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Happy 100th, Grannie!

Updated on February 25, 2013

My Grandmother Turns 100

This page is dedicated to Callie Perna Penland Stewart, my grandmother and sole living grandparent, who turned 100 in October 2009. Thankfully I was able to attend her birthday party with my children and get to see all my family - and it's a big family! Here's a tribute to my dear Grannie.

Grannie, about age 80

Happy Birthday Grannie!

Callie Perna Penland Stewart

100 years old

October 11, 2009

Grannie - Early Years

Callie Perna Penland was born in south Texas in October 1909, 9th of 12 children. Her brother Jack (the 8th child) died from a severe infection when a bullet that had been lodged in a piece of wood in the fireplace exploded and struck his foot. The 10th child, a son, lived only a few hours, and the final baby of the family was hydrocephalic and lived only two years, so she was the baby girl and in effect the second youngest of her large family.

Unassailable family legend has it that Grannie's great-grandmother was a Cherokee.

She married at age 16, had a baby at 17, and was widowed by age 19 when her husband caught scarlet fever. With Hazel, her two-year-old daughter, in tow, she caught the eye of two brothers: Charlie and Clarence Stewart. Strong, silent Clarence won out over his elder brother, outgoing Charlie. Clarence and Callie eloped and came home married, to everyone's surprise. She was 21; he was 19 - nearly scandalous at the time!

My grandfather Clarence and my great-uncle Charlie.

Clarence is the skinny, squinty one on the right.

Clarence and Callie, shortly after their wedding.

Clarence and Charlie lived on the family homestead outside Boerne, Texas, and worked together as cedar choppers and charcoal burners. (Boerne is "burney" - because I know you were wondering.) Cedar burned when it is green does not reduce to fine ash, but to a hard char which can be shaped into charcoal briquettes. The cedar is placed in a deep pit and covered with earth to seal out air, and burned over two to three days, carefully tended.

Clarence (left) and Charlie preparing a cedar burn.

Callie and Clarence moved into a home on the family spread with Hazel, Callie's two-year-old daughter. Charlie soon had a wife, Lilly, and they moved into their own home on the land; and Hazel soon had a baby brother, Herbert.

[back] Clarence & Callie, Charlie & Lilly,

[front] my great-grandparents George Washington "Babe" Stewart and Laura Mertz Stewart

holding my aunt Hazel and my uncle Herbert.

The well-stocked root cellar is to the left.

More babies came along until there were five: Hazel, Herbert, Annie Laura, Travis, and Mary Lou. Their fourth child, Travis, is my father. It never occurred to me until I was grown that his name "Travis" was wildly out of step with his siblings' very plain names of Hazel, Herb, Ann, and Mary. I discovered that my uncle Herb, six at the time, was given the privilege of choosing a name for his baby brother. He chose to name him after Colonel Travis of the Alamo.

Grannie's five children: my dad Travis in front blocking his brother Herbert,

Hazel with puppy, and Ann holding Mary.

This is my great-grandmother Laura with two of her other grandchildren, Charlie's kids Violet and Bill.

I include it here because of the interesting fact that my great-aunt Lilly was very ill after Violet was born, and was unable to nurse the baby. Violet and my father Travis were born within a few days of each other, so several times a day Charlie would carry Violet down the hill to my grandmother who nursed Violet along with her own baby, Travis.

My great-grandmother assisted as a granny-midwife at the births of most of her grandchildren. Callie also helped her friends and family as a granny-midwife, and all of her own children were born at home. In fact, my father was born in the same house, in the same room, in the same bed that his father was born in.

Though Grannie had only an 8th-grade education, and my grandfather went to school for only three or four years, they were very proud of the fact that all five of their children graduated from high school, and four of them also graduated from college. The collegial exception was the oldest, Hazel, who married at 17. Her first child, Shirley, is only a few years younger than her own youngest sister, Mary. My cousin Shirley's first child is my age.

Grannie holding her first grandchild, Shirley;

with her two youngest children Travis and Mary.


Paw and Grannie have

five children,

fifteen grandchildren,

and more than 60

great-, great-great,

and great-great-great


Rhoda Cupps Penland on her 76th birthday in 1949.

All of my great-grandmothers lived into their 90s,

and I was privileged to know each of them.

Has Anyone in Your Family Reached 100?

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I just had to include this picture of my dreamboat Uncle Herb

with his rascally looking Tom Sawyer-like younger brother

- my father. Pretty sure he's sticking out his tongue.

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Grannie - Later Years

Since the baby of the family, Mary, had no children, my father's children are the tag-alongs. I am the third youngest of 15 grandchildren; only one cousin and my brother are younger.

Paw and Granny in 1976,

with my older sister Laura on the horse.

My grandparents continued to live on lots of acreage (though not the original family homestead) and had a hard-working life. Not to gross anyone out too much, but for all of my life until just a few years ago, my grandparents and my dad (later just my dad and grandmother) ran a day hunting business on 1,500 acres, so I grew up seeing sights like this one. Because they drove each hunter to a blind to sit and hunt rather than letting them walk around freely, they never had any accidents in all those years.

My brother Brady in the snazzy plaid pants, my grandparents with a buck, a friend, and my sister on the horse.

Visiting the ranch was always a high point. Why, I could get bitten by geese, chased by javelinas, have my hand stepped on by a horse, or be trampled by an entire herd of sheep! But not all in one visit of course. Yes, all those things really did happen to me, but I still loved going to the ranch. The sheep mostly jumped over me, and the javelina was a half-tame one caught by my much older boy cousins, and if I had only stopped running it would have stopped chasing me ... but when you're three, that kind of logic just doesn't work.

Jenny the donkey carrying my sister Laura,

me in the middle, and my brother Brady.

I learned to sew at my grandmother's house. When she knew I was coming, Grannie always would have my absolute favorite baked beans - she was a wonderful cook! And, though she has pretty much quit cooking altogether in these later years, she still makes the most incredible biscuits I've ever eaten. Sheer heaven! (And yes, I am trying to get the recipe to post here!)

Grannie in 1985 at my wedding, with my younger brother.

Grannie in 1995 with my first baby.

My grandfather died at age 79, and by this time my grandparents were living in "town" but still had their 1,500-acre hunting lease. I say "town" in quotation marks because Reagan Wells is 20 houses in a spot on a road that goes up into the foothills and nowhere after that. But at least they had some neighbors!

Grannie lives in that house still, although as she became more frail, one of her three children who lived near or occasionally a grown grandchild would move in with her for a while to help out (though she still lived on her own - by her choice! - for long stretches until she was past 90). My father lived with her for several years after my mother died, and now she and my youngest aunt, Mary, live together on a permanent basis.

Grannie still gets around, sometimes with a cane. She had a mild stroke earlier this year and there was some concern that her 100th birthday would be a remembrance rather than a birthday party, but when her daughter told her it was three months until her birthday, she responded cheerfully, "Oh, I can make it that long!"

What's the Secret?

Who knows what the secret

is for getting to 100?

My dad and I joke that for Grannie,

it's because she's

always "doing better."

Whenever we call and ask how

she is, her invariable answer is,

"Oh, I'm doing better!"

"Better than what" is a moot

question, but we know

Grannie is always doing better!

Grannie in 2006, age 96.

This is Grannie in the middle, and to the left of the picture my dad and my brother, with my sister and me seated in front of them. The younger set is my four kids, my sister's three kids, and my brother's two kids. There were probably 60 people at the party - it was great!

Goodbye, Grannie

Grannie made it to two more birthdays. About a month after her 102nd birthday, she slipped away quietly. She still lived in her own home, attended only by her youngest daughter, with no hospital stay.

Goodbye, Grannie - I know

you're doing better now!

My 100th Lens

This was the 100th lens I made on Squidoo and it fell conveniently within a couple of weeks of my grandmother's 100th birthday,

so I dedicated #100 to her.


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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What sweetness you have created....may we all remember to be doing better, now that's a positive testimony that I'm sure had some influence. To still live in your own home at 102 is a dream come true and to slip into eternity gently....I love that you included Psalm 100 in this tribute to a remarkable lady who lived well. Congratulations on being featured in Editor for a Day! :)

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 4 years ago

      Great lens, Love all the pictures!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Memories last forever! Awesome lens.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      Great tribute.for your grandmother. I love the lenses with a story. Thanks

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      Such a wonderful tribute to your grandmother.

    • Kathleen Hiler profile image

      Kathleen Hiler 5 years ago from Mountain Home

      Very touching tribute to Grannie:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a beautiful story about Grannie and your family.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      What a beautiful tribute to a very special lady. My condolences on your loss.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is a beautiful tribute and I know you must be so glad that you created it. You have such treasured memories. Thank you for sharing. I loved all the photos. This Tribute will mean so much to your family. Beautiful and I feel sure your Granny is looking down telling you that she is doing better!

    • LNAngel profile image

      Lauren 6 years ago from Florida

      What a beautiful ending.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      What wonderful family memories. I wish more people would put their family history on a page like this. Now you whole family and distant relatives can come visit it and enjoy all the photos whenever they want.

      I'm sure your granny is "doing better" now that she's gone to heaven! Blessed by a squid angel.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Lovely tribute to what sounds like a lovely lady.

    • Othercatt profile image

      Othercatt 6 years ago

      Wow! 102! It sounds like she lived a long happy life.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 6 years ago

      What a wonderful tribute to your granny. I'm so sorry for your loss, but glad you have plenty of good memories.

    • profile image

      jseven lm 6 years ago

      This is a very touching memory of your granny and I love all the pics. So glad she got to leave from home as my own mother did, too. God console you with the hope of seeing her again in heaven. Blessed.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Beautiful tribute to your beautiful Grandmother. She had a full life for sure. Blessed

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 6 years ago

      What a wonderful tribute! I am sorry to hear she is gone now. What a lifetime she had and a beautiful family. She must have had some great stories. I love the photos you shared and your family history.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

      Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

      What a wonderfully long life your Grannie had to share with you! How amazing that she was able to know your children. One of my grandmother's lived to 97. She told stories of the first car, radio and airplane coming to town. I am sure that your Grannie will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      praise the Lord for each and every member of your family! God loves all of you! =)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I love this! And I love the photos. Go, Grannie!

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 7 years ago

      you are blessed with such a big and united family.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 7 years ago from Washington KS

      What a beautiful lens, well-deserving of its purple star.

      Thanks for stopping my my Grandma's economy lessons lens.

      She died at age 91 and I still miss her every day.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Very heartwarming lens. My paternal grandma lived to 99. ...I heard an old lady on NPR one time saying that the secret is to "stay active." Seems like the right idea. :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Lensrolling this to my You're Only as Old As You Feel lens. Hope Grannie is still doing well!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 7 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: She's doing great - thanks for asking (and for the lensroll)!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Oh how I wished my grandmother lived longer and was with us today. I miss her dearly. So heartwarming to connect with someone who obviously loves their grandma as much as I love(d) mine. Grandmas are such important role models for us ... aren't they?

    • vanidiana24 profile image

      vanidiana24 8 years ago

      Beautiful lens for a beautiful grandma!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very Rare to see that, I liked the photo gallery throughout the lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      wow, a wonderful memories :-)

    • profile image

      maryannk 8 years ago

      Wonderful, Carma! Has your grandmother seen it yet? Lucky lady. :-)

    • Tagsforkids profile image

      Tagsforkids 8 years ago

      A wonderful lens, and big birthday wishes to Grannie. My Grannie turns 96 next month and looking good to make the century mark herself. I hope I can write a tribute as touching!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Such a sweet tribute lens! Family lenses like this make me cry. Very well done, I love it!

    • profile image

      aerie 8 years ago

      awww, what a sweet tribute! Happy birthday, Grannie!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Happy 100th Birthday to your Grannie! Congratulations on your much deserved Purple Star! :)

    • puzzlerpaige profile image

      puzzlerpaige 8 years ago

      Happy happy birthday to Grannie. Thank you for sharing your family memories. I love the humor thrown in too. Have a wonderful trip. Today is Oct. 1 so it won't be long!

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 8 years ago

      Spectacular! I loved the whole story. Not a better 100th lens or birthday tribute to be found.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      Beautiful lens. Happy 100th birthday to Miss Callie.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      GORGEOUS Lens! Happy 100th indeed :)

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      What wonderful family memories and photographs. A hearty Happy Birthday to your Grannie!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Yes, Happy Birthday from me, too!

      What a wonderful family memory.

      You are blessed!

    • profile image

      Joan4 8 years ago

      What a beautiful 100th lens! Blessed by a joyful SquidAngel!

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 8 years ago

      What a beautiful lens! I love those photos too!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Happy Birthday, Grannie! What a wonderful tribute from your dear granddaughter. My own grandmother will turn 100 next May and we're all looking forward to that occasion. Have a wonderful celebration!