Imogene Jones never lived more than 20 or so miles from Braymer, Mo., where  she  was born Dec. 14, 1909.

Imogene Jones never lived more than 20 or so miles from Braymer, Mo., where  she  was born Dec. 14, 1909.

The oldest of eight children,  the soon-to-be-centenarian never progressed further than the eight grade at Layton School in Braymer.

Nor did she fulfill her heart’s desire to attend college and become a teacher – just like her inspiration: her  “wonderful” first grade teacher.

Further more, Imogene never owned a computer or used one. And she’s never ridden on a train either, she says, because she had no desire to do so.

“I guess I am just a homebody. I just like to stay (at home),” Imogene says from her wheelchair in her fourth-floor room at Rosewood Medical Center at The Groves.

Imogene, though, has no regrets. Except for “a few rough spots” along the way, it’s been a good life for the family matriarch who has one living brother and sister, four living children, 16 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

“I had a good family and that was the main thing,” Imogene says, noting she received the most happiness from her late husband Horace, who died  just shy of their 50th wedding anniversary in December 1977, and her five children – Byrle (deceased), Richard, Beth, Melvin and Eldon.

Attired in a red and white gingham dress and a light beige cotton sweater, the petite, silver/white-haired woman talks fondly about growing up on the family farm with her seven siblings.

The Caldwell County farm was “a good place to grow up,” she recalls, because it was there her strict parents  taught her “right from wrong.”

“Mom and Dad chose to tell us right from wrong,”  she says, recalling her parents didn’t tolerate lying, cheating  or stealing. “If they had caught us stealing, I think they would have killed us. ...Other than that, they were generous parents.”

So it wasn’t surprising when Imogene blurted our “liars” in a stern voice and a scowl on her face when asked what she disliked most in life.

“I despise a liar. Yes, I do. (Liars) don’t do anything but cause trouble. That’s the way I see it, anyway.”

Imogene’s granddaughter, Janet Hamilton, who sat in on the interview, chuckled at Imogene’s emphatic reply. “I knew (grandma) was going to say that.”

Imogene is no stranger to work. As the oldest child, her mother taught her at an early age such homemaking skills as sewing, cooking, baking, housecleaning and caring for her younger brothers and sisters.

After graduating from the eighth grade, Imogene  was unable to continue her education, she says, because her parents didn’t have tuition money to send her to high school.

“I wanted to go (to school),” she recalls. Instead, Imogene went to work cleaning and cooking for neighboring families in order to supplement her family’s meager income.

In between jobs, Imogene worked at home. Never in her life did she labor any harder than during one of the “Dust Bowl” summers.

Imogene doesn’t remember seeing any dust clouds on the horizon. She does remember the hot summer air was full of dust, blanketing everything it fell on – both  indoors and outdoors.

“If you had a three-room house and cleaned it, by the time you got through cleaning the third (room), the first one was full of dust (again),” she remembers. “It was terrible.”

Waging war against the  infiltrating dust day after day was a tiresome, thankless job. But working in a sewing plant in nearby Liberty, Mo., during World War II, was not.

“I really enjoyed that,” she says of the two to three years she spent sewing such military items as clothing, barrack bags, wing covers for bombers and more.

Imogene couldn’t recall the name of the plant or where in Liberty it was located.

“That’s been so long ago,” she says. “I can’t remember.”

Imogene doesn’t know why all the fuss about her 100th birthday, which she will observe from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, in Room 118, at The Groves Complex, 1515 W. White Oak St. Friends and acquaintances are invited to attend.

“I don’t know what has been so important in my life, anyway,” she says, “except raising my kids.”

Despite voicing her aggravation about all the rumpus being made about her milestone birthday, Imogene  hopes the party – with all the family present – will be a lot of fun.

“It will be great to see all the family,” she says, “because they are pretty well scattered and I don’t get to see them often.”

Despite being sisters, Imogene and Nell share a commonalty. Both married  brothers. Nell and Henry Jones married first. Imogene and Horace Jones, who met at a church ice-cream social, followed suit on June 9, 1928.

Calling her grandma an excellent bread and jelly maker, Janet Hamilton tells the story of going to Imogene’s Liberty apartment a few years ago for dinner and eating some of her warm, freshly baked bread, topped with homemade jelly.

“That bread and jelly was the best dinner I think I  ever had,” says Janet, who describes her grandmother as  “the greatest.”  “She always has kind words (to say) even when bad things are happening around her.”

Although Imogene has made many changes in her long life, one thing hasn’t changed. She’s  “up and at it” early.

“I just wake up and get going. That is what I was taught to do from the time I was old enough to know what I was doing,” she says, explaining she pushes herself to do a little more each day.

Is that why she’s lived to be a centenarian?

It could be. But when asked her secret for a long life, Imogene thought a moment, then replied: “I think if you live a clean honest life you come out ahead.” She also contributes her longevity to her loving family and her good health.

When asked how long she would like to live, the quick-thinking  centenarian-to-be replied without blinking an eye: “I  think that’s God’s business and I don’t meddle with it. When He calls my name, I’m ready to go.”

Happy Birthday, Imogene!