Agnes Henderson cuts her birthday cake during a party at the Wal-Mart in Evans for her 90th birthday. Henderson is a member of the store's bingo club, and the celebration took place during the Thursday morning bingo session Aug. 26.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
When Agnes Henderson walked into the McDonald's at the Evans Wal-Mart on Aug. 26, she had no idea she was in for a surprise.
"I can't talk for crying," said the 90-year-old Evans woman. "I wasn't expecting this."
Henderson, who meets more than 25 of her peers at the restaurant every Thursday to play bingo, was given a surprise birthday party complete with a spray of 90 multicolored roses, a poem titled Forever Young, a cake decorated with a bingo card, and gifts.
Fellow bingo player Margaret Freeman said her friend deserved the celebration.
"She is so grateful," she said. "It couldn't have happened to a better person."
Patricia Shaw, a floor department manager and community involvement coordinator for Wal-Mart, coordinated the party. While at the party, she asked Henderson what her secret is for longevity.
"I've always loved everybody," she said. "I've never smoked. I've never drank. I did have my little love affairs, but you know that goes along with life."
She also confessed that her bingo friends keep her going.
"I owe it all to my friends at Wal-Mart," she said. "(They) motivate me to get up and out of bed in the morning. I look forward to (bingo) every week. Bingo keeps me going. I can't stand the weekends."
Born on August 31, 1914, in Henager, Ala., Henderson grew up on a farm with 11 siblings, where she said she learned how to pick cotton and pull leaves off of cornstalks.
At the age of 14, she said, she moved to Trion, a town in Chattooga County, Ga., where she pretended to be 16 so she could work as a weaver.
"I used to go to work before daylight and work 'til dark for $5.85," she said.
But, she said, her life suddenly changed all because of one man.
"I still remember what (Franklin D.) Roosevelt did for me," she said of her favorite president.
"He gave me eight hours a day (to work). I didn't have to work 12 hours anymore. I went to work at 7 a.m. and got off at 3 p.m. I thought I was on vacation."
She also credited Roosevelt for making Social Security a possibility.
"He's the reason why I can be independent in my old age," she said.
As a mother of two, with eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and two great-great- grandchildren, Henderson said she enjoys life and people.
"I try to help people to the best of my ability," she said. "I take people to the grocery store to go get groceries, and I go to the nursing home and sing."
Although many people are surprised that Henderson is still able to drive, she said, more people are shocked about her appearance.
"People always like to pull my hair because they think it's a wig," she said.
Henderson said she has changed a lot, but she confessed that one of her attributes is still the same.
"I still have my smile."
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