MY WORD: How I made it to 102

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By Edna Mae Black Devers

Hard work won't kill you, for I did my share of that. Born on July 24, 1911. as the only girl in the family of Thomas D. and Minnie K Lewis, I had three older brothers to put up with. This meant I had to clean up after them, help cook their meals and wash their dishes.

I learned to cook while so young I had to stand on a box to reach the top of the stove. Since my father was a farmer here in Shelby County, there were always field hands to look after as well. I was only 8 years old when my mother became ill, and that lasted several years, thereby leaving all the housework to a young child, but I survived and learned that lard won't kill you.

A lot of folks will tell you lard is bad for you, but learning to cook meant I learned to fry chicken in lard, and about everything else I fried was in lard. I did this well into my 90s, and this was partly because everyone loved my chicken fried in lard and begged me to keep on cooking.

I also used pure cream skimmed from the milk as well as pure butter. Some say that it was only because I worked hard that lard, cream and butter didn't kill me.

You see, I married a farmer and would on occasion work in the fields if I was needed. Now I was barely 5 feet tall, but I had a 10-foot determination. And a strong belief in the Lord.

I joined the Buffalo Lick Baptist when I was 14 years old, and that strong belief in God pulled me through the tough times. I taught a Sunday school class for about 40 years and fed more preachers from the Southern Baptist Seminary than you could count because they heard about my fried chicken.

They came to Buffalo Lick every chance they could because preachers love fried chicken.

Now perhaps some of them didn't work as hard as me, for a couple of them died early in life, or maybe their faith wasn't all that strong. Anyway I don't think it was the lard, cream or butter that killed them.

Now if you want to make it to 102, you might just try that chicken cooked in lard along with that rich cream and pure butter. Oh, I almost forgot, don't forget the hard work and to pray hard.

Now it has been a good run given to but a few, and I think a 102 will do.


Edna Mae Black Devers lives in Shelbyville. She is 102 years old today.