Lawrence Foster, Going Strong at 100 years of age
Lawrence Foster of Tioga claims to have a sure-fire elixer for prolonging life and vitality.
The formula : "Working hard and being careful."
Foster ought to know what he's talking about. He turned 100 years old Monday.
Seeing and hearing the man gives more credence to his philosophy, for Foster needs no eyeglasses, uses no cane and eats what he pleases.
"I've done as much hard work as any man in Texas, and there's not a stiff joint in my body," he boasted. "I feel as good now as when I was 25."
Perhaps this explains how Foster managed to launch a second career in carpentry at 65 when most people are hanging up their tools for good.
"I did that until I was 83 and built several houses around (Tioga), including this one," Foster said while waving his hand to show the room.
Listening to Foster tell about his early years, about plowing fields with "single stock and double shovel," almost requires a new vocabulary of old words. Yet this may be just retribution for what the Twentieth Century has required of the centenarian.
"Why, when I was a little younger," Foster exclaimed, "going to the moon was the craziest thing a person could talk about."
"We didn't have a radio or TV. At night we'd just sit around fireside and tell big jokes," he recalled.
"People used to work hard back then, sun up to sun down, and I worked even harder because I worked for a real lazy man."
Foster was born on a farm in Mr. Judea, Ark., June 15, 1881. At age 24, he married a 16-year-old neighbor, Viola Heffley, and in 1919 loaded his wife and six daughters on a covered wagon and headed for Oklahoma.
"That was in November," he said. "The trip took more than a month because there was a lot of rain and we couldn't ford the creeks."
In the meantime, however, the Foster family would pick cotton in nearby fields.
"We spent two years farming in Oklahoma, but there was a lot of sickness there, so we moved down to Collinsville."
Reestablishing himself with a trade he learned in Arkansas, Foster bought and ran a syrup mill for sorghum farmers within a 20-mile radius of Collinsville.
"I got 25 cents a gallon for it during the poor years," Foster said. "I paid $25 and 125 gallons once for a mule."
In 1932 Foster moved to Tioga which at that time, was a "pretty fast town," he said.
"Back then we had several groceries, a dry goods store, barber shop, a skating rink and a picture show that'd draw 50-75 people every Saturday night," Foster said. But it's a dead town now."
Foster lived along after his wife's death in 1945 until his 98th birthday, when his five daughters in Tioga to each take turns spending a day with and caring for their father.
"Dad has a good appetite but doesn't overeat," said Mrs. Cora Clark, who lives next door. "He doesn't eat sweets and isn't too much of a meat eater. But he likes vegetables and drinks milk for lunch and dinner."
Mrs. Clark also said her father didn't smoke or drink.
"But I have been tooted up a time or two," he interrupted.
Now days, Foster likes to spend his time leisurely perched in his porch swing, remembering moments in his 100-year history and waiting for new ones.
Most of the 10 children, 22 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren that Foster is responsible for and their families - helped him celebrate birthday Saturday. A catered barbeque luncheon was followed by an open house with Foster's friends.
Foster said he was worried, however, that he may have needed a fire extinguisher for all those candles.
"But I always knew I'd make a hundred," he said with a wry smile.
"It's all in the mind, taking care of yourself and working hard...but not too hard."