Local nursing home resident Tabbie Carter to celebrate 105th birthday Saturday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ms. Tabbie Carter, who will celebrate her 105th birthday, on Saturday at the Luverne Health and Rehab, is delicate and dainty in appearance, but beneath the surface she is one of the south's last remaining Steel Magnolias.

Having witnessed a lifetime of tremendous changes in our country, she reminisced in a family video, about a by-gone era in which people could leave home, or go to bed at night, and leave their doors unlocked. Sitting on her front porch swing, in the Rogers Community, near Goshen, when she was in her nineties, she talked about her life and times, and how she views the world today.

"Families have drifted so far apart," she said. "People use to visit and help one another, but they don't do that anymore!"

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She laughed a lot, in the interview, talking about the closeness of her own family, peanut farming, the old black wash pot in the backyard, and making lye soap out of pot ash and grease. She remembered the ice truck coming, and when she had to keep her fresh milk in the well.

"When I got my driver's license," she said. "You just went down and signed up, and all the babies were born at home back then."

"She decided on her own to stop driving her car when she was 90," said Irene Carter, her daughter-in-law. "She also decided to come into the nursing home herself."

Her son, Roy Carter, remembers her trading eggs for necessities during the Depression.

"She never let things dampen her spirits," he said. "She didn't believe in drinking or smoking, and she expected her family to honor that, and they all have."

Ms. Tabbie, who has always been meticulous about her appearance, housekeeping and cooking, has a reputation for making the best apple tarts in south Alabama, with apples from her own trees. She also sewed all her own clothes and her children's clothing, when they were growing up. Quilting was another one of

her talents, having made quilts for her three children and her 13 grandchildren. She also handed down, to her family, her beautiful crochet and needlepoint pieces, and she worked in her flower garden, until she was a 100, by using her walker.

"If Mama ever told you anything it was the truth," Roy Carter said. "And you had better tell her the truth! The maddest I ever saw her was the time Daddy, his nine brothers, and the field hands slipped off to Uncle Willie's to listen to the World Series on the radio. They were supposed to be shaking and stacking peanuts, but Daddy and his brothers had their own ball team and they loved baseball. When they came home that night, she let'em have it! But, they told her the truth!"

Roy also remembers once when he and his Dad were fishing on the Conecuh River with her, and she fell in!

"We didn't worry," he said "She could swim like a fish!

Ms. Tabbie's mother died when she was 13 and she went to live with her grandfather, James Allen Davison, a confederate soldier, who lived to be 100. She married her husband, Henry Reed Carter, in 1917, while sitting on a wagon. At the age of 18 she came to live at the old Carter home place, and she lived in the house until she came into the nursing home in 2000.

She will be celebrating her birthday this year with her son Roy Carter, her daughter Josephine Gibbs and their families. Also, a special niece who was born on her birthday, Eva Jo Morrow. Her eldest daughter, Frances and her husband, Henry, are deceased.

Ms. Tabbie's picture has also been submitted to The Today Show on NBC, by her nursing home family.

"Happy Birthday Ms. Tabbie", from Luverne Health and Rehab. "And many more."

(Grier is an employee at Luverne Health and Rehab.)