Morrow celebrates 101st birthday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

“My first job was when I was 14-years-old,” said Hazel Morrow. “I worked at the courthouse at the tax assessor’s office during summer vacation.”

That may not seem like such a feat, but Morrow turned 14 in 1918, a time when most women did not have jobs outside of their homes.

“My mother used to say that she (Morrow) never liked to do work around the house, and would always pay them (her sisters) to do it,” said her niece Sybil Mott.

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Today, at the age of 101, she is still just as feisty and determined as ever.

“A friend of mine, who is still living too, told me that the reason that I have lived so long is because the Lord wasn’t ready for me and the devil wouldn’t have me,” said Morrow.

Born on April 4, 1904 in Columbiana, Morrow was the second oldest of five girls. Her mother, Eunice died when Morrow was 17. After that, her father Walter, raised her and her four sisters alone.

Morrow celebrates 101st birthday

By Valerie Ashmon

According to Mott, Morrow’s father did not remarry until all five girls were grown, and out of the house.

In 1920 at the age of 16, Morrow graduated from Columbiana High School. After graduation, she entered the workforce full time.

“I always worked,” said Morrow. “I did not have time for much else.”

In 1925, she bought her first car, a Ford Model T.

“Not many (women) had cars,” she said. “Not many (women) had jobs.”

While visiting her grandparents in Decatur, Ala., Morrow was told that the local bank was hiring. She applied, was hired, and in 1926, moved to Decatur. While there, she attended business school.

“The boys came home from the army and didn’t come back to the bank,” said Morrow. Times began to get better for women. The organization of bank women was just trying to get started then. When I joined, I was the thirtieth member in the state. When I left, there were over one hundred.”

Morrow worked at State National Bank for 43 years. According to her, she watched the State National Bank (now known as Compass Bank)change names and presidents several times.

“Ms. Hazel was working here when I came to work in 1965,” said Ann Boyd, Assistant Vice President for Compass Bank’s main branch. “She was a very lovely person and I had the good fortune of going to the same church that she attended, Fourteenth Baptist. She did a lot of different things in her career. For a while she worked in the audit department, and if I’m not mistaken, she also worked in our commercial loan department.”

When asked if she enjoyed working at the bank, Morrow laughed and said, “I reckon, I stayed there for forty-three years.”

Morrow never married or had children of her own, but she devoted much of her attention to the younger members of her family.

“She’s a very special person in our family – the last surviving member on Mother’s side,” said Mott. “She’s always been wonderful – remembered birthdays, special occasions, Christmas. We looked forward to getting packages (from her).”

On January 1, 1970, Morrow retired from the bank, and in 1990, she moved to Selma to live with her sister.

After the death of her sister three years ago, Morrow moved to Warren Manor Nursing Home. Last month, she moved to the Park Place Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

She no longer walks, and has a hearing problem, but is in reasonably good health. Her favorite food is fried chicken, but she loves to eat deserts, especially cake. Although the price of Coca-Cola has risen quite a bit from the five cents that she remembers, Morrow continues to drink one each day.

“When I was a kid growing up, my grandmother used to tell me that the Coke was going to kill me,” said Morrow. “Well, I have been drinking them for over one hundred years and it hasn’t killed me yet!”

She enjoys crossword puzzles and watching baseball and football games on the television.

“I can’t write any more, but crossword puzzles are enough,” said Morrow. “I can still read and watch ball games, especially the Braves. I have been watching them for many years.”

Morrow was joined by Mott and other family members on Sunday, April 3 to celebrate her 101 birthday.

“They’ve all got good genes,” said Mott. “I hope I’ve inherited some of them.”

When asked about her secret to such a long life, Morrow smiled and said, “I don’t know the answer to that. It could be worse, I know that.”