‘Ms. Bert’ Jenkins celebrates her 100th birthday in Southside

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By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Bertie Jenkins says she’s seen some hard times.

“But I’m still very much alive,” she said, after celebrating her 100th birthday on May 27.

Ms. Bert, as she is known lives at Bolton House, a private residence in Southside that provides assisted living for seniors, was honored on her birthday by the staff and residents there.

Ms. Bert grew up in St. Clair County. She lived on a farm, as so many people did in that era.

“I’ve done it all,” Ms. Bert said, including plowing with a mule, spending all day in the field picking cotton and working in the garden.

“I’ll tell everybody that hard work won’t hurt you,” she said. “I’ve tried it.”

And she stands by hard work still. “They do a lot of laundry here. I fold the towels and washcloths.

“We use a lot of Irish potatoes and I peel them,” Ms. Bert said.

“I’m not lazy,” she said. “Never was.”

Ms. Bert has needed a wheelchair since she broke her hip in a fall three and a half years ago and it might have slowed her down a bit, it hasn’t stopped her. She’s an active resident at the house, and she maintains her own private phone line to keep in touch with people.

“I never dreamed about living as long as I have,” Ms. Bert said. “I really did see some hard times. I won’t ever forget that.”

There were times, she said, when food was scarce, and most people had to grow their own.

During World War II, she recalled that there was not enough sugar or flour.

Living then, she said, was “rough as a cob,” and a far cry from what people experience today.

“If young people today had to do like I had to do, they’d commit suicide, I guess,” Ms. Bert said.

Life now is good, Ms. Bert said. 

Other that the broken hip, she’s enjoyed good health, and she said she couldn’t ask for better care than she receives at Bolton House.

Ms. Bert has two daughters, Helen and Ruby, five grandchildren and many great grandchildren, whose photos decorate her room at Bolton House.

She said she doesn’t know any secrets that have given her longevity.

“I reckon I just live through,” Ms. Bert said.

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