Martha Meeks Brown’s 104th birthday is fast approaching and she has been told she holds the record for oldest independent resident at Parkway Village.
“God, I guess, has just been good to me. I’ve always tried to live a clean, good life,” says Brown. ” I’ve been busy. Really busy. I think you have to do this.
Brown dismisses suggestions that she is hiring someone to help her with more than just household chores. She walks to the Parkway Village dining room for lunch and dinner most days, and she does her own laundry in the building’s facilities.
“All you have to do is push a button, but I have to go there to do it, and if I had someone here I would do it and I would sit down,” she said. . “If you do this, then you can’t move.”
Brown grew up on Schiller Street in Little Rock and witnessed construction near Little Rock High School, now Central High, in 1927. She recalls seeing women wearing matching hats, high heels and gloves arrive for the Razorback games played in what is now Quigley Stadium. .
“We went to Immanuel Baptist Church, which was not too far away – it was there on Bishop Street,” she said. “I have always been in the church. I have been at Emmanuel for 104 years.”
She remembers seeing the old Immanuel building burn down as a teenager and taking Sunday School classes at a temporary location at Westside Junior High.
She walked to school and returned home every noon for lunch, but her earliest memory is riding in her family’s Model T Ford to visit her grandparents in Whelen Springs.
Bad road conditions resulted in frequent punctures and his father had to stop, fix the tire, then crank the front of the car to restart the engine so they could get back on the road.
When Brown graduated from high school in 1934, the Great Depression was on and college was out of the question.
“I got a job and had to take the Schiller streetcar downtown,” says Brown. “It was with an advertising agency. I was paid $ 5 a week. I just worked there for a few weeks.”
A deacon from his church recruited her to work for him at the Magnolia Oil Company.
“It was a really good job and I was secretary to the chief clerk,” says Brown. “I worked there for three years, then I married my childhood sweetheart. At that time, you won’t believe it, but they weren’t hiring married women. They only hired single women. . “
She and the late Charles W. Brown exchanged vows on July 2, 1939, in Emmanuel’s Sanctuary.
He had gone to college for two years, she said, and had a good job selling tobacco and cigarettes. He was making $ 22 a week and had a company car and an expense account.
She and Charles were still young married when her mother passed away. Because his father traveled a lot with his railroad job, they welcomed his younger brother and sister to their home.
“My sister was 12 or 13 at the time and my brother had been drafted into the service, but then he came back from there and lived with me until he got married,” she says. “He was missing in action for a while. He was in the Air Corps and he was a prisoner of Germany for a while and he escaped and went to Italy and they brought him home. . “
She and Charles built a house on Evergreen Drive, around the same time construction on Williams Elementary began. Charles then sold heavy equipment.
“He brought a big piece of gear and drove that day to 7000 Evergreen, down that boulder,” she said.
When their own two children – Winston and Donie – started high school, Brown went to work as the principal’s secretary at Hall High.
Brown was born in 1917.
“I was vaccinated against smallpox at the age of 6 months on the upper part of my leg, and I have a very big scar from it,” says Brown, who also survived the Spanish flu and polio pandemics. . “When I was a kid, every time you got a disease, like diphtheria, mumps, whatever it was, the health ministry would come to your house and put up a big cardboard poster and it would say everything. that you had and you were quarantined. No one could come into your house and you couldn’t get out. “
Brown moved to Parkway Village 16 years ago, shortly after he began to lose his eyesight due to macular degeneration.
Over the years, she has enjoyed playing bridge, volunteering at Emmanuel, and most recently listening to the Bible.
“I listened to three tapes of it by different people,” she says.
Brown turned to the scriptures for comfort following the 2017 death of his then 74-year-old daughter, Donie Brown Harrison.
“I live according to Proverbs: 3, 5 and 6,” she said. “I was like, ‘I can’t get over this,’ but I just said these verses over and over and it helped me.”
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