Mother Stanton shines at 100 years old

By Sue A. Miles, Correspondent

When you walk into Mother Stanton’s quaint home on a dead-end road in Buckingham’s Stanton Town, one of the first things you see is a wood stove. Resting for the summer, it represents a long-ago era when such stoves produced delicious food while heating the home. For Mother Stanton, that era still exists, as she refuses to give it up.

Known as “Mother Stanton” to all in her community, Edith Marie Stanton can do anything she wants because she recently turned 100. She’s the boss. No argument.

Born in the Gravel Hill area in 1918, Mother Stanton lives in the same house she and her husband built in 1939. Slim and petite, her head covered in a colorful scarf, and with long elegant hands, Mother Stanton reigns with dignity and grace. And at 100, don’t assume she’s feeble and forgetful. She has her full faculties, washes and irons her clothes, goes to church every Sunday, and is loved and revered by all in her community.

One of four children born to Martha Francis Lee and John Alger Scruggs, Stanton can share many years of memories. Stanton would walk to school with her siblings and remembers, vividly, her first book – Baby Ray. Attending what was known as the Jones School until the sixth grade, Stanton began working in the fields for different farmers in the area. “I got paid 50 cents a day,” she said. “Twenty-five cents if it was a half day.”

A true beauty, Stanton married Joseph Stanton at the age of 22. “I only wanted one man,” she said. “We went to Buckingham Courthouse to get married.” After the wedding, they came to Stanton Town where she has been living ever since. The couple had three children, all at home. No hospital for this lady – she’s only been in once in her life. The only health issues that bother her are her legs and a bit of arthritis. “My legs hurt sometimes,” she said.

Longevity is not that common in Mother Stanton’s family. “My father ran a saw mill and was killed in an accident when he was young,” said Stanton. “My mother lived to be 45 and died of a ruptured appendix.” And her husband, who worked at the slate quarry, died at the kitchen table of a massive heart attack 13 years ago.

During her adult life, Mother Stanton worked hard. “We raised chickens and hogs,” she said. “We also had a milk cow and a big garden.”

What has led Mother Stanton throughout her life is her faith. When asked how she managed to live so long, she immediately responded, “The good Lord. I got my religion when I was 11 years old and I’ve been ‘shouting’ ever since. When I say I got religion, I don’t mean being religious but filled by the Holy Spirit.” A lifelong member of Baptist Union Baptist Church, Mother Stanton has attended every Sunday, sitting in the exact same place – third seat from the front. Over the many years she has become known as the hat lady for her Sunday apparel, which always includes a spectacular hat.

To this day, she has never driven a car. “I ain’t a going person,” she said. “Been like that all my life.” When running her home, Mother Stanton would venture to Dillwyn to Poole’s, Davis Store, and Fred William’s grocery store. She still has her first and only dryer bought from Poole’s. Now she’s content to be at home and let her family and neighbors bring her whatever she needs. That’s doesn’t mean she’s idle. “As long as I’m on my feet I’m going to do something,” she said. That includes fixing dinner, washing the dishes, cleaning, and staying up until 11 p.m. after reading a bit, watching Wheel of Fortune and hopefully some preaching on TV.

She’s hesitant to offer advice to young people. “If you try to tell people something they’ll say I didn’t ask you anything. I don’t want to hear it,” she said. “I try to treat everybody right. I don’t care how good you treat some people, they just don’t want to hear it. I pray for them. Ask God to help them. I don’t have anything against anybody. Thank God for that. I see a lot of people sit down and talk about each other. If I’ve got something to say about you, I’ll tell you. We be sitting around talking. I don’t want to hear about what happened the other night. If I’ve got something to say about you, I’ll tell you.”

Which brings us back to that wood stove. Seems that Mother Stanton won’t let it be removed from the house. “I love it in the winter time,” she said. She does have an electric stove but noted its limitations. “When you come in the stove’s hot, but you’re cold. Can’t say that about a wood stove.” She also loves chicken wings and salted lake herring, chocolate cake and sweet potato pie.

Along with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Mother Stanton is cared for by her son, her neighbors, and her church family. Many consider her a beacon of light and revere her. In June her church family, friends, and relatives celebrated her 100th birthday at Baptist First Baptist. People traveled from all over the country to celebrate her longevity. Hymns were sung and senators and other dignitaries sent her letters of congratulations. It was indeed a great event for a great lady.

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