ONEONTA — Surrounded by family and friends, Robynwood Assisted Living Community resident Lillian Musson celebrated her 102nd birthday at the center Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Dressed in an elegant red and white outfit, Musson sat contentedly while her guests, including daughters Elinor Sorensen and Lucy Richards, granddaughter Jennifer Sorensen and great-grandson Brandon Richards, milled around and conversed.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Musson said with a smile.
Musson was born in Margaretville and graduated from Stamford High School. In February 1938, she married her husband, Albert. She said she recalls helping her husband with milk testing on their farm in New Kingston, taking chemical samples of milk to determine which cows were producing the proper butter fat.
She also worked at Bendix in shipping for 16 years, typing for eight hours a day on an old-fashioned typewriter, she said. After retirement, the two opened a grocery store in Gilbertsville where Musson said she did a little of everything, including putting away groceries and working the cash register.
The center’s oldest resident, Musson can recount historical events many others may have only read about in history books. During a senior trip to Washington, she watched then-president Franklin Roosevelt lay a wreathe at Mount Vernon. Musson said she was close enough to Roosevelt’s open motorcar to see the cigarette in his holder.
She said she remembers where she was when Pearl Harbor was attacked — at her in-laws’ house with her then 3-year-old daughter Elinor. Musson said she remembers fearing for her brother-in-law who was stationed at Pearl Harbor, but feeling relieved when she found out he wasn’t on base that day.
Her grandsons Victor Sorensen, Ben Richards and Matt Richards said they’ve always been impressed by the longevity of Musson’s memory and ability to talk about many topics. Matt, who came to the party from Texas, said his daughters were talking about rodeos when Musson mentioned how she’d attended a rodeo in Madison Square Garden once.
“She’s fun to talk to,” Matt said.
Musson is a member of the Gilbertsville Baptist Church and belongs to a garden club, she said. Her floral expertise helps add a touch of brightness to the center; sometimes the center receives funeral flowers, which Musson said she takes apart to craft floral arrangements that are placed on tables or the main lobby.
Marjorie DeFazio is a Robynwood resident who came to celebrate Musson.
“My plan is to live to be that age,” DeFazio said, “if I can look that good.”
Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.