08/22/04 — Relatives reminisce as Goldsboro woman nears 104th birthday

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Relatives reminisce as Goldsboro woman nears 104th birthday

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 22, 2004 2:06 AM

Catherine Davis of Golds-boro is turning 104 today.

Mrs. Davis doesn't talk unless she takes a notion, says Freeman Aldridge, one of her nephews.

"When you get old, you don't talk much. I don't think I'll talk a lot when I'm old," said Aldridge, who was 72 in April.

His aunt lived independently for years in Dudley before going to a nursing home in Goldsboro. She grew up in Dudley, the baby in the family.

Though small in stature, at 5 feet tall, family members say she's very proud and outspoken.

In her younger years, she would always come up with some odd saying that would make everyone laugh, said another nephew, Len Henderson.

One of her favorite sayings was, "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

"Her greatest loves were shopping at the Flea Market at the Wayne County Fairgrounds on Saturday, shopping at Winn-Dixie or Heilig-Meyers and talking about her family," added Henderson.

But there were two things that she was afraid of, and they were snakes and worms.

Henderson says Mrs. Davis, whom he calls Aunt Catherine, was responsible for raising his baby brother, Monte, who was a year old at their mother's death.

"She did not let anyone bother her Booboo, as she called him. She raised him until he was 6 years old and began school," he said. "She taught us Henderson children the virtues of hard work, family and generosity. She could always be found working in her garden or maintaining the family cemetery."

Her brother, Dr. Thomas Aldridge, had purchased 36 acres near the Wayne County Fairgrounds. He used an acre for a family cemetery. He had his parents and other relatives' bodies exhumed from the previous Aldridge cemetery and placed in this cemetery.

"The cemetery was down a short path from Aunt Catherine's house," said Henderson. "During the heat of the summer, Aunt Catherine could either be found crocheting curtains and dollies or harvesting the vegetables from her garden."

Mrs. Davis was well known in the community for her green thumb and delicious vegetables. Any time any of her brothers or sisters came from Washington, D.C., for a visit, she would always load them down with vegetables she had grown.

She married Reddick Davis, who was from Wilson. They moved to New York and had a son, George Elrey, who died in the early 1960s. Two of her sisters, Frances and Beulah, lived in New York and later moved back to North Carolina.

"Aunt Catherine always told me the story of how her grandfather, Adam Artis, from the Fremont-Stantonsburg area, would put her on his shoulder, and they would trample through the fields and woods," said Henderson. "Aunt Catherine had always said her grandfather had blessed her and always told her she would live to be 104."