Going Strong at 103

| December 8, 2011

Eula Mae Boston.What does it feel like to be 103 years old? Ask Eula Mae Boston; she’ll tell you.

“I don’t even feel 50. Yes, the hearing is going (and) I have to get a little closer, but I can do what I did at 50,” said Boston, who celebrated her birthday on Nov. 29.

Born in 1908, Boston’s recollections about the past are multitudinous.

Her father, John T. Sanders, helped build the Panama Canal and the family — including Boston, her mother, Nannnie Sanders, two brothers and a sister — lived in Panama until Boston was about 13.

She remembers when she used to have to use a washboard to do the laundry, drug stores sold nothing but medicine, the ice man brought ice to her home every couple days, milk came in glass bottles, the cream thick around the top and a visit to the doctor cost a dollar.

Boston still recalls being driven to school in a horse and buggy, the lack of zippers on women’s skirts and men’s pants and having to use coal and oil lamps.

Eula Mae Boston.When she was growing up, people carried pocket watches, since there was no such thing as wristwatches, nor were there greeting cards, facial tissues, supermarkets, beauty parlors or paper towels.

Circa 1935 — almost a decade after marrying her husband, David Malcolm Boston, Eula Boston began making scrapbooks, “the old-fashioned kind.”

Today she has more than one hundred, each one reading like a mini time capsule of what was occurring in the world.

The books are filled with newspaper and magazine clippings on myriad topics: from automobiles to animals to presidents to food.

“I don’t know what gave me the idea, I just did it. I like to stay busy,” laughed Boston. “I’ve been keeping them since she was a baby,” she added, gesturing to her 82-year-old daughter, Barbara Sapp, with whom she now lives in a two-story home in the East End.

The scrapbooks are stored on the second floor, a climb Boston easily makes on her own, though Sapp does trail behind her mother “just in case,” she said.

One scrapbook contains cut-out photographs of Clark Gable — “I love him because he favored my husband,” Boston explained — another is filled with newspaper and magazine clippings of cars, from the very first 1886 Benz Motorwagon, the first Model T and the original Ford V8.

Eula Mae Boston (103) with her daughter Barbara Sapp (82).

Eula Mae Boston (103) with her daughter Barbara Sapp (82).

“The books are full of priceless information,” said Sapp. A large number also contain photographs Boston and her husband — who died in 1990 after 64 years of marriage — took of family and friends over the years. In addition being an avid scrapbooker, Boston also collects postcards. She has them organized and stores them in shoeboxes.

On occasion, Boston will pull out the postcards or scrapbooks for nostalgic reasons — but that’s only when she has time. Most days, she’s busy working on yet another volume or reading one of the 45-plus magazines she buys — and then goes to work on — a month.

When asked what it has been like to see such a vast change in race relations over the course of her life, Boston answered, “I never noticed. (The color of a person’s skin) never really mattered to me.”

This writer took a photograph of Boston and her daughter on an iPhone, and showed Boston whose eyes widened as she smiled. Seconds later, she was back piecing through her scrapbooks turning each page gingerly, the efforts of her own hard work fluttering beneath her fingertips, the iPhone quickly forgotten.

Eula Mae Boston.Just under 5-feet tall, Boston moves with the energy of someone far younger. She eats healthy and heartily, and likes to get up and move. She’s quick to recall memories and loves to talk about her husband, Sapp’s father, though both women choked up when discussing their now-deceased loves.

“I had the best husband,” Boston said. “He always thought of me about everything.”

“To make it simple to describe,” Sapp added, “when he would take the garbage out, he would give mother a kiss before he left. You couldn’t have asked for a better husband or father.”

Nor could you ask for a better mother, Sapp maintained. “She is such a delight. She’s so special and I just think that she can be an inspiration to a number of people.”

Eula Mae Boston.When Sapp’s husband, Robert Edward Sapp, died “I realized after he was gone, I wasn’t needed, so Mother helped me out because I was needed — we need each other.”

This year, Boston celebrated her 103rd birthday with a party of family and friends. “The Lord will let me live as long as he wants,” she said.

“We’re working on 104 now,” Sapp said.

Writer Angie Fenton can be reached at angie@voice-tribune.com or 502.551.2698.

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Angie Fenton
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.

Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.

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