Turning 100 has sweet taste for this centenarian BY ENELLY BETANCOURT, Staff Writer
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what do sweets do to your body?
"They keep you living longer," Mildred Carpenter says.
Take it from someone who has lived for a very long time.
"I really don't know what is keeping me around," Carpenter says. "I know the good Lord has something to do with it because I don't even eat my vegetables, not even string beans … not if I can help it, but I like sweets," Carpenter explains.
Carpenter reached the milestone age of 100 on Wednesday. A birthday celebration was held among friends and residents at Mennonite Home, where she has lived for eight years.
Another celebration honoring her century of life is planned for Saturday with more than 30 of Carpenter's nieces and nephews.
"It will be nice to have all those people coming," she says.
On Wednesday, Carpenter enjoyed a chocolate birthday cake with caramel topping -- a favorite of this centenarian -- and was given a special surprise.
Rich Eby, director of curriculum and instruction at Pequea Valley School District, presented Carpenter with an honorary high school diploma.
Carpenter, who had finished only one year at the high school, was elated -- and a bit embarrassed.
"I didn't stay in school," Carpenter says. "I just couldn't keep my mind on what I was reading, so I left and never graduated."
Wearing a red cap and gown, she sat at a table and stared at her diploma.
"This is a lot of fun, but I didn't expect anything like this," Carpenter says.
Growing up, she had always wanted a dollhouse.
"But that old Santa never got me one," Carpenter says.
On Wednesday, she finally got one.
"I'm happy ... why shouldn't I be? It's all complete now," she said, smiling.
Witty and funny in conversation, Carpenter spoke about "her normal and uneventful life."
She was born in Paradise Township on Feb. 6, 1913, the youngest of 12 children of Phillip and Mary Shearer. Her father died when she was 7. "My siblings had to keep things going. They had to go to work to help the family," Carpenter recalled.
After she left high school, Carpenter went to work as a seamstress at the former Hershey Garment Factory for more than two decades.
At the age of 18, she married John Carpenter, who would be her husband of 45 years. He died in 1976, and the couple had no children.
"John was serving in the U.S. Army, and he traveled all the time," Carpenter noted.
Although she certainly saw hard times in her life and lived through the Great Depression, Carpenter said the "war years" were probably the hardest.
"I lived through the war by myself because my husband was away," she says.
Her advice to those who wish to live a long, healthy life? "Don't smoke. Eat what's right ... and a lot of sweets."
Carpenter said she doesn't care much for food but couldn't do without chocolate.
"And my doctor told me to go ahead with the chocolate chip cookies," she was quick to point out. Carpenter enjoys eating the cookies every morning for breakfast.
"It's what keeps me going. I like to dunk them in milk and coffee," she explains.
This centenarian keeps herself busy playing bingo and cards. She was an active member of Leacock Presbyterian Church.
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