DRINK cabbage water – that’s the message from a lady in St Johns if you want to live to a ripe old age. And she should know, as she celebrated her 107th birthday on Monday.
Harriet Constance Barton, fondly known as ‘Connie’, drank lots of the stuff, and ate plenty of apples.
She had four children and survives two, Trish Kett, who works for the British Heart Foundation in Woking, and Eddie Barton who lives in Walton. And she has clocked up five grandchildren as well as six great-grandchildren.
The family threw a party at the Jovial Sailor pub in Ripley on Sunday to celebrate Connie’s 107th birthday, and her great-granddaughter’s 15th.
Connie now lives in The Old Hall residential home in Send where, until recently, she would go on outings to Ascot or to see a pantomime – things she had never previously done.
Trish said: “She loves listening to music – anything popular or modern, really.
She always loved to read and she walked just about everywhere rather than get a lift or a bus. In fact she was still regularly walking two miles to do her shopping when she was in her 90s.
“She also liked dress-making, gardening and good home cooking.”
Born in Leicester in 1906 into a large family of 12 siblings, Connie left school at 14 and went into the hosiery business making garters, armbands to hold up shirt sleeves, and scivers – the clips on braces.
Trish said: “She met my dad, Herbert Charles Barton, through a brother of one of her friend’s. He was in the RAF and they were engaged for seven years. They married in 1930 and spent their 25th anniversary in Paris. They were together for 49 years until my dad died in 1979.”
In the day they had some funny ideas, as Trish explained: “My mum had all her teeth pulled out when she was pregnant at the age of 38. In those days it was believed they took the calcium from the baby.
“But mum was always very healthy and she never had to go into hospital until she broke her hip at the age of 98.”
It seems familiar name terms weren’t for everyone. Trish said: “My mum is cheerful and very polite. She and her neighbour of 40 years always called each other Mrs Cole and Mrs Barton – never first names.
“She had a nice, relaxed nature and never shouted.”
Connie clearly had a good sense of humour too, as Trish explained: “We had a pear tree in the garden which had a molehill beneath it. Dad dug it out and said: ‘We won’t be getting any pears this year’.
“Then a couple of weeks later, a whole lot of big juicy pears suddenly appeared on the tree…
“It turned out my mum had painstakingly tied each one on to the branches!”