Out of a population of 308.7 million Americans, only around 53,000 people checked the age box “100 years and over,” according to the most recent 2010 U.S. Census Bureau records.
Today, one individual in Berea becomes part of that small group of American centenarians.
Cleona Babb will celebrate her 100th birthday today with friends and family at The Terrace Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Berea, where she has lived for more than three years.
Babb was born in Station Camp in Estill County to Harlan and Julie Estes, according to activities director Beverly Satterfield, who documented the life story of Babb in the nursing home’s newsletter.
Babb told Satterfield she grew up on a farm and was the eldest of sibling of four sisters Delma, Alma, Ann and Laura.
“I grew up on top of a mountain,” Babb said. “I walked two miles each way to the grocery store, church and school.”
Babb attended Station Camp School and never owned a car until she was married, she said.
“We raised all our food and canned food for the winter,” Babb told Satterfield. “After our chores were done, we would play for hours outdoors. All the young people would gather and play ball and horseshoes.”
One of the happiest days of her life was getting to go to the movies, Babb said.
Babb met John William Babb at church and they married in 1934.
The couple had three children, Jewell, Shirley and Darlene. Cleona now has eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Throughout her life, Cleona was a homemaker and worked as a house cleaner, cook and caretaker for other families, as well as her own.
“Cleona is a joy to talk with. She’s had many life experiences and we all could learn something from her,” Satterfield said.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-1669, ext. 6696.
News from 1912
• Nine buggies were sold at Welch’s Furniture in Berea on “Buggy Day” — April 11, 1912 edition of The (Berea) Citizen, Library of Congress
• “FOR SALE: A fine milk cow. Call Pres. (William Goodell) Frost’s residence,” (Berea College president 1892-1920). — May 9, 1912 edition of The (Berea) Citizen, Library of Congress
• The United States Department of Agriculture appoints Frank Montgomery, a trained agriculturalist, as Special Investigator for Berea College and the U.S.D.A. (now known as a county agent.) This was the first such federal appointment made in the state and the fifth in the United States as a whole. — community.berea.edu website
• “PRICE: $1.00 per year in advance”
— Cost of a subscription to the Richmond Climax newspaper published in May 1912 edition, Library of Congress.
• “Memorial services, commemorative of the horrible disaster to the Titanic, were held last Sunday in most of the churches throughout the land. The singing of the hymn ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ was a feature in many of the services. This hymn was played by the band as the mighty ship went down.” — News story from the April 24, 1912 edition of the Richmond Climax, Library of Congress
• The price of a “The American Lady Corset” was 49 cents at W.D. Oldham & Co. in Richmond where “House wives and June brides who want to make every dollar count more than 100 cents will realize their wish ...” — Advertisement from the June 19, 1912 edition of the Richmond Climax, Library of Congress.
• National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) considers federal action so unimportant, it budgets only $10 annually in 1912 NAWSA’s congressional Committee. Chairperson Alice Paul is told she needs to raise own funds.
— Library of Congress timeline
• Berea Market Prices:
Butter — 20 cents per pound
Eggs — 20 cents per dozens
Sweet potatoes — 75 cents per bushel
Chicken — 10 cents per pound
Wheat — $1 per bushel
— Oct. 10, 1912 edition of the Berea Citizen, Library of Congress
• Cost of one night at The Berea Hospital nurse training school of Berea College— “One dollar a day and up (bond for prompt payment required)” for the “best operating room and all modern appliance for care of a limited number of patients. Hospital treatment greatly increases prospects of recovery.” — Oct. 10, 1912 edition of the Berea Citizen, Library of Congress.