Mabel Leggitt certainly qualifies as one of Ramona’s most senior citizens after celebrating her 100th birthday here last Saturday.
There were 60 family members and friends gathered at her 1540 Griffith Road home as she cut her cake and happily handed it around.
“The party went real good,“ said Mabel, who recommends, “Leave cigarettes alone — that’s first and most important. Go easy on the liquor, live a simple life and stay away from rich foods.”
“We got a big shock one day when she (Mabel) got off a plane with her arms filled with champagne bottles and we wondered whatever had happened,” said daughter-in-law Roberta Leggitt. “Apparently the crew had the passengers on board playing games and the winner got the champagne. (Do you remember those days?) Of course she never touched a drop of it.”
Still extremely active in and around her garden and home, Mabel amazes long-time neighbor Carolyn Souza, who said, “I see her constantly in the garden, working in her flower and vegetable beds. Then you see her pounding a fence together with a hammer and nails. I look at her and see a 70-year-old woman, not a centenarian. “
“If she could do it all over again, I think she would like to be a carpenter,” said Roberta. “She just loves fixing things and putting things together.”
Mabel was born in Athens, Texas, after the end of the Spanish-American War, but malaria was raging across the state.
“They said there were no medications for the civilian population and it would be better if we left the state,” recalled Mabel, who was 1 year old at the time.
The family moved to Colorado, where her father panned for gold for a while, “but never hit anything big,” said Mabel.
By the time she was 4 years old, the family was moving again, this time to Missouri, “because my dad wanted us raised in the Ozarks,” Mabel said. “That’s where I went to school, met my husband, and got married.”
The young couple moved to Kansas for a while. Her parents had moved to California where Mabel’s father worked in the aircraft industry during World War I.
“Most of our family and friends were back in Texas, so we decided to join my parents in California,“ said Mabel.
They moved to Santa Monica, where her husband, Warren, went into the auto parts business in which he spent 30 years. Warren died at age 86 in 1993.
“We came to Ramona because Warren was looking for a good place to raise a family and somewhere I would love to live,” said Mabel. “Ramona filled both desires. Ramona is a wonderful place.”
On the death of her oldest son in 1999, Mabel moved to live with her daughter, Joyce, in Blanchard, Okla., but she “was yearning for Ramona, which is her favorite place and the place she calls home,” said Roberta.
So she came back in October 2009 and the family is working out how they can make it possible for Mabel to stay in the Ramona she calls home.
“It’s a little difficult with Joyce living in Oklahoma and my husband and I living in Arbuckle, Calif., just 65 miles north of Sacramento,” said Roberta. “But if it can be done, we will do it.”
Mabel was the center of attention at another party for her on Friday, May 7, in the Ramona Senior Center, which set aside a table for her to sit with family and friends.