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There’s only one candle on Lallage Jones’ birthday cake. Since Lallage is celebrating her 101st birthday today, she’s entitled to as many or as few candles as she wants.
And Lallage, a retired educator and “preacher’s wife,” hasn’t lost her sense of humor about reaching the milestone.
Born Oct. 11, 1908, she had one early birthday celebration with family and friends during this week’s Golden Age Group luncheon at First United Methodist Church.
Lallage was greeted by a chorus of “Happy Birthday” on Tuesday as soon as she walked into the basement fellowship hall. An interdenominational group, the Golden Age Group meets once a month for fun and fellowship.
“You know, I used to make the statement ‘Some days I feel like I’m 100 years old,’ ” she said, laughing. “Now when I say it, you better believe it.”
Jones said she has no idea why God has blessed her with such a long life.
She has two children, Nancy Bradley, of Lake Wateree and Susan Helms of Montgomery, Ala.; two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“I really don’t know how I’ve lived so long,” she said. “Nobody in our family has lived to be 100 years old.”
Bradley thinks it may be her mom’s sunny disposition.
“She is just a positive person and doesn’t dwell on the negative things,” Bradley said. “And she’s always been that way.”
Jane Carroll of the Golden Age Group, agreed, saying a great attitude and wonderful sense of humor keeps Jones going strong.
“My sister met her this summer and said, ‘Jane, her mind is better than mine,’ ” Carroll said. “She is an absolute delight. I think we’d all do well to take lessons from her.”
In February, Lallage was at White Oak Manor with 100-year-old friend Sadie Sweatt to celebrate Mildred Caskey McWaters making it to the century mark. McWaters died June 3.
“Lallage is truly amazing” said McWaters’ daughter Nancy Crolley. “She sent Mother a birthday card that said, ‘Happy birthday, old woman. You finally caught up with me.’ ”
Lallage married to the late Rev. Edward S. “Ed” Jones Jr. in 1931 and they were together for 58 years. Much of her life has revolved around the church and her family.
Early in his ministry, Lallage said Ed was an honest-to-goodness circuit preacher with three country churches in the Columbia Methodist District.
“We lived in a parsonage without power or running water,” she said. “Ed bought a secondhand sink and ran a drain pipe out into the garden, but he still had to pull water from a well. We both took our baths in a tin tub every Saturday, but this was before we had children. That made things much easier.”
The Joneses came to Lancaster in 1968 when Ed Jones became pastor at First Methodist. He served in that capacity until 1968, when the Joneses left for a church in North Charleston, where he served as pastor for three years.
The Joneses served at several state churches during Ed’s 59 years with the S.C. United Methodist Conference, but Lancaster became their home. They moved back here in 1971 after Ed retired and was hired as chaplain at Elliott White Springs Memorial Hospital. Ed was also an active civic leader and was president of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club.
Lallage said the role as hospital chaplain suited her husband’s personality.
“Ed would sometimes sit with families all night when they were going through tough times,” she said. “He wasn’t afraid to get in there and ask doctors the hard questions when no one else could get an answer. That way, he could comfort a hurting family.”
Meanwhile, Lallage was teaching math at South Junior High School. Even after retiring from the classroom in the late 1970s, Lallage served as a substitute teacher when needed.
“I taught here 13 years,” the Converse College graduate said. “I also taught English in the Charleston schools while Ed was pastoring there. I had enough credits to teach the class and they needed an English teacher at the time.”
Ed also gained the nickname “the minister of the county” for his ability to fill in for a fellow shepherd on a moment’s notice. Denominations mattered little to Ed Jones; if he was needed, he went.
Ed preached somewhere almost every Sunday until 1986, when he was sidelined by health issues. He died June 27, 1989.
“I never saw being a minister’s wife as a chore and enjoyed every minute of it. I grew up in church and it was a pleasure,” Lallage said. “The people we served were always lovely to us.”
Despite her age, Lallage remains active in First United Methodist Church. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, she will be in the Lou Riddle Bible Class this morning just like usual.
The only thing unusual will be the significance of the day.
“You know,” she said, almost whispering, “I think I’ve lived a pretty normal life.
“I’ve just been living a little longer than most,” Lallage said, laughing.
Here’s what was happening in the county 101 years ago, according to the Oct. 10, 1908, edition of The Lancaster News.
– The Rev. W.A. Fairy of the Methodist Church married Mr. Walter Terry, a popular young man from North Carolina, to Miss Salley Bennett at the Bennett home on Market Street. “Miss Bessie Lemmond presided over the punch bowl and the refreshing liquid was served by little misses Perry Bell Bennett and Olivett Blackmon.” After the ceremony, the couple took the afternoon train to Hamlet, N.C., to spend a few days with the groom’s parents.
– Two hundred or more youths’ and childrens’ suits made in the newest styles and colors had just arrived at the Williams-Hughes Co. Meanwhile, T.Y. Williams has 200 bushels of pure appler oats on sale for 85 cents a bushel. Mrs. Mary Bell had a few ladies’ tailored suits on hand and was selling them at bargain prices.
– Mr. R.E. Wylie, the former mayor of Lancaster, was stranded in Kershaw for the night after the train pulled out while he was shopping at a local mercantile. “He was glad, however, of the opportunity to stop and enjoy drinking some of Kershaw’s good deep well water.”
– Mr. W.T. Gregory of the Gregory-Hood Livestock Co., was in New York to attend a national meeting of the Carriage Dealers Association while, the finishing touches were being put on the new 2-story brick Gregory-Hood building to replace the one destroyed by fire earlier in the year.
– There was big news in Pleasant Hill, too. “Two fellows went opossum hunting on Mr. J.S. Marshall’s place a week or two ago and saw something get after the dog. They thought it was a bear, but I think they were so excited that they did not know what it was. Said that they did not run any, but I suspect that they struck a trot.”
– Here is a portion of an editorial denouncing the local black market alcohol business.
“Despite the fact that it had been three years since a dispensary had been voted out of the county, the citizens here did not seem to be getting the prohibition they voted for. If current reports are to be believed, a considerable quantity of liquor is being sold. Occasionally, a blind tiger is caught up with and punished. But some of them are so shrewd that they manage to successfully elude the officers of the law.”
– Contact features editor Greg Summers at 283-1156.