Grandma Manilia, born on July 11, 1890, was my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family. To my children she was known as “Old Grandma”, not because she was old but because she was their oldest grandma. I am Joyce Matherne Forbes, the daughter of Nolan Andrew and Donnis Jones Matherne. Nolan was the oldest child of Francois Anatole and Manilia Josephine Aydell Matherne. I was their second grandchild and my sister Margaret was their first.
Grandma Manilia always remembered everyone’s birthday and gave us cards. She would save silver dimes and give them to the small children on their birthday. Also, the newborn babies would receive dimes for their banks. When her 100th birthday rolled around, we had quite a celebration! Numerous family and friends attended the event held at King George Recreation Center in French Settlement, Louisiana. They came to eat cake—a little something sweet—with her and to wish her a Happy Birthday. “A little something sweet after you eat or when company showed up” was a favorite saying of Grandma Manilia. She was always giving, whether it was sweets, dimes, or hand-me-downs. I always got her size 10 shoes. I guess I was the only one around with big feet like her. Oh well, I was proud to walk in her shoes.
Another fond memory was Older Folk’s Day at the annual Livingston Parish Fair. It was held every October in Livingston, Louisiana. Grandma Manilia enjoyed this event very much and we would go just to see her smile. The program began with registration at 9 a.m. and would end at 12 noon with a luncheon served by the Council On Aging. Local citizens seventy-five years of age and older would compete for the title of “Oldest Married Couple”, “Oldest Man”, and “Oldest Woman”. Also, a King and Queen would be crowned. When brought on stage, the winners would each receive a ribbon, a trophy, a bouquet of flowers, and a few dollars. Grandma Manilia won the “Oldest Woman” title four years in a row – 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990. In 1990, she was 100 years old and we were all very proud of her!
Grandma Manilia always treated me good and I will always remember her. She was a kind lady who always thought of other people. She died on December 9, 1993 and is greatly missed by all who knew her.