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Recalling a century of change
Local Clyde Cannon celebrated her 100th birthday Thursday
flowers from neighbor
Ms. Cannon has received several congratulatory birthday wishes and even a few bouquets of roses from various neighbors. Cannon said she had to shed a few tears over the gesture.

Clyde cannon

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    During her 40s, Cannon saw the first nuclear weapon built and tested and watched Bing Crosby, Clark Gable and Bob Hope on TV. As she turned 50, Cannon watched as Elvis swiveled his hips and doctors attempted the first organ transplants.
    In her 60s, she likely marveled as a man walked on the Moon, and who could imagine her views of Woodstock, hippies, Viet Nam and the Sexual Revolution?
    In the 1970s, Cannon turned 70. It was an era that saw a surge in divorces, the popularity of face lifts, more women in the work force, gay rights and music by bands such as KISS, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Eagles.
    The 80s — the decade as well as Cannon’s age — brought about things that were likely confusing to her; or, electronic video games, computers, the Iran/Iraq war, AIDS, and the weird antics of Michael Jackson and Madonna.
    As Cannon turned 90, the world around her spun with the age, the Internet, cell phones and cloning sheep.
    Thursday, Cannon turned 100. What does she think about the war on terror, ipods, digital cameras and pierced navels?
    Ask her, and she is vague in her response. But ask her about milking cows, picking vegetables from a garden, or the simple but rich life she led in between 1906 and 2006, and she smiles.
    And with everything Clyde Cannon has seen in her 100 years, including Rubiks cubes, reality TV, several wars, and the Prohibition effort, she said the most amazing thing she has ever seen is “today.”
    Cannon was recently feted at the Middleground Homemakers Club, of which she is a charter member. The club recently celebrated its 70th year, and Cannon has been an active member of the organization for each of those years, said fellow charter member Eleanor Akins.
    “We’ve had such a good time,” she said.
    Cannon agreed.
    Club members showered her with gifts, which she accepted with humility, and enjoyed a pot-luck meal as they reminisced.
    Cannon recalled how cooking is different now from when she was younger. “We cooked on a wood stove,” she said, adding that meals were mostly made from home-grown produce. “Before I married, Papa had a garden year round. Some of the best things I ever tasted came out of that garden.”
    Milk and butter didn’t come from any grocery store. They milked the cows and made the butter.
    Picking produce was a daily thing. “We’d go down there with two buckets,” she said. “One on each arm, and we had it full of whatever was growing.”
    There was a lot of work, but there were plenty of kids to help do the work, since Cannon had seven brothers and two sisters.
    “I really have had a happy life,” she said as she shared birthday cake with her friends. “I worked hard, but I enjoyed it.”
    One of her gifts was a homemade pound cake, but the bearer said she doubted it was as good as Ms. Clyde’s. Cannon has long been known for her pecan pies and pound cakes, Akins said.
    Other gifts included a hand-embroidered handkerchief that doubled as a birthday card keepsake, commemorating her 100th birthday. And Libba Smith penned a poem, which the club had framed.
    Cannon seemed overwhelmed.
    “I love everybody,” she said, voice clear and eyes sparkling. “I don’t know the first soul I wouldn’t do anything in the world for them.”
    Everyone seems to love Cannon as much as she loves them.
    “I’ve never heard Ms. Clyde say anything bad about anybody, have you? Myrtis Akins asked the group. No one had.
    Cannon amazes everyone with her spry spirit and determination. Laughter rang out when someone shared a story about an offer to help Cannon get dressed and ready for the party. She was rumored to have said “When I can’t dress myself I’ll just stay home. I was dressed and waiting for them when they got here.”
    She even does her own shopping, even if someone has to drive her to the store.
    “I saw her in Harvey’s pushing a grocery cart a few weeks ago,” said Mary Ellen Deal.
    Cannon still enjoys her life, she said.
    “I used to have a lot of flowers, and I still do much of my cooking and housekeeping,” she said.
    Her advice to young folk? “Just do the best you can,” she said. “Hard work never hurt anybody. Do the best you can. That’s all I ever done — did the best I could.”
    She raised two children, Myrtis Helen Murphy, 80, and Richard Lewis Cannon, 62. She has four grandchildren living and one deceased, and has two great-grandchildren.
    As the birthday celebration drew to a close, a friend pulled a card from Cannon’s purse as she helped her search for something. The card was from President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, congratulating Cannon on her 100th birthday.
    Before everyone left, Cannon encouraged the others to continue meeting.
    “Y’all keep the club a-going,” she said. “Even if y’all don’t do much, just enjoy it. That’s all that matters.”

    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.
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