98 years and looking for more

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mable Clair Smith greeted every single person at her birthday party before ever taking a bite of her cake for her 98th birthday on Tuesday.

The room resounded with “and many more” at the end of the birthday song, as more than 40 friends and family gathered at Cedar Hill Assisted Living in the Vaughn Place for Senior Living to celebrate her birthday.

“When I was 20, I didn’t think I’d even live to be 50, and well, I did,” Smith said.

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She looks forward to many more years, and her family is already thinking about what to do for her 100th birthday.

“We’re proud she’s 98,” said Randy Smith, the birthday girl’s nephew. “She’s the oldest resident out here.”

He joked that she had a number nine and number eight candles on her cake instead of lighting all the 98 candles.

“It sets off the alarm,” Randy Smith said. “We can’t have that in a place like this.”

Mable Clair Smith, born on Dec. 29, 1911, never married, but her remaining relatives, four nephews and two nieces, chose to celebrate her birthday with her in a big fashion.

“We sent invitations to all the residents at Cedar Hill because this is her extended family,” Randy Smith said. “We’ve got some family that have come a good ways.” Her actually family came in from Baton Rogue, La., Birmingham and Panama City, Fla., to be a part of the festivities.

Mable Clair Smith worked for 50 years as a bookkeeper for wholesale grocery stores in Selma, and then volunteered with the hospitals until she was 95.

“She was pushing wheelchairs at the hospital at 95,” Randy Smith said.

Joking that she is the only girlfriend his wife approves of him having, and the only girlfriend he has ever had, Buddy Hardin, one of her many friends, met her seven years ago because they both walked the same path around New Live Oak Cemetery each morning.

He would trace a path of 5 miles, while she did 2 miles with one of her friends.

“Then, one morning, she stopped me and said ‘I’ve seen you in here every morning, who are you?’” Hardin said.

From that moment on, they were friends, stopping to converse during their morning walks. Every morning, whether warm or cold, he would see Mable Clair Smith in her shorts.

“It would be in the 20s and she’ll still be on her shorts.”

Even at her party on Tuesday, she donned pink shorts.

“I envy her because she’s 98 and till going strong,” Hardin said.