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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Meet Mary “D.” White, A Jackson County Wonder

102 ½ Year Old Jackson County Native Amazes All Who Know Her
By Bo McMullian
One hundred and two-year-old Mary Frances “Sangy” Dickens White has no problem at all getting around, thank you very much--she just drives her white 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier with a hundred thousand miles on it, sitting on a big foam square for a seat cushion.
She just got her drivers license renewed for another five years last week. She hasn’t seen a doctor for six months.
The Times called her Monday morning and asked for an interview. She dutifully appeared at our offices a couple of hours later after driving in from her home six miles north of Marianna, on Lovewood Road near State Road 73. She brought along her daughter, retired nurse and Los Angeles area resident Consta, who moved to California after graduating from Jackson County Training School in 1953.
“I stay busy,” Sangy explained as one of the reasons she stays healthy. “All the time!,” Consta agreed. “She never stops until it’s time to go to bed.”
“I treat everyone just like I like to be treated,” she added. “Speak to everyone and if they ever give you something,” she advised, “say ‘thank you.’”
Her only slight medical problems are unrelated to her age, hypertension and high cholesterol. She shops alone at Grocery Outlet in Marianna and cooks most of her own meals. “I eat what I want when I want,” she said, “except cabbage.” She just doesn’t like cabbage. Her favorite food is ‘dessert’. “I like pound cake and cook me one every week.” She says she is trying to cut down on the fried foods. For fun and relaxation, Mary still likes to fish and when at home, watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy on television.
Mary visits with Consta in L.A. several months out of the year and Consta stays with her mom here about three months each year. That leaves Sangy totally alone only for a few months each year, but a young relative lives next door. She returned last week from a trip to California.
Sangy never misses Sunday in church. She attends Bethlehem AME Church, just down the road from her house. She lives just a few miles from where she was born in a house with only the assistance of a midwife, on Oct. 3, 1907. Her first trip to town was made via “mule and wagon,” she said.
Her husband, Sherman, died in 1973. Sherman farmed and drove a school bus. Her parents were Leon and Maggie Dickens. She’s not sure, but she believes her grandfather Willie Dickens was a former slave.
If Sangy has one beef with anyone, it’s because the road she lives on, Lovewood, is still a dirt road. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “Why is that? After all, it was the first road in Jackson County!” She believes Lovewood, which does run east and west appropriately, was originally named the Old Spanish Trail and is part of that original road from the pioneer era. The rest of the Old Spanish Trail, most of it also remaining unpaved, still keeps the name and runs from State Road 71 southeast of Marianna all the way east to Sneads. Sangy and Consta feel that plenty of folks live along the road, enough to justify paving. “I can’t believe they ain’t did it yet,” she says.
Her memory is astonishing. She says she remembers well reading at night by lamp light in her home, before electricity made it to her neighborhood. “I remember having an outhouse, no indoor plumbing,” she said. “Sometimes, when we didn’t have lamps with globes on them, we had to use a bottle filled with kerosene. We would stick a piece of cloth in the neck and into the kerosene. Then you light it; it made a good wick.”
“I have done about anything there is to do ‘cept cut crossties,” she said about her job skills. Sangy never much worked for an employer--she just plain worked. “I’ve split wood, drove a mule plowing, did roofing, even putting studs underneath my house. I remember once a bunch of wasps getting in my mule’s nose. They were awful; I had to chase them away!”
As long as Sangy has lived, and for as much as she has seen and done, she still believes the Lord has more in store for her.
“If it weren’t for Him,” she said, “I couldn’t live. When I go to bed at night, I ask Him to help me with what I need to do tomorrow. And when I wake up, I thank Him in the morning. It’s the Lord doing this. He’s leaving me here for something. There is a reason.” Sangy will be 103 in October.

1 comment:

  1. Ms. White..I have the upmost respect and you wondering about the road and it not being paved.
    I just returned home to Dellwood to visit..Such a shame the old school house all damaged.. Of course my favorite old place I use to search and seek for old bottles was in the old Dr. Ryles home. How spooky!!
    The oak's..I lived there for 43 years of 45 years, I returned after being gone for 4 years. I took so many photos riding enjoying the back dirt roads with my niece[on the 4 wheeler] All the wonderful photo's I had taken was "damaged" on my trip home. So I lost all those memories.. the Oak's,the dirt road's.

    I rode my bike everywhere. Let's save our dirt road's.
    Hell the county Law never bother's you out in the COUNTRY!!
    Wish I had my photo's..