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Neighbor: Chapman is a

woman of the century

By JAINE TREADWELL

Features Editor

July 13, 2000 10 PM

"Great grannies!"

That’s how most people respond to Ocie Chapman.

As a young octogenarian, Mrs. Chapman began turning heads as she perched on her roof with a broom in her hand, cleaning out the rain gutters.

Everyone was amazed, except Mrs. Chapman. For her, it was all in a day’s work.

Today, she celebrates her 100th birthday and, although she’s not climbing on the roof anymore, she hasn’t lost her nerve and she’s only slowed down a notch or two.

In her 100 years, Mrs. Chapman has seen the world move from foot speed to jet speed. She has seen its people move from a galvanized wash tub to a hot tub and she has seen communication expand from across the garden fence to around the world at the touch of the fingertips.

Mrs. Chapman has seen the country send its young patriots to five wars and 18 presidents take office. She has seen man climb the world’s highest mountain and walk on the moon.

She lived through the Great Depression and watched women "come a long way."

And, now she’s moving into the new millennium with a hundred years under her belt.

Through it all, the most amazing thing she has seen is the flower garden in her own front yard.

Of all the things man has done, the most wonderful and amazing things of this world are the things that God has done, Mrs. Chapman said.

Every day, no matter how high the temperature or the humidity, Mrs. Chapman is in her yard tending her flowers and enjoying the beauty of each one.

"I’ve always loved pretty flowers," she said. "I can’t do all the things in my yard that I once could but I can still do enough to enjoy it."

Mrs. Chapman lives by herself and "gets about" on her own. She has three living children and she enjoys them and the grandchildren. Her church family at Hamilton Crossroads Church of Christ is very special to her and they have always been.

Mrs. Chapman is a native of the Crossroads and there’s no better place on earth.

Of course, she said she hasn’t been to every place on earth, and she has no desire to do so, but she can’t imagine a better place than where she entered this world.

"I’ve lived in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee," she said. "My husband worked for the railroad and we got to go a lot of places and see a lot of things. But I love home, and I love being outside working with my flowers."

In all her 100 years, Mrs. Chapman doesn’t believe she’s missed anything that would’ve made her life better. She’s never been across the ocean because "I don’t want to get out on water." She’s never ridden a bike because she never tried. But, she has ridden in an airplane and it didn’t bother her a bit.

So, she doesn’t lament the things she’s never done nor does she make too much out of the things she has done.

"I’ve just enjoyed life as it came," she said, and that ability to enjoy life and be content wherever she was is part of her secret to a long life.

"You can’t worry about things and you shouldn’t want for things you don’t need," she said. "I don’t have any secret for a long life except to live a clean life, take vitamins and eat a lot of peas, turnips, collards and drink orange juice."

Mrs. Chapman said that may not be a proven formula for a long life, but it’s worked for her for 100 years now.

But, no matter what formula one uses for life, there will be hard times and sad times.

"The hardest thing in life is when you lose someone you love," she said. "I’ve lost my oldest daughter and my husband and, oh, so many friends. If there’s anything bad about living 100 years, it’s losing the ones you love."

But through it all, Mrs. Chapman has remained optimistic and always cheerful.

"You can’t let things get you down," she said. "You have to keep going. And, one more thing, don’t sit down. Live your life as long as you can."