Truro woman celebrates milestone birthday

April 9, 2009

Jeanette Muriel Brown has experienced ‘some good times, some bad times’ during her 100 years

Jeanette Muriel Brown wishes she could turn back the clock.

Brown, who celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday, became a wife at 16 and a mother at 17.

“I couldn’t get back to school because I had to look after the children,” said Brown, who lives at Wynn Park Villa in Truro.

She was determined to get her high school diploma, however, and finally did at the age of 63.

“If I can do it at 63, (kids) should be able to do it at 18.”

Brown was born in Truro in 1909, three years before the Titanic sunk and five years before the First World War began.

She doesn’t remember much about Truro from her childhood since she moved to Cape Breton when she was about seven. She later lived in the United States for many years, married her first husband Charles Paris, had three children and managed a successful co-op store in Hartford, Conn.

“We went to the various stores and we sold the stuff to them as we bought it. We didn’t make a profit,” Brown explained. “That’s not what it was all about. It was about helping the people.”

Brown also moved back and forth between the U.S. and Truro during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

“The only thing I can remember from the Depression is that we all had to tighten our belts. You couldn’t spend what you didn’t have.”

During the Second World War, Brown worked in an ammunition factory in Montreal.

“I worked there for two years as an inspector,” she said. “I inspected the casings.”

Brown married her second husband, Lewis Brown, in 1958 (he died in 2002) and moved back to Truro for good about 30 years ago. Unfortunately, some of the same problems she witnessed in her younger years regarding people of her race was still evident.

“I was so surprised when I came back home and found that it had not changed as far as black people were concerned. I didn’t see them (being offered) jobs. I still don’t.”

Besides her three children (two of whom have died), Brown has nine grandchildren and said she can’t count how many great-grandchildren she has.

“But my great-great-grandchildren, I think I have 15 of them,” she said. “I’m happy I’m at this age and I can see some of my great-great-grandchildren.”

She reflected on reaching the century milestone.

“Let’s just say it’s been half-and-half,” said Brown, who was surrounded by friends and family at a birthday party at the fire hall in Truro. “Some good times, some bad times.”

Good genes is one of the keys to Brown’s longevity. Her mother died at 92 and her grandfather was in his 90s.

Brown cites hard work and common sense as two other important ingredients to leading a good life.

“I was taught to do what you have to do with what you’ve got.”

(This was published in the April 8, 2009 issue of the Truro Daily News.)

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One Response to “Truro woman celebrates milestone birthday”

  1. Laurisa Claytor said

    Thank you so much for posting this article on my Great-Grandmother! I was just in Truro last year to see her and she is such an inspiration to me!!! I love and admire her so much! Again, thank you.

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