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January 31, 2013

Local resident to celebrate 100th birthday

On Feb. 11 Ruby Clifton will join an elite group — reaching the age of 100.

Living on her own until mid-December when she came down with pneumonia, Clifton is now a resident of Countryside Manor in Mt. Vernon.

“I’ve had my ups and downs, goodies and bad stuff, but I feel pretty good,” Clifton said recently from the lobby of the nursing home. “There have been a lot of changes in 100 years. I saw the first car that came to Dahlgren, and I’m from the generation of ring-up telephones. When it rang, everybody on the line answered it.”

Growing up in the Dahlgren area, Clifton is the oldest of three siblings of Mosie Scrivner and Mabel (Hook) Scrivner. Clifton and her father worked on the family farm when she was growing up.  Her father died of typhoid fever during the Flood of 1937.

“I liked to farm, and we had no tractors. He would plow and I would disc,” she said, adding, ”I didn’t like milking the cows.”

Her parents were also well-known in the Dahlgren area for their singing ability, joining another couple from Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in providing musical entertainment to area churches.

Clifton walked to Turner School in Dahlgren daily, but attended just one year of secondary education. Living during the Depression, Clifton rode the train from Dahlgren to Mt. Vernon for her first job as a housekeeper. “I got a job because people were needing money,” she said.

“I got off the train and I didn’t know which way to go. I bet I walked that square 40 times. Finally, I got up the nerve to ask someone where the street was that I was hunting for,” Clifton recalls. She later worked at Swift’s Bakery, Star Brothers Ice Cream, and several restaurants. Clifton and her late husband of nearly 50 years, Howard Clifton, operated the Gingham Kitchen restaurant in Mt. Vernon for about 30 years.

Clifton has two daughters, Armentha Jones and Myrna Rodgers, both of Mt. Vernon. She also has four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

“She’s been a good mom. It’s hard to see here. We’ve had some good times and the grandchildren all love her to death. She made the fifth generation with both my children, and with my sister’s children,” Jones said.

In reaching the century mark, Clifton said she has no regrets. However, like most people living during the Depression, her goals and aspirations changed.

“When I was a kid growing up I wanted to be a missionary or a nurse. but it’s been a good life. I’ve some real good times. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve done a lot,” she said.

Cards may be sent to Clifton in care of Countryside Manor, 606 E. Illinois Highway 15, Mt. Vernon. A simple family celebration is planned for her birthday.

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