The oldest living person on Earth has one wish: ‘I want to go home’ to Alabama
Susannah Mushatt Jones was born in 1899 in rural Lowndes County, Alabama, about an hour southwest of Montgomery.
The Alabama Crimson White football team was 3-1 that year, its seventh year of existence, finishing third in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association behind Sewanee and Vanderbilt and just ahead of Tennessee (some things never change). Auburn was 3-1-1 and outscored their opponents 148–11. They were coached at the time by John Heisman, for whom the Heisman Trophy would later be named.
Al Capone, Humphrey Bogart and Ernest Hemingway were each born the same year as Ms. Jones. William McKinley was President, the last American President who served in the military during the Civil War. Orville and Wilbur Wright were still four years away from embarking on their famous flight and Henry Ford was nine years away from revolutionizing transportation with his assembly line method of manufacturing.
Ms. Jones grandmother was an ex-slave who lived to be 117, according to the U.S. Census. Her parents were sharecroppers. She took an early interest in education and graduated high school in 1922. But although she was accepted into Tuskegee Institute’s teaching program, her family could not afford to pay for the tuition, so she hopped a train to New York.
She cared for the children of wealthy families throughout the years, many of whom have stayed in touch with her over the decades. And she’s always maintained a simple lifestyle: “no parties, smoking, or alcohol,” noted Business Insider. “She used her salary to send her nieces to college and to provide scholarships for other Alabama students, so they would not be prevented from attending college as she was.”
She returned to her family’s Alabama farm in the 1950s, and would have liked to live there the rest of her life, but as more of her family members migrated north, her dependency on them forced her to move as well. She now lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.
This past Wednesday, Ms. Jones’ good genes, clean living and remarkable history of avoiding the degenerative diseases that plague so many Americans as they age, propelled her to the title of World’s oldest living person.
Two weeks away from her 116th birthday, she still starts every day with a breakfast of bacon, eggs and grits, along with a glass of water and cranberry juice, a multivitamin and some blood-pressure medication. She sees the doctor just a few times each year and never complains of pain. In fact, she actually shows signs of “reverse aging.” Some of her hair has begun to change back from gray to brown and when she was in her mid-90s she grew a new tooth.
Her only vice, if you can even call it that, is lace lingerie from Bloomingdale’s.
“One time, when she had to get an EKG, the doctors and nurses were surprised to see her wearing that lingerie,” her niece told Time Magazine. “She said, ‘Oh sure, you can never get too old to wear fancy stuff.’”
So what’s her secret? She often credits her faith in God for her longevity, but says she hasn’t uncovered any mysterious fountain of youth.
“I have no secret,” she told Time. “My family makes me happy. That’s the only thing I can say. My family really makes me happy… They don’t do things to make me sad.”
And after living such a long and full life, she really only has one wish remaining.
“She wants to go back to Alabama,” her caretaker, Cecily Freser, told Business Insider. “This is her main thing, ‘I want to go home.’ Alabama to her is home.”
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— Cliff Sims (@Cliff_Sims) June 9, 2015