When Mary Olive Bush Powell made her debut in the world on September 25, 1917, the telephone was in very few homes.
There was no rotary dial. People would pick up the receiver and tell the local operator with whom they wished to speak. The local operator was the source of gossip and news, the Twitter of the time.
Men would gather to discuss everything at the local barbershop. This was the hub of social networking at the time or that age’s Facebook.
Outhouses were in use for most in the Cornfield. Potbelly stoves, burning coal, provided warmth. Hand-held fans provided relief from the heat.
Mary Olive’s father, Jim Bush, was the local barber in Helmsburg, nestled in the beauty of the hills of Brown County, Indiana. Jim aka Great-Grandpa Bush was the barber there for over 60 years.
Grandpa Bush was also one of a few renown artists capturing the beauty of Brown County on canvas.
Mary Olive lost her mother shortly after the birth of her younger brother, Jimmy, who is now deceased. Her older sister, Dorothy, who passed on too soon, helped Grandpa raise Mary Olive and Jimmy.
I recall listening in awe Grandma talking about having met and hinting that she had gone on a date or at least took a ride with the infamous gangster, John Dillinger, who hailed from a nearby county. But it was the brash, handsome oldest son of Postmaster Ancil Powell, who caught her eye and heart.
She and Luther Crockett Powell wed. The couple soon had a daughter, Sharon Lynn (Mom). A few years later came along Allen (now deceased) and few more years came Nancy.
Life change dramatically one night when the couple with Mom in tow attended a revival at Greasy Creek Church. The couple met Jesus. Grandma, Mary Olive, has never wavered or turned from her commitment that night.
For over half a century, Grandma was a preacher’s wife. Pastorates took her and her family throughout Indiana to West Virginia, Ohio and Illinois, including to two stints at the Church of God right here in Sullivan.
Many say it is the famous Bush stubborness that has allowed her to reach the young age of 100. That stubborness and determination can plainly be seen looking back at when she received her driver’s liceense in her 60s.
Shortly after receiving her license, she and Grandpa went their separate ways. Grandma never remarried.
Grandma continued to drive until finally being convinced to give up her car a little over a decade ago. Though her big day is not until tomorrow, the family is celebrating her life today at the community room in her apartment building.
Grandma continues to live alone, in her own apartment. Daughters Sharon and Nancy, her granddaughters – especially Michelle – and Bill help attend to her needs each day.