By LeAnn Dilbeck
The true salt of the earth, Ms. Edyth Garmon, better known as “Ms. Etta,” celebrated her 102nd birthday among family and friends at The Oaks Assisted Living Community. And anyone that knows her will tell you she is as independent and tenacious as she’s ever been!
Ms. Etta was born in 1911 in Waters, (now known as Pine Ridge) Arkansas to Harvey and Ova Gamble. She was actually born in the same house as both her mother and grandmother. She and her husband, Ecil, were married for 56 years, and she’ll be the first to tell you they were happy years. The couple was blessed with three children, Mary, E.W. “Bud,” and Patricia. She also enjoys her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren along with a very special friend, Moppy Billingsley. “I think of Moppy as one of my own children…I don’t love her any different than them. She has always treated me just like family.”
Residing in Arkansas most of her life, except for a brief stent in Bakersfield, CA, Ms. Etta was a homemaker and also worked as an assistant at Beasley-Wood Funeral Home for many years. She has always enjoyed gardening, landscaping, and quilting.
Raising a family through the Great Depression, Ms. Etta’s philosophy is simple, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself!” She spoke proudly of her family and their self-sufficiency. “We’d come to town on the last bale of cotton…get our winter shoes, buy 100 pounds of coffee and sugar, 600 or 700 pounds of flour. Momma would sell eggs to buy the baking powders. We always had a garden…we’d can 1,000-1,200 quarts or so.”
Ms. Etta continued, “We never took welfare. There was one time that Dick Huddleston was passing out some commodities and made my Daddy take half a bushel of potatoes but I assure you, that was ALL we ever took. We took care of ourselves and if there was any left over…which was hardly ever…we helped someone else.”
“Work hard and be honest,” is Ms. Etta’s pearl of wisdom for today’s young people. “My Daddy always said to stand behind your word. If you can’t keep your word and do what you say you’ll do, then go direct to the person and tell them.”
Ms. Etta enjoyed living independently at Price Mobile Courts for 18 years until she had an attempted intruder one night. A scrappy Ms. Etta didn’t bother calling for help but yet chose to defend herself with a club that had once belonged to her husband. She said when she turned on the light, the truck left. “I didn’t have to use it [the club] but I guarantee you if he’d a tried to come in my door, it would have been the last one he’d come in!”
Following that incident, her son Bud, insisted she move in with him and his wife, Vicki. Doctors later discovered that she had developed macular degeneration, which ultimately leads to loss of vision. Ms. Etta chose to move in to Peachtree in November of 2008 and later to The Oaks after its completion. Her son, Bud, was out of town at the time, and knew nothing of her decision until Ms. Etta had made all of the arrangements.”
She’s been crowned the 2009 Peachtree Queen and has graced the cover of The Polk County Pulse among her many accomplishments. Surrounded by a host of family and friends at her celebration July 27, the very spunky 102-year old Ms. Etta that is beloved to so many shows absolutely no sign of slowing down!