101-Year-Old’s Advice: ‘Don’t Smoke, Don’t Drink, But Dance All You Want … Be Yourself’

101-Year-Old’s Advice: ‘Don’t Smoke, Don’t Drink, But Dance All You Want … Be Yourself’

OCEAN PINES – Ocean Pines resident Vivian Mumford celebrated a huge milestone on Friday, when she turned 101.

Mumford was born on Aug. 4, 1922, on a farm in a town called “Friendship” that today is known as Pittsville.

She said the farm grew various crops and had one cow and a few chickens. She remembers picking strawberries.

“I loved it because I didn’t have to work on it!” she said.

Mumford went to high school in her hometown, where she was an honor student and was crowned May queen her senior year. She earned a partial scholarship to attend college, but said the family at the time couldn’t afford the rest of tuition.

“Instead, I worked at Woolworth’s dime store. That was my first job,” she said. “And then I worked at JCPenney’s and Benjamin’s. I worked all over the place.”

Mumford did everything from running the jewelry counter, to serving as a buyer for a sporting department.

Her eyes lit up when asked about meeting her late husband, Jack.

“You know, we met in Ocean City, at the Pier Club,” she said. “I was there with some friends that I worked with, and I was dancing with another fella and he cut in,” Mumford said. “I found out later he worked in the dime store across from Woolworth’s called McCrory’s.”

Jack was drafted into the Army during World War II. After basic training he returned home, and the couple were married.

Around 1942, he was discharged and went to work for the electric company, then called Eastern Shore Public Service. Today, it’s Delmarva Power.

“He was a linesman when he first started, and he climbed poles,” Mumford said. “He put those spikes on his legs and climbed up those poles – they don’t do that now! They have a truck with a bucket.”

The couple had four children: Susan, Jay, Cynthia and Mike. She said Mike is the youngest and was born on her 46th birthday. Susan is the oldest.

“I have four children and four grandchildren – and I might have four great grandchildren,” Mumford said, pausing to count them off by name.

The family lived on Truitt Street in Salisbury for 38 years, and later nearby on Beaglin Park Drive.

Jack suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and passed away at Deer’s Head Hospital in Salisbury in 2006.

Mumford, on doctor’s orders not to drive any more, moved into the Gull Creek senior care facility in Berlin about eight years ago, at age 93.

Her daughter, Susan Blanton, often “ran back and forth” from Ocean Pines to help care for her.

“I lived there for four-and-half years, and then Susan said would it just be easier if you came and lived with me?” Mumford said.

That was four years ago in 2019, when Mumford moved in with Blanton on Ivanhoe Court in Ocean Pines.

Blanton said it was good timing, with the pandemic coming a year later and cutting off access to senior centers.

She said her mom was strict growing up.

“You didn’t mess with mother,” she said.

“But I always stuck up for you!” Mumford added. “She was seven months old before [her father] ever saw her,” because of his service.

Mumford said her children helped out with small chores, like doing dishes and clearing the table.

“She didn’t make us do too much around the house, because we couldn’t do it to suit her,” Blanton said with a laugh. “But everyone always thought my mother was the nicest and the prettiest.”

Now, Blanton is the caretaker for her mother – when she’ll let her be.

“She can still take care of herself. She does her own laundry and makes the bed. She does let me cook, because she can’t really remember recipes,” Blanton said.

“She doesn’t want me to turn the stove on, that’s what it is!” Mumford added. “But she does the cooking and I eat it – whatever it is.”

Mumford said she enjoys being in Ocean Pines with her daughter.

“I’ve got my own bedroom, and there’s a sitting room and I read a lot,” she said. “I’ve read the same books over and over again.”

They also take frequent trips to the local library.

“I like books that were written back in the time when there were dukes and princes and things like that, like ‘Gone with the Wind.’ And I’ve read a lot of Nicholas Sparks books,” Mumford said.

One Sparks series that she’s read many times frustrates her to no end.

“He wrote these two books [in a series] and this guy was so much in love with this girl, and then she died. If you want to read a book about how somebody mourned, that will really hurt you,” Mumford said. “I said I’d never read another one of his books. He killed that girl. But anyway, I have read many more of them.”

The most recent, she said, was “The Last Song.”

She’s also read “With Every Breath I Take” by Celia Martin at least three times.

“Every time, you find something different,” she said.

Mumford celebrated her birthday on Friday at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club with family and friends.

She said the milestone “just means I’m getting older.”

Asked for words of wisdom on living to 101, Mumford said, “don’t smoke, don’t drink, but dance all you want.”

“Just be yourself,” she said. “And be honest.”