(By the Star's Own Service) Clinton, Mo., December 20-- "Christmas isn't what it used to be when I was a little girl." 103-year-old Mrs. Sarah Slavens of Clinton said today.
And by the way, today was Mrs. Slavens's 103rd birthday.
Mrs. Slavens, called "Granny" by her neighbors, sat in her favorite chair, near the stove and watched the photographer prepare his equipment.
Asks About Her Shawl.
"Does my shawl look all right?" she asked anxiously. "I've got my new apron on," she added. She looked rueful. "But it doesn't go with this dress."
She went on to give her view on the 1951 Christmas season.
"Used to be when I was little girl, folks really enjoyed Christmas. They came to see you because they really wanted to. Now it seems like they do it just to please you, and not because they really want to.
"I like friends," she added.
She told of the first Christmas she remembered.
"I was 3 years old," she said. "I remember that I was sitting on my father's lap and they were teasing me about some little boy.
"We didn't know anything about Santa Claus, but we always hung up our stockings every year and my mother always baked doughnuts to put in them. And doughnuts are still my favorite dessert."
Tells of Various Wars.
Mrs. Slavens went on to talk of all the wars she'd lived through.
"Looks like this one is the worst one," she said, "but it really doesn't surprise me. You know, the Bible says we'll always have wars.
"I can remember the Civil war quite well. I helped my father move trunk loads of our household goods to the woods, to hide them from the Republicans."
"You can tell what my politics are," she added with a chuckle.
Clinton's oldest resident lives in a small house with Miss Mattie Logan, her nurse.
Despite her age, Mrs. Slavens is in perfect health-- seldom is troubled with colds, has no rheumatism, and "feels fine-- just fine."
She eats what she likes, whenever she likes it, and especially enjoys meat.
"But meat prices are just awful high," she complained.
Today Mrs. Slavens had liver lor lunch. For breakfast she always has an egg-- "they're best poached." she says. Her favorite drink is buttermilk.
Very Fond of Buttermilk.
Miss Logan, the nurse, added that drinking buttermilk was "Granny's only real vice."
Mrs. Slavens was born in Pike County, Missouri, moved from there to Montgomery County, and later to LaDue. Her maiden name was Sarah Elisa Settles.
She was married when 19 years old, while the smoke of the Civil war still was clinging to the countryside. Her husband was M. Brown, a young veteran of that war.
Brown died shortly after their marriage. Mrs. Slavens continued to live in Clinton, where she later met and was married to Mr. Slavens. He died before World War I.
Mrs. Slavens, who regards anyone less than 75 as "quite young," cannot walk too well, although she gets about the house by supporting herself on special hand-rails attached to the furniture. Her vision has dimmed somewhat, and her hearing is imperfect but effective.
Her eyes are the most striking thing. They are a deep blue, and when she sits with hands folded, as she often does, her eyes blaze with stirring intensity.
Time a Bit Confusing.
Mrs. Slaven's memory is good. She sometimes gets her time mixed, and speaks of the Civil war as if it were only a few years ago, or of wagons as if they had been driven from the streets only recently, but she doesn't seem too concerned about time.
"We used to make all our own clothes," she remembered. "We girls would spin and sing at the top of our voices." She paused and considered a minute. "Those were good days," she said.
Her father, Mrs. Slavens recalled, bought the first land at LaDue when he moved into Henry County as a farmer. Later, she said, her father reached the highest order of Masonry. She is very proud of that.
"I gave his apron to one of my grandchildren," she said. "It was a beautiful thing."
The death of her first husband from sickness incurred in the war brings Mrs. Slavens a S40 a month Civil war pension check-- one of the few widow's checks, she believes, now being drawn.
Kansas City (Missouri) Times, December 21, 1951.
Copyright © 2007 Larry Slavens. All rights reserved.