Catherine Hall, in her own words

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 22, 2015

On being 100 years old

By Catherine Cheek Hall

How does it feel to be 100 years old? The same way it has felt all my life. I’m still the same person with the same basic needs of food, family and shelter, and I have many memories going back — way back, literally to the house and buggy days.

We had no television or even radio. We did have an old reed organ with two pedals that had to be pedaled constantly to keep the air flowing through the bellows. My oldest sister, Margie, played the Baptist hymns for our family sing-a-longs. She actually taught me a bit, which I enjoyed. We traded the old organ in and bought a used piano when I was in high school. I took a few lessons one year.

I lived on a farm in Alamance County, North Carolina. Life was less complicated. We made our own clothes or we did without.

I was born Aug. 6, 1915, in a little mill house at the end of the narrow, wooden bridge over the Haw River in Saxapahaw, N.C. Today, Saxapahaw is considered a bedroom community of Chapel Hill, but then it stood on his own as a little spinning mill village, and my father was working there while our family lived on the farm. My brother helped a lot.

We grew cotton, which I helped pick, and corn (we had corn shuckings), wheat and hay for the mules and our white horse, Dolly, who pulled our buggy to Moores Chapel Baptist Church on Sundays — when we didn’t walk. I remember doing a lot of walking in my childhood, both to school and to church, sometimes in the rain.

Feed for the farm animals came in colorful printed cloth bags, and we would unravel the stitched seams, wind the thread on to balls and use it for tying up things. We used the cloth for making pretty blouses and skirts on our old Franklin pedal sewing machine. I remember using Irish lace to trim one dress, and it actually was very attractive.

 

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