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Living long and happy: Ida Grimes celebrates 104 years

Williamsport woman to be honored by town

Williamsport woman to be honored by town

August 14, 2009|By NATALIE BRANDON / Special to The Herald-Mail

Ida Grimes, the oldest person living in Williamsport, has seen a lot of changes in the world.

By the time she was 23, she had witnessed hundreds of historical events that today's 23-year-old has only read about in textbooks, including World War I, women's suffrage, Prohibition and the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight by Charles Lindbergh.

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 7:30 p.m., Grimes will be driven in a convertible into the town park where the Williamsport Community Band has a special concert planned in her honor, along with some special songs and gifts for the occasion.

The event will begin at 7 p.m., with Grimes scheduled to arrive at 7:30.

In her living room, filled with stuffed teddy bears, Grimes, now 104, said she would not want to go back to her years as a young adult, even if she could.

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"I don't think so, because teenagers now are completely different from when I was one," she said.

Born on Feb. 16, 1905, Grimes was the sixth of seven children born to Samuel and Nettie Grimes. Ida Grimes still lives on the same street on which she grew up.

She was raised by her aunt, Emma Grimes, who lived right across the street in the house Grimes' grandfather built.

"She was like a mother to me," Grimes said, "When I came along, my aunt said, 'I'll take Ida!'"

Grimes didn't have a lot of free time during her high school and college years. She spent most of her time working in Jeanne's Confectionery cornerstore in Williamsport, which she helped run with her sister, Ann.

"When we were home, we were helping Jeanne with any extra time we had," Grimes said, adding, "A couple groups of boys gave us a hard time every once in a while. Boys from Hagerstown would fight the boys from Williamsport at the store. They never had anything to fight about. You know how boys are - they just like to fight."

When she did have time off from Jeanne's, Grimes enjoyed walking down the C&O Towpath.

"On Sundays, we'd like to walk the towpath, go swimming and meet people," she said, "Kids have to have fun in some way."

But when it came to boys, Grimes wanted no part in the dating scene

"Oh heavens no! We didn't have time for boyfriends," she said.

After graduating from Williamsport High School in 1923, Grimes went on to complete the two-year teaching program at Maryland State Normal School, now Towson University.

"I knew I was going to be a teacher," she said.

Grimes taught first, second and third grades at Pinesburg School near WIlliamsport and Broadway School and Surrey Elementary School in Hagerstown before retiring in 1978.

One thing Grimes has always enjoyed doing is driving.

"I drove until I was 100," she said, "People told me I'd drive at two speeds: fast and faster," she said. "I suppose I was a little fast for most people. I still don't like to poke around!"

She said that one of her first cars was a Plymouth, but she'd drive anyone's car who would let (her) have the keys.

Grimes has no secret to living a long life, because it seems to run in her family. Her mother and the aunt who raised her both lived to be 99, while another aunt lived until she was 103, and Grimes' sister was 102 when she died.

"I don't have it hard. I do what I want to do," Grimes said. "I think I've had a pretty good life."

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