies to come in and stay with her. But when she fell and broke her hip, the hospital said she had to come to a skilled nursing center and we brought her here. Due to the poor health of the lady that was staying with her, we decided that is would be better for her to remain at Southwood. She really enjoys it here,” expressed the Rev. Peterson.
When asked how she made it to be 100 years old, Peterson responded with a smile. “I wonder too.”
She did say that her husband had taken really good care of her as did her children and grandchildren. “I am not sure why I have lived so long. No one in my family has ever lived this long. My mother died when she was 92 and my daddy died at 69. I guess I have been fortunate to have such a good husband and family to help me live a full life.”
Edna married Edwin Peterson of the Peters Creek area and they had two sons — Odell and Howell — and one daughter, Betty P. Jones. She now has five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Peterson shared that she thought getting “lights” was the best thing to come about during her lifetime.
“I remember when we got lights or electricity. It changed everything because we could now turn on the light and see when it was dark; it was much better than with candles and lanterns. It is funny how we called getting electricity, getting lights, but that was what was so great about it back then, and it was what we mainly used electricity for, because it was before television and all the things we use electricity for today,” she explained.
The birthday girl shared that growing up on a farm was a lot of hard work, and she did most anything one could do, from picking cotton to tending the animals while growing up.
“I remember the Depression. It was a bad time. No one had anything. People would use Hoover Carts instead of cars,” stated the centenarian.
Odell explained that a Hoover Cart was what people of that time period called a cart during the Depression, a time when people were so poor they could not drive the Model-Ts. Instead, they took the rear-end from the Model-T and made a cart with it to be pulled by a team of oxen, mules or horses.
“Life during the Depression was really different. No one had anything and it was a really difficult time for all of us,” stated Peterson.
In addition to electricity, Peterson said her washing machine was probably the best invention to help her around the house.
“My husband had built me a huge wash house with a big furnace. Getting a washing machine really helped not have to use that wash pot any longer and made it much easier to clean our clothes,” explained the centenarian.
Television was very exciting when it came to town as well, Peterson recalled.
“I remember when McRae Warren would put a television in the window of his hardware store in Garland. People would come from everywhere and stand in the street to watch the World Series. It is funny now to think how everyone came out to watch TV through the store window.
She also admits the invention of fans and air conditioning were nice changes to come about.
“When the barber shop in Garland put in air conditioning, they put up a big sign that read, ‘It’s cool inside, come on in!’” said Peterson.
She said her life had been good and she had lived it much as she wanted, but she stressed that there were difficult times. One, she noted, was having to watch her son, Odell, go off to war. “That was hard,” she said.
In addition to being a good housewife and mother, Peterson joined Antioch Methodist Church and eventually the ladies of the church for quilting and sewing bees.
“We would get together and make quilts and sale them. We raised enough money to buy the pulpit furniture that is currently in our church. I enjoyed quilting, sewing and the fellowship we had making those quilts,” she said.
Peterson shared that she enjoys sitting in her rocking chair and riding around Southwood visiting with other residents.
“I enjoy visits from friends and family, especially my children and grandchildren,” expressed Peterson.
For someone that does not like to tell her age, Peterson has celebrated the entire weekend. Monday’s party, given by her church, Antioch Methodist and Southwood Nursing Center, was the third one she has had. Saturday night members of her family celebrated with her at dinner and on Sunday, Odell’s church, Evergreen Baptist Church of Autryville brought 60 members out to help Peterson celebrate. Her daughter-in-law, Barbara, laughed and shared that Peterson told them “she was still 99 and would not be 100 until Monday.”
“It has been wonderful. I have had a good life and everyone has been so nice to recognize me for my 100th birthday. It has been very special for me and I just want to say thank you,” remarked Peterson.