NEWS

Martha Waters of Greencastle to celebrate of century of living

PAT FRIDGEN
Martha Waters, 99, lives independently, and is in good health. She will celebrate her big birthday on May 2.

Martha Mertz Waters has a lot to recall. The Greencastle woman turns 100-years-old on May 2.

Rapidly approaching the century mark, Waters has fond memories of her father, who died when she was 4. She still can't reconcile the actions of her mother, who put her only daughter in and out of foster care while keeping her four sons at home.

Nevertheless, Waters found happiness with one foster family in particular, and with her husband, and always with special friends.

Waters was born May 2, 1912 in Waynesboro, the middle child in a farming family. They soon moved to State Line. After her dad passed away she began to live in a series of foster homes in Hagerstown, Md.

"I'd get used to one place and then my mom would take me home," she recalled. She did remember good times with her aunt, who took her to movies.

She finally settled in with the Cramers, and attended school through eighth grade, finishing up in Martinsburg, W.Va. She met Hollis Waters, who was employed by her host family.  They moved to the Mason-Dixon Line area and he followed a year later. The couple wed Dec. 24, 1932 and lived with the Cramers. Hollis served in the military, and worked at Pangborn and then Letterkenny. Their only child was stillborn. Hollis died in 1965.

The diminuitive Waters, all 4 foot 7 of her, helped with chores on the farm. She shocked wheat, cut corn and made hay. Often she was on a horse, something familiar from childhood. Then she would ride one to school, and it would return in the afternoon to bring her home.

Waters and Mrs. Cramer continued to live together until the elder woman died in 1969 at age 92. Waters had first purchased a home on South Carlisle Street, and bought her present home on East Franklin Street in 1977. That's when she met Carolyn Bingaman, whose parents-in-law lived next door. Bingaman has kept an eye on her ever since. They frequently eat lunch out, choose chicken from the menu, and particularly favor Mikie's Restaurant.

Another friend, Margaretta Stine, used to join Waters once a month when they each received their veterans benefits checks. Then they spent the whole day together, mostly shopping.

"I called her Mrs. Stine and she called me Martha."

Waters enjoyed cooking and attended Otterbein Church when it was located at the corner of South Washington Street and East Franklin Street. Now that she's at the century mark, she watches television a lot.

"I've still got a sound mind," she declared. "I'm the last of my family. My brothers stayed around here, but they never married."

She is healthy, treated only for high blood pressure, and doesn't have a secret to a long life.

Bingaman interjected, "She used to tell me it's because she left the men alone."

Waters doesn't know what she wants for her birthday, but looks forward to the party Bingaman has planned for her at Mrs. Gibble’s Restaurant.