By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON September 9, 2003 It isnt every day the whole town shows up on your doorstep.
But Edythe Johnson isnt your every day type of person.
The Callicoon resident turned 100 years old Saturday. But when you ask her just what its like to be 100, her eyes start to glimmer.
I dont know, she says with a hint of mischief in her voice. What are all these old people doing here?
Well, someone asks, what kind of advice would you give someone on living to 100?
Id advise everyone to do it if they can make it, she adds with a grin.
It seemed the whole town turned out for Johnsons 100th birthday party Sunday afternoon the open house was advertised in the Democrat so no one would be left off of the guest list.
According to daughter Joan, Johnson is the oldest living member of the Callicoon United Methodist Church and an upstanding member of the community.
Shes an inspiration for the rest of the church, Joan Johnson said.
The elder Johnson was born and raised in northwestern New Jersey. She taught school in Blairstown, N.J., before marrying Merritt Johnson and staying at home to raise their daughter.
Unable to sit still at home, Johnson spent her time in the church and helping others during World War II she knit sweaters, hats and scarves for the troops overseas.
That hobby later turned to making baby bonnets, and now she makes hats for the homeless.
She was always there for me, Joan recalled. I wasnt a latchkey kid.
She was very active in the church, both in New Jersey and here, and she was a Girl Scout mom and choir mother.
The Johnsons moved to Callicoon after Merritts retirement in 1968, and Edythe quickly got involved in her new community.
She volunteered at Grover Hermann Hospital and joined the ladies group at the Methodist Church.
Shes caring, Joan said. Shes not outgoing, but shes willing to help people.
She has a lot of faith in God, Joan added. Steve Duffy [a fellow parishioner] put it very nicely Without a word, she says volumes with a look and a smile.
She still has the ability to capture a room, she continued, reading from a happy birthday message written up by Duffy for the Sunday morning service.
And the lady who rides her wheelchair into church even after a fall broke her hip and kept her out of the building for a few months garnered a standing ovation during Sunday services.
She says she doesnt know whats going to happen when she gets old, Joan said with a laugh.