105 and counting….

Published 7:10 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023

‘Bacon and Eggs’ and Twitter are daily part of life for Alice Gammage

Oxford’s most senior citizen began her 106th year last Friday with her regular routine, bacon and eggs for breakfast, reading websites for news and logging into Twitter for stories about her beloved Ole Miss Rebels athletic teams. Later in the day, she made time for a birthday celebration orchestrated by the staff of the Elison.

At 105, Gammage isn’t surprised by much, but the crowd gathered for her birthday and the fully decorated lobby was a bit overwhelming at first sight.

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“I knew my daughters were coming and we had plans, but I didn’t know about all this,” she said, taking in the harp ensemble and the refreshments being served to friends and residents of the facility.

Alice Gamma celebrates her 105th birthday at Elison Assisted Living of Oxford, in Oxford, Miss. on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (©Bruce Newman)

Other than having some difficulty hearing, Gammage has no major health issues and enjoys occasional outings to ride around campus. She is eager to talk with friends and visitors and when asked about her different jobs over the years is quick to name the businesses and years of employment at each.

A graduate of the Mississippi College for Women, she taught home economics at Forest Hill High School in Jackson for a year before leaving for the Mississippi Sanatorium in Magee for three years.

“Back then the sanatorium had a ward for our patients who had children and for children who were not functioning well; I enjoyed my work there,” Gammage recalled.

From there, Gammage moved to Atlanta where she started what turned out to be the favorite job of her life – working as a reservation agent for Delta Airlines. “In those days we controlled all the seats there in Atlanta,” she recalls. “They would send teletype messages asking for reservations and we would have to reply. I was there 12 years and it was a good job, but my husband got transferred to Leland and there was no Delta in Leland.”

With her husband, the late John Gammage, she reared two children in Leland and enjoyed the Delta life of entertaining and taking part in many groups and organizations. Also in Leland were a group of friends who traveled once a year to Europe, trips that she still recalls fondly. It’s one of just a few things that she wishes to do, but is restrained by her age.

“We had some wonderful times, we went to Europe 10 times and always to a different country,” she said. “I went to London twice, but the other trips were all different. We had the best times.”

She only had one trip that disappointed. “Alaska was too primitive for me,” she said.

With one daughter in Leland and another in Oxford, Gammage’s days are filled with visits, emails, phone calls and texts. There are four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, besides a host of cousins, nieces and nephews, all who stay in touch.

She hasn’t felt up to the last few family reunions held each year in the Perdido Key and Orange Beach areas, but gets great support from family and friends, who enjoy her wit and wisdom.

“She has lots of people that love her and she has that iPad that she keeps up with everyone with,” a daughter said. “When we are out people are amazed at her age, and then when they talk to her they are really amazed when they realize she has her full mental capacity.”