100-year-old Alma Hoffman advises people to write things down

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Born near the Greencastle reservoir east of town, Alma Keller would walk to a one-room school in Antrim Township.

Now Alma Hoffman, she doesn’t recall the name of the school or some other details of her long life, and so offers words of wisdom.

“I tell everybody to write things down, so you’ll remember. I didn’t,” said Hoffman, who turned 100 on Wednesday, July 13.

Flower arrangements sent to Alma Hoffman in honor of her 100th birthday cover the dining room table of her Greencastle home.

She was honored Sunday morning, July 10, at Otterbein United Brethren in Church, which she attends regularly, and family came from as far away as California, Texas and North Carolina for a party Saturday, July 16, at Blue Heron.

She’s received upwards of 100 cards, and flower arrangements cover the dining room table and are displayed elsewhere in her North Carlisle Street home, where four-generation family photos sit on the mantel.

Born July 13, 1922, to William and Grace Keller, she had one brother and one sister. She recalled they didn’t celebrate much, and it was a big deal when a neighbor gave her hard candy and a dime for Christmas.

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After attending the one-room school, she advanced to Greencastle High School. That’s when she met her future husband, Harold, who was a “soda jerk” at a local drug store. The name of the drug store is something else Hoffman can’t recall and wishes she had written down. An Echo Pilot History’s Echoes column on drug stores said he clerked at Foust's Drug Store.

They married in 1944 and “went into housekeeping” on the east side of the first block North Carlisle Street. They had to move when the former Citizens National Bank of Greencastle was built, and relocated across the street to the home where she still lives today.

Her husband worked at Letterkenny Army Depot and she stayed home to raise their three children. The family includes two daughters and a son, Trudy Ensminger, Carole Deans and William Hoffman, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Harold Hoffman died in 2011.

Cards from well-wishers are in displayed in the home of Alma Hoffman of Greencastle, who turned 100 on July 13.

After their children were older, she went to work at Carl’s Drug Store before becoming a teller at the former First National Bank of Greencastle in the late 1960s. Located on Center Square, it was just down the block from her house and she could go home for lunch.

“I liked waiting on people. I knew a lot of people at that time. I really enjoyed it,” according to Hoffman, who said she was with First National “a long time.”

It was daughter, Trudy Ensminger, who clarified her mother worked at the bank until she was 86.

Asked why she thinks she’s lived to 100, Hoffman shrugged and said, “That’s a good question … I guess standing on my feet at the bank.”

A cleaning person comes in every two weeks, but Hoffman still changes her own sheets and does her own laundry.

“She always wants to look nice,” Ensminger added.

Hoffman loves to play cards and remembers being part of a big card club that met during the week to play 500. Now, she and three other ladies just a little younger than she is get together every Saturday night to play Hand and Foot.

Hoffman had hoped to escape a newspaper interview for her milestone birthday.

“I didn’t want to do it and I thought I was getting away with it,” she admitted. “Trudy told me the day before and I thought 'good night!’”

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at shardy@gannett.com