Flonnie Crumpler Craig and Sannie Purdie enjoy their days sitting and sharing memories of a time gone by and how much they miss their loved ones.
Memories and parents aren’t the only two things the sisters share. Both will celebrate their birthdays Sunday, May 6, with Craig turning 95 and Purdie turning 103.
Even at her age, Purdie isn’t as old as some of her other family members when they passed. Her father, Claude Crumpler, was 115 when he died in 1995. Purdie and Craig’s sister died at the age of 109.
The sisters were both born and raised in Sampson County. In Salemburg actually. Both live just beside the old home place. Their mother, Minnie Weeks from Keener, married their father and the two raised 13 children — 12 daughters, and a son. Purdie and Craig are the only two living.
Purdie married and had one son, but he died in 2016.
“That’s my boy there,” she said, as she pointed to a picture on her living room wall. “I sure do miss him.”
Craig, married twice, but never had any children.
For both, the secret to living a long life — obeying their parents.
“Children have to obey their parents,” Craig said. “I obeyed mine. I didn’t want to, but I did.”
Before she could finish her sentence, Purdie chimed in with, “That’s right! You have to obey them.”
The descendants of slaves, Purdie and Craig share their memories of the stories their father would tell. His parents, Calvin and Flonnie Crumpler, were slaves. Like his parents, he worked in the fields. Their father told them that he was grown and married before he ever rode in an automobile. Something he himself never owned.
Growing up, Purdie says Craig often found herself in trouble, but both ladies say they were never spanked by their father.
“She was as mean as the devil,” Purdie said about her younger sister.
“But Daddy never whipped me,” Craig interjected.
The sisters attended Rose Hill School. As an adult, Purdie says she has always worked as a cook. For many years, she worked in the kitchen at Pineland College.
“She’s a good cook,” Bernedette Crumpler said about her aunt. “She can cook some good cakes, and her biscuits — I can taste them now.”
While Purdie isn’t able to get in the kitchen and cook now, she says it wasn’t too long ago that she would walk into the kitchen, using a walker, pull up a chair and sit and make those homemade biscuits. But, not anymore.
“I can’t do it now,” Purdie added.
Even at 103, Purdie is in overall great health. She says she suffers from a little high-blood pressure and some arthritis in her shoulder.
“And, I don’t get around like I used to,” she said.
Craig is a cancer survivor, and other than a little arthritis in her knees, she says she is good health.
The sisters visit often — everyday if Craig can get someone to take her to Purdie’s house.
“It wasn’t too long ago, I walked through the woods,” Craig said. “Now, I use a cane and it’s hard to get through the field. Otherwise, I’d probably walk here now.”
If able, both ladies attend church just around the corner.
Throughout their lives, both sisters say they have seen many changes.
“I remember we used to get that penny candy,” Craig said. “You don’t get that anymore. I’d do my work and earn me a penny and go to the store to get five of those chocolate kisses.”
Four years ago, the family had a reunion. To their recollection, the sisters say there are at least six generations of Crumplers living today. Probably even more.
“There’s hundreds of us, and they keep coming,” Purdie added.
Sitting in Purdie’s living room, the sisters hold a picture of the parents and both stop for a minute and Purdie says, “That’s our mom and dad right there. He sure was a fine looking man.”
Both sisters give God the glory for their good health and long lives.
“I go to church, and I ask God to help me, and he does,” Craig said. “God is good and he takes care of us.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.