Centenarian remembers life, looks to 103rd year

Published 12:20 pm Monday, February 29, 2016

JONATHAN ROWE | DAILY NEWS AN ELDER AMONG US: Mrs. Fanny Blount, who will celebrate her 103rd year on March 15, has lived a long life of faith in God, work and raising people’s children.

AN ELDER AMONG US: Mrs. Fanny Blount, who will celebrate her 103rd year on March 15, has lived a long life of faith in God, work and raising people’s children.

Fanny Blount has seen much in her life. From her birth in Blounts Creek to her current residence in Washington, her 102 years have been filled with work, raising children and a strong faith in God. On March 15, Blount will celebrate her 103rd year, a milestone many do not have the pleasure of celebrating.

Blount lived in Blounts Creek for almost the first decade of her life, where she attended Claybottom School with other African American children, she said. She moved to Kinston with her family, only to return to Blounts Creek around the age of 15 after her parents passed away.

At that time, Blount believed she had to take care of herself and began working on farms and as a nanny, raising children, she said.

“My mother and father died when I was young, and I got old enough to work,” Blount said. “I just worked and took care of myself. I haven’t done nothing but move from one place to another and tend to other people’s babies. I raised near about everyone’s babies in Washington.”

The first car she ever remembers seeing on the road is her uncle’s A-Model Ford. She remembers most people traveling by horse and buggy or by foot; she remembers frequently sewing and making her own clothes. She also remembers her mother cooking big meals of a little bit of everything: rice, potatoes, black eyed peas, collards, salt pork, biscuits from scratch, cornbread, chicken and many other items for the table, Blount said.

Though many would think someone who has lived as long as Blount, an African American woman, would have experienced much persecution over the years, Blount says that, for the most part, whites and blacks got along. In fact, she was loved and held highly among the families in which she worked for, raising their children and serving as a nanny, of sorts.

Blount does, however, remember when blacks had to eat separately from whites. It was almost as if whites and blacks lived two separate lives in those days, according to Helma Witchet, a Blounts Creek native who researches centenarians in the area.

Witchet said that kind of relationship was common in the southeastern United States. Blacks were accepted, and in many cases, loved by the families they worked for, but whites rarely associated with them outside of the homes in which they worked.

“In the South, you’ll find a lot of that is true,” Witchet said with regard to how Blount was viewed by the families she worked for. “She was accepted in the home as caretaker and maid. She was admired, I’m sure. There were little incidents (between whites and blacks), but for the most part, there were two separate lives. You’d go to work and work, and all your social activities were totally separated in the black community. My mother used to do housework, too. She was very much accepted; that’s the way it was. They were in love with those nursemaids and nannies. It was a different type of relationship.”

One child, in particular, Blount raised was a small white boy, Earl Scherer, whom she became very close with and still lives with to this day. After Blount got married in 1936, she lived with her husband in Grimesland, where she met Scherer.

“His mother used to put him out when he was little, and he would walk up and down the road,” Blount said. “I partly raised him. He would go to my house and eat, sleep and play with my son. In a way, he means a lot to me because he was little when I started taking care of him, and I fell in love with him as a child of my own. He’s been that way ever since.”

Scherer said he has known Blount for around 70 years now and couldn’t have asked for a better mother figure in his life.

“She’s been a sweet, nice lady,” Scherer said. “She’s been like a mother to me. It’s been a wonderful thing living with her. I’m not prejudice, and nobody has ever bothered us about us living together — black and white getting along like mother and son.”

“They don’t have a right to say anything,” Blount added.

“And that’s the way it should be,” Witchet said. “(Scherer) is very protective of her. They have a great relationship. They really get along well. They really do.”

After a lifetime of working, finally stopping while in her 90s, Blount now spends her days relaxing and enjoying life. She talks to relatives over the phone, watches television and remains strong in her faith in God.

“I love God,” Blount said. “I love church. I just pray and trust the Lord, and I thank Him for keeping me here as long as I have. (To the younger generations), pray and serve the Lord and take care of your own self. That’s what I did. I took care of my own self and worked. I didn’t sit down and wait for someone to hand me something. I worked for what I got.”

As for her life with Scherer, they really do have a great relationship. They joke with one another and have an unprecedented harmonious relationship, considering the thought processes of most from their time, but their home is one of love and acceptance. And in around two weeks from now, the two will celebrate Mrs. Fanny Blount’s 103rd year on this earth.