November 30, 2021

Doris Adams turns 100

Family gathers at Hollywood to celebrate her life

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Doris Adams, left, and granddaughter Laurie Frazier, of New Hampshire, visit at a gathering for Doris’ 100th birthday party Friday at the Hollywood Restaurant in Cortland. Relatives came from Houston, Colorado and Florida to celebrate.

Doris Brown Adams’ 100th birthday was like any other day.

“It’s no different,” she said.

But her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren made it special.

Jan Karlson, her daughter, came from Ohio, for a party Friday — Adams’ birthday — in a banquet room at the Hollywood Restaurant.

The Groton Nursing Home resident got to see her family in person, thanks to easing of COVID-19 restrictions and more people being vaccinated. Karlson got approval to take her mom to the party near the end of April.

Relatives came from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, New Hampshire and Texas.

Adams was a farm wife with her husband, Howard, and the two raised six children on the family farm in the Peruville area. She was a homemaker who loved to cook, sew, craft, play cards and play Bingo. She also did a stint in the Groton school district’s cafeteria.

She said her secret for longevity was: “hard work, probably, with the kids. And I keep busy all the time.”

“This is her dandelion wine,” said Terry McCormick, granddaughter from Huntsville, Ala. “That’s her secret. She was always harvesting dandelions on her property. She always made dandelion wine every year. And her watermelon pickles! From the rind! They were the best thing you will have in your life.”

Adams didn’t have any special thoughts on her favorite president or living through the pandemic.

“That’s only one year out of 100,” McCormick said.

She seen big changes: the switch from kerosene lights to electricity; and indoor bathrooms.

“We grew up on the family property,” McCormick said. “She has 18 grandchildren. We had family Christmases at her house.”

Every year.

Luanne Francis of Lake Walley, S.C., the oldest granddaughter, said when she was born, hospital officials would not let Adams come to see her. “They thought she was too young.”

“She always took us down to the cornfield to pick corn. My brother Kent said, ‘I have a mouse coming up my leg! There’s something in my pants,’” Francis related. “There’s nothing in those pants,” Adams said.

She opened them up and a mouse jumped out.

“I always helped her with the milking,” said Francis. Her grandparents had at least 40 cows. Afterward, her grandmother let her have milk coffee with Danish.

When Adams’ husband died in 1995, the grandchildren had to teach Adams how to gas the car.

She loved her newfound freedom.

“Oh my God, I am having so much fun. I want to live another five years.” Francis said her grandmother told her.

She’s lived another 26. And counting.

“The last birthday party we had was her 80th,” Frazier said. “She didn’t want to participate. She didn’t show up.”

When she worked the cafeteria, McCormick said there were 10 grandchildren who went to that school. When they came through the lunch line, they each got an ice cream, McCormick said. “They had a program, you could work to pay for lunches. I used to do that. I worked with her. I used to wash dishes.”

Karlson said she hasn’t seen her mom face to face in 15 months.

“She was on her own until December 2019,” Karlson said.

Shelly Barhite of Homer is one of the closest grandchildren to Adams.

“I am able to see her every week, however they allow me to do it,” she said.

Adams really appreciated the gathering.

“Seems good,” she said.

Karlson said the family did Zoom meetings, phone calls and outside the window visits during COVID-19. She has a son in the nursing home, too. And the staff love her. “She is a bright light at the nursing home,” staff tell Carlson.

“She is a happy-go-lucky person. I never heard her say anything bad about any person,” Karlson said. “She never complains.”