It was standing room only for the large crowd that gathered to help Mrs. Jones celebrate. The well wishers were children, adults, teenagers, grandchildren of all levels, neighbors, church friends, and friends of friends. She was kept busy opening gifts, posing for pictures and getting hugs from everyone.
A large blue and white birthday cake was served to the guests with vanilla ice cream and drinks.
Mrs. Jones was the life of the party, with her bright eyes and keen wit still well in tact. She captivated the audience with her short quotes and humorous recollections. The whole party revolved around Mrs. Jones, as she sat poised in her new pink and white flannel day dress, complete with a soft white corsage. Her long white hair was done up on the back of her head in a gentle twist. Her cheeks still had that youthful pinkish glow in them, and her delightful chuckle of laughter could be heard throughout the room.
Visitors took turn posing with Mrs. Jones and telling her who they were, and how they knew her. Mrs. Jones recognized many visitors, even though she had not seen them for quite a while. When guests told her they would be back to visit her again, she said, "Don't wait too long, or I might not be here."
Everyone wanted to hear her relate her experiences of the past 100 years, and to tell things about her life growing up, marrying and having her family.
Mrs. Jones was born on July 13, 1903, on Reagen's Mountain, just outside Fort Smith. Her parents, Cordis and Leora Johnson, raised eight children. The siblings included Walter, Floyd, Floy, Samuel, Buren, Naomi and Gracie. Floy had a twin brother, Floyd, and she went on to have twins of her own.
Mrs. Jones married Orville Jones in 1923, when she was 20. She perked up, eyes dancing, and sat tall in her chair, when asked how she met Orville.
"He really took my eye," Mrs. Jones said. "He was such a good and kind man, and I knew right off he was the one for me. My daddy was a Freewill Baptist Church preacher, so I wanted a good Christian man for my husband also. Orville wasn't a preacher, but he could have been one, as he knew his Bible and lived by the golden rule."
"He always treated me good, and I never had any trouble out of him," Mrs. Jones said. "We argued a little, from time to time, but never had a real fight."
Floy and Orville had five children of their own, Everett, twins Velta and Vernon, Dorothy and Laucretia.
Mrs. Jones was well educated for her time, completing the eighth grade in a rural school in the Ferda Community, near Pine Bluff.
"That was all they offered at the rural schools at that time," Mrs. Jones said. "I liked school and wanted to learn all I could. I still have my school books."
Mrs. Jones loves children, and especially loved them attending her birthday party.
"I have always been surrounded by kids," said Mrs. Jones. "When I was growing up we hatched them out by the dozens. We always found fun things to play, from jumping rope, climbing trees or just calling doodle bugs."
After Mrs. Jones and her family moved to the bottom lands, near Trumann, they attended the Bolliver Pentecostal Church, and she has many happy memories of time spent there.
"Church has always been important to me too, as I consider that half of my education," Mrs. Jones said. "I love to go to church. I love to clap my hands and shout, `Praise the Lord.' I like the singing, and I always took part, when I could get out and attend the services. I got a piano and taught myself to play. I wasn't ever good at either one, but gave them my all, and made a joyful noise. I could ride a bike, but didn't want to.
"We lived on a farm and raised everything, cattle, hogs, chickens and vegetables, anything that goes with life. Later Orville went to work carrying mail from the train depot to the post office in Trumann. He also worked as a janitor at the Trumann Lamp Plant."
Mrs. Jones has always been a hard worker, too, and would tackle about anything that needed doing, and seemed to take joy in it all. She was still keeping her own house and mowing her own yard, way up into her nineties. She made her first trip to the doctor, when she broke her hip in 1992, while sweeping the back side of her house in Trumann. She started having mini-strokes three years ago, and her daughter Dorothy encouraged her to sell her house and move to Lake City, to live with her. The family helped build a large bedroom onto Dorothy's house, so Mrs. Jones could have her own furniture, her family photographs, her doll collection, her rocking chair, her table and chairs, television, piano, and her prized possessions with her.
"It's not home here, but it is comfortable, and everyone treats me good," Mrs. Jones said. "I like to me my own boss, and am most of the time. Barbara and Jannette (from the Area Agency on Aging) come by to see me almost every day."
"I didn't hold to running to the doctor with everything when I was growing up." Mrs. Jones said. "Momma had a lot of home remedies and passed them on to me. We just tried to eat good, and work hard so we would sleep good, then get up the next day and start all over. I had all five of my babies at home, and thought nothing of it, as that is what people did back then."
Mrs. Jones lived through the great depression, devastating floods, world wars, and flu epidemics. She recalls the days before electricity or modern conveniences. She can still remember her recipe for making lye soap and keeps a bar of it in her room to show to the grandkids. She recalls making hominy in the same large pot that she made lye soap in, and churning homemade ice cream on the Fourth of July. She rode a mule, traveled in a horse drawn buggy, tractor, then graduated on to cars, trains, busses, and airplanes.
"You had to watch those horses, as they would just spray you when you were all dressed up to go somewhere," Mrs. Jones said. "Mom would ride side saddle, like ladies did back then."
Even though Mrs. Jones has never voted, she has kept up with who was president, all 18 of them. When she woke up on Saturday, she told her daughter Dorothy that she just knew the president was going to come to visit her on her birthday. Dorothy explained that President Bush was a busy man, and most likely would not be by to visit. Mrs. Jones argued with her, saying, "But it is my 100th birthday, and you know he is not going to miss that."
"I wish I knew someone who looked like President Bush, so I could get him to come by and see her," Dorothy said. "She sincerely believes that he is coming."
Mrs. Jones would not be swayed when asked about a presidential visit.
"He'll be by after while, sometime before dark, just wait and see," said Mrs. Jones.
Kind of makes you want to find a phone number for Mr. Bush and request an executive visit. No doubt, the president would enjoy Mrs. Jones' company. She has things worthy of being passed along to the nation, like living frugally and modestly, giving praise to God for all things, working hard wherever work could be found, investing yourself in neighbors and friends, and counting yourself rich for having raised good kids and grandkids.