When Langley resident Dorothy Sweet was born, the Great War was coming to an end, Charlie Chaplain was a star of movies that were, literally, films, Al Jolson had a hit record in “you ain’t seen nothing yet and telephones with rotary dials that allowed direct calling had just arrived.
Sweet was born at her parent’s home, on a farm in Manitoba, one of nine children, and she grew up learning how to milk cows, sew her own clothes and cook from scratch, among other skills.
On Saturday, April 27, the day of her 100th birthday, Sweet was taken aback by the number of family and friends who turned out to celebrate the event, held at the Langley Golf Centre.
More than 40 family and friends attended, some coming from as far away as Manitoba.
Her daughter Ruth had only told her “some people” were coming to her birthday, Dorothy said.
“You call this some people?” the new centenarian said.
“I can’t believe all the people want to see me,” Sweet added. “Such a surprise.”
Ruth said her mother had a great time, staying till the end of the party, even performing her favourite tune, “You are my sunshine,” a song she used to sing around her children.
Her mother used to make all the clothes she and her brother wore, Ruth recalled.
“She taught me how to sew,” Ruth said.
Ruth remembers going out to milk the cows on the farm with her mom while her brother stayed inside and did the dishes.
Dorothy’s late husband Garnet used to train horses in horses in Cloverdale, and Dorothy would work along side him, Ruth recalled.
Her son, Mervin Sweet, lit up when he described his mother’s perogies and cabbage rolls.
“She was a good cook,” he said, one who didn’t like anyone to go hungry.
“If you go there [to our house], you had to eat,” he said.
“She was a great mom.”
Dorothy has six grand children, six great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson, who is two.
Family friend Arlene Sweet recalled how Dorothy decided in her seventies that it was time to take her very first ride, as a passenger, on a motorcycle.
“She doesn’t have a fear of anything,” Arlene said.
Dorothy received a letter of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth II.
“I am delighted to hear that you are celebrating your one hundredth birthday,” the message from the 93-year-old monarch read.
“I send you my warmest congratulations on this happy occasion and good wishes for an enjoyable day.”
“It was signed “Elizabeth. R.”
Granddaughter Judy Derksen said someone managed to find a commercially-printed happy 100th birthday card and it was given a place of honour on the table with the message from the Queen.
Daughter Ruth called her “one of the greatest mothers” and related how she loved gardening.
“We had fresh vegetables every summer,” Ruth said.
And Dorothy loved her flowers, especially “making her pansies grow.”
She used to make all her children’s clothing.
“She was my Mom, my friend,” Ruth said, then quickly corrected herself.
“My best friend.”
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