Emma Estes is 104 years young today.
She currently lives at Martin Crest Assisted Living. Today, Martin Crest will throw Estes a party at 6 p.m. that could include a special guest and presentation, according to her son, Chuck Estes.
He said while his mother is becoming more physically challenged, “Her mind and spirits are still in really good shape. She is very hard of hearing and now needs the help of a walker when she walks by herself.”
Estes provided the following information about his mother:
Emma Estes was born Nov. 21, 1909, in Plainview to Jesse and Cora Goodson, a time when the average life expectancy was 47. She grew up in Wellington with a family of five sisters and two brothers.
They didn’t have much – a small, three-bedroom, single bathroom home that her father built in the 1920s. She grew up sleeping five sisters to a bed, three at the head and two at the foot. They each had a single dresser drawer and there was only one closet for all of the children.
Her mother and father were very loving and caring. They ate almost every meal together, laughed, and loved and it was perhaps the most joyous time of her life. It was a home she so loved so much that when time came to give birth to each of her children she would return to be with her parents.
She got what was probably the only whipping of her life after they killed a chicken snake while gathering eggs. Teasing one of her sisters she picked up the dead snake up with a stick and chased after her before flipping it towards her to scare her. It ended up wrapped around her sister’s neck. The result was a sore bottom, hurt feelings and history.
She graduated from high school in 1929 and went to work at a grocery store on the town square for a dollar a day. She ran away to marry her husband, George Estes, on Sept. 10, 1929, only days before Black Friday and the start of The Great Depression. Her husband was the polar opposite – a child of a dysfunctional family and a limited formal education. He had gone to work full time as a ranch hand when he was just 12. He was hot tempered and had quick fists. She can’t remember how many fights he had when they were first married, but he was smart enough to know what he had and when she laid down the law he quickly fell in line. They were married for more than 50 years. She spent her honeymoon in West Texas near Fort Stockton, camped behind a sign on the side of the road on the way to a construction job.
She raised four children – two boys and two girls. Her husband worked construction for Brown & Root Construction for most of his life and she followed along, living in California, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Illinois and half of Texas.
When her husband retired in 1970 they moved to Mansfield and built a home. When her husband died in 1981 she continued to work until she was 95. She drove until she was 99 and lived alone until just before her 103rd birthday. She had the misfortune of watching three of her children die of cancer and she struggled with their deaths. A strong heart and a strong Baptist faith keep her going. She grew up a Methodist, but was baptized as a Baptist in the White River in northern Arkansas in the 1940s.
She bought her first car when she was 92. When she applied for credit to buy the car she was denied credit because she had no credit rating – so she paid cash. She has never had a credit card and has no credit history. For most of her life she simply carried the family money in her purse.
She worked as a seamstress for most of her life, doing alterations both on her job and at home for friends, neighbors and many officers on the Mansfield Police Department.
She has traveled all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt and Israel and has taken cruises to Hawaii and Alaska.
She is about the world’s best cook, especially when it comes to peach cobbler, sour cream cakes and Thanksgiving dressing. At age 103 she still made the peach cobblers and turkey dressing for family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
She has seen joy and the worst tragedy, the death of her husband and three of her children, but don’t cry for her. She has been given the gift of a very loving family, an incredibly strong belief in God, and the willingness to work long and hard. One of the things she said this week when I picked her up and brought her to my house for supper was, “What do I need to do to help with supper?”