They’re single, they never raised children, and one of them consumes three raw eggs a day (and has since her teens), while the other thrives on positive energy and love.
Meet two women on two entirely different continents, the only two alive on the globe who were born in the 19th century — 1899, to be exact.
These women have lived through economic prosperity as well as desperation, wars and terrorism, the civil rights movement and the Gilded Age. At their advanced stage in life, they have each also said goodbye to many they love. They’ve been feted by their communities and friends for their longevity, and as the fragile matriarchs of their family they are doted on by care workers and relatives.
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Both have outlooks that are simple and to the point, and shared in few words.
Susannah Mushatt Jones, born July 6, 1899 — 116 years young
It was a busy year in America when Mushatt Jones was born. In February, the Southeast was hit by the Great Blizzard of ’99. And that’s the year Congress approved the use of voting machines in U.S. elections.
In New York, the Bronx Zoo opened, and the Harriman Alaska Expedition concluded successfully with the discovery of gold. The Newsboys Strike took place in New York, and Queens and Staten Island also merged with New York City.
Jones is currently the oldest living person in the world, and although never married, “she adored kids,” her niece Lois Judge, told the Daily Record. Jones is known as “T,” for auntie, to her 100 nieces and nephews.
Born in a farm town near Montgomery, Alabama, and one of 11 siblings, her father was a sharecropper who picked cotton to support the family. After attending a special school for young black girls, she also became a cotton picker after her high school graduation.
One of her secrets to longevity? “Sleep!” she told Guinness Book of World Records.
Then, she headed up to New Jersey at age 23 to work with kids. She found a job as a live-in nanny and housekeeper. During her life she established a fund for young African-American women to go to college, and was active in her neighborhood, receiving a tribute for her regular participation in community tenant patrols — at age 106.
Today, she is blind and also hard of hearing, but takes only two pills, a blood pressure pill and a vitamin, each day.
Her secret to longevity? “Sleep!” she told Guinness Book of World Records, which honored her achievement as the world’s oldest living person at age 115 years and 346 days, with a certificate and a small ceremony in June.
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Her other tips for a long life? “I never drink or smoke,” she told the Housing Authority, according to Guinness World Records. “I surround myself with love and positive energy. That’s the key to long life and happiness.”
In 2014, Susannah’s niece, Dr. Lavilla Mushatt Watson, published a biography about her beloved aunt’s life entitled “Susannah — Our Incredible 114-Year-Old Aunt.”
A frail Jones whispered to her niece, “I’m happy to have my nieces and nephews” in a video featuring her. The feeling is mutual. Her niece calls her beloved aunt “the family’s heart, bringing together past and present.”
Emma Morano, born November 29, 1899 – 115 years young
Morano resides in Italy, where she was born. A lot was happening in her home country in 1899. Prime Minister Luigi Pelloux resigned over his Chinese policy, and Fiat was established by a group of investors in Turin, going on to become the major car making industry of Italy.
The A.C. Milan soccer club was formed, and a coercion bill was introduced and adopted by Parliament that revived banishment penalties, and gave the executive wider power to ban public meetings and dissolve subversive groups. Preventive arrest became law, and control of the press was tightened. The times in Italy were changing.
Morano was born in a little town called Civiasco, but as a child moved with her family to an iron and steel company town called Villadossola.
“My sisters and I loved to dance, and we’d run away to the dance hall, and then our mother would come looking for us with a birch stick,” she told the New York Times. The Villadossola climate did not agree with her, however, and when she grew up, she took a doctor’s advice and moved to Lake Maggiore, on the border of Switzerland. She got a job in a factory, making jute sacks.
“If all my patients were like this, I could have spent my days reading newspapers.”
She was married briefly and unhappily. It ended in 1938 after the death of their baby son. She never had any other children, nor did she remarry, though not for lack of suitors. She is sure that her single status has contributed to her longevity.
“I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she told the Times.
She still lives alone in a two-bedroom apartment, and her niece comes by daily to prepare her meals. She is surrounded by plaques and certificates honoring her status as Italy’s oldest citizen (she’s Europe’s oldest citizen, too). A neighbor checks in on her frequently and hopes she won’t need any medical attention any time soon. She refuses to go to a hospital — ever. She has even had blood transfusions and stitches done at home, according to the Times.
What has kept her going, physically? Raw eggs – she swears by them. She has consumed three raw eggs each day since her teens, as a treatment for anemia.
“She’s aware of the privilege of living,” Dr. Carlo Bava, her primary care doctor, told the Times of Morano. “If all my patients were like this, I could have spent my days reading newspapers.”