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TUTTLE -- Opal Jeffries may be 101, but you’d never know it.

Despite the rheumatism that tries to slow her down, Jeffries refuses to stop.

“I don’t walk so straight, but I can still walk,” says Jeffries. “If I don’t keep moving, I won’t be able to move. It seems like I keep busy, but I can’t see what I do, half the time I’m hunting for something.”

Not one to depend on others to do her chores, Jeffries only gave up mowing her two acres east of Tuttle two years ago. Now, her son-in-law has taken over the job.

“I can’t use a hammer because I need my right hand, but I can use an axe and a hoe with my left hand to chop bushes or dig up roots,” she says. “You’ve got to keep your place up or it’ll fall apart.”

Jeffries injured her right arm by stretching too far while standing on a ladder cleaning out her gutters - when she was 90.

“I knew I hurt my arm, but I didn’t know I had broken my shoulder until I tried to bowl. Then it broke like a stick,” she said. “I haven’t bowled since I was 90.”

Because of the nature of the break, a complete shoulder replacement is usually recommended. But because of her age, Jeffries’ doctor refused to put her through such an ordeal, letting the arm heal naturally.

Scolded by a family member who advised her not to let him catch her cleaning out her gutters again, Jeffries said, “He won’t catch me, I know when he’s at work.”

Jeffries took up bowling after her husband Roy passed away in 1974, amassing a collection of pins for her wins rather than trophies because her bowling team decided pins were cheaper than trophies and “you have to dust trophies all the time.”

On Sunday, Dec. 13, Jeffries celebrated her 101st birthday with nearly two dozen family members.

“It was the longest table you ever saw and the prettiest cake you ever saw,” Jeffries said. “I think every waitress in that cafe sang Happy Birthday to me; they were all lined up.”

Philosophical about turning 101, Jeffries says, “These years pass so fast, I get lost in them. And I’m getting a lot shorter than I ever was. I think I’ve lost three inches. I have to hem up my pants every year.”

The family will also gather at Jeffries home for Christmas dinner.

“My sister-in-law is bringing the turkey, so I don’t have to go down in the basement to get my cooker,” Jeffries said.

But Jeffries is not off the hook. She still plans to prepare a number of dishes, including a fruit salad, scalloped corn (although she was a little irked at the price of $1.47 per can of corn), sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pecan cake, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and chocolate pie.

“My daughter will bring the Mystery Pie. They’re really good and everybody thinks they should have Mystery Pie,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries recalls a Christmas past when she received a doll “as big as a baby.”

“I thought that was the grandest thing,” she said. “As we got older, we’d get clothes or a new pair of shoes. We were real proud of those because we didn’t have many clothes. And we always had a program at school with a Christmas tree. We got stuff off the Christmas tree from Santa Claus.”

Born in Vineyard, Texas on Dec. 13, 1908 to W. G. and Bessie Mae Felkner, Jeffries is one of three girls and two boys born to the couple.

“Papa had a hardware store, then we bought some land and then we were farmers,” Jeffries said. “We lived close to the depot and Mama would get on the train at 7 a.m. to go to town and would get back at 7 p.m. If we went very far, we always took the train. I remember once when I put my daughter and her cousin on the train to Chickasha when they were in about the third grade and then we drove to Chickasha to pick them up,” Jeffries said.

The family sold the farm in Texas in 1922 and moved to Cimarron County in the Oklahoma panhandle where they raised wheat.

“We always had chores and when I was six and had just started school, Papa said I had to learn how to milk,” Jeffries said. “I thought I’d never learn, I couldn’t get any milk, but I learned pretty quick.”

Growing up in the panhandle, there was little in the way of entertainment.

“There was no TV and no radio, so the kids got together and had swing parties. We had a lot of fun,” Jeffries said.

Because Jeffries’ house had pocket doors that slid into the walls, two separate rooms became one large space when the doors were opened all the way.

“The kids all liked to come to our house because it had the most room for dancing,” Jeffries said. “One night my brother and I were coming home from a party when there was no moon and we couldn’t see the way. So we decided to let the horses find the way home and they took us right up to our gate.”

Riding horses since before her family left Texas, Jeffries recalls once having a horse that would “jump right into a pickup and we didn’t even need ramps.”

Describing her childhood as being “happy as a lark,” Jeffries said nothing bothered her as a child. That is, until she suffered a bout of appendicitis and had to have her appendix removed.

“I just got an awful hurting in my side and I had to go to the hospital to get my appendix out,” she said. “We rode the train home from the hospital in Dalhart, Texas and Papa met us at the train and took us the 20 miles home in the wagon. The only time it hurt was when the train stopped, it jerked you.”

Jeffries said she knew her husband Roy for quite a while before they got together.

“He played baseball with my brother and one night after a ball game, he came running over to ask if he could take me home. I said I’d have to ask my mother. So I rode with him and my parents followed behind us,” Jeffries said.

Roy and Opal came to Tuttle from Chickasha in 1928 and purchased a “frontier house” in 1935.

“That was the coldest place. We nailed pasteboard to the walls and then papered over it,” Jeffries said.

In 1939, they built the house where Jeffries still lives today. They raised three children, and operated a dairy farm together until Roy’s death in 1974.

“Roy was a beautiful dancer. I loved to dance with him,” Jeffries recalls. “When music came on the radio, here he’d come and get me and we’d dance clear up until he passed away.”

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