Morristown woman celebrates 105th birthday

Morristown resident Helena M. Hardin said the secret to a long, happy life is in one’s genes.

And she should know – she’ll be celebrating her 105th birthday on Tuesday.

“I got good genes, I guess,” she said.

Although she can’t have a birthday party because of COVID-19 concerns, her family will come by her house to say hello, Hardin said.

Hardin has two children, four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. She also has quite a few “grand fur-babies,” or her grandchildren’s dogs.

“I’ve got a whole bunch of fur-babies,” she said, as her daughter Sara Stout named off at least 10 dogs that belong to Hardin’s family members. “They’re my K-9 friends. I don’t have any dogs of my own because it’s too busy on this corner and I’m afraid they might get hit.”

The corner her house sits on is by the intersection of Main Street and Highway 52 in Morristown. She often sits on her front porch with her family, much like Stout plans to do on her birthday.

“We can have a good family gathering,” she said. “The young kids come up and they sit around and talk their language, which I can’t understand because I’m too old.”

Hardin’s front porch is marked by pink flowers – pink is her favorite color. The day of our interview, she wore pink glasses, a white blouse with pink print, pink pants and had pink nails.)

The pink Mandevilla flowers, her favorites, hang in pots and grow up the columns on her front porch. Hardin said she loves her flowers.

“My daughter and son take care of them for me,” she said. “I just look at them and tell ‘em they’re pretty.”

Her love for flowers and animals comes from growing up on a farm in Rush County, she said. She was born in Fayette County in 1915.

She had one sister who was three years younger. They played with paper dolls – figures cut out of paper that could be dressed up with clothes also cut from thin paper. Stout said Hardin’s grandmother cut paper dolls for the girls to play with.

“Especially in the winter, we played paper dolls,” she said.

“In the summertime, we mowed the yard and took care of our garden,” she said. “We raised everything in our garden. We had strawberries – we sold strawberries!”

She attended New Salem schools for a while, then moved to Arlington schools and graduated from Arlington High School in Rush County in 1933. The school has since closed.

After she graduated, Hardin met her late husband, Harold, at the Rush County Fair when she was 23 years old.

“That doesn’t sound very romantic, does it?” she added.

They were married in 1937. Harold was a teacher and taught at Greenfield, Carthage, Arlington and Morristown. At Morristown Jr./Sr. High School, he taught history and coached baseball and basketball. He moved to the elementary school and taught there until he retired.

“I always talked to him like he was a keeper, and he was,” she said.