April 3, 2014
all my life’
The father of 17 children received a surprise party from family and friends on his 100th birthday March 21.
He enjoyed an interview from Rust College TV, a visit by Mayor Kelvin Buck, and lots more attention.
John Alexander, who lives at Holly View Apartments on Highway 178 West, has lived a full life and has a sharp mind. He remembers the lyrics to songs he sung to keep himself in a happy mood many years ago.
He likes his president, Barack Obama, and said he believes there will be changes in America after the next election, no matter who is elected president.
Alexander was born March 21, 1914, in Marshall County, the fifth child to the late Freeland and Maggie Holloway Alexander. His siblings are all deceased and include the late Henry and Jesse Alexander, Ora Shead, Hattie Bowman and Alfreeda Pegues.
Alexander was married to Ada Mae Norfleet, who died in 1993. They lived in the Chulahoma, Byhalia and Holly Springs areas, according to his daughter, Maggie Daniel.
In his interview with Wayne Fiddis of Rust, Alexander said he helped dress cows and ate pork and other meats. He attributes his longevity to eating right – lots of vegetables.
He also broke horses and mules for a living and was thrown twice.
He has lived in Marshall County for 90 of his 100 years and retired as a farmer at age 84. His father taught him carpentry as well as other skills.
He said he has always been outspoken and never afraid to say what he wanted to say.
“I’ve been a person since I’ve been a man. I spoke what I wanted to speak,” he said.
He dealt with threats by standing up to the person who made them.
“I ain’t never been scared to die,” Alexander said. “I always spoke my mind. I’ve enjoyed all of my life. I could go to a bank and tell them what I wanted and I got it.
“I haven’t suffered for nothing these 100 years. I’ve had a good time.”
Alexander said he sits and thinks about the future of the United States after he is gone.
“I sit and think of things and I see them just as clear as I see you,” he said. “Obama is doing the best he can. When he goes out (of office) there’s going to be a mess here in the United States. It does not matter who is president, it is going to be a mess. I’m glad I’m 100 years old. I am going to be out of the way. I’ve seen a lot of changes, but the biggest changes are to come.
“If the president is a white or a colored, there is going to be a war here in the United States. We are going back where we’ve been. The Democrats and Republicans are going to fight one another. I hope not. When my time to go comes, I hope things will be alright. You are coming under me. I hope you enjoy your life like I’ve enjoyed mine.”
Mayor Buck, after pinning an American flag on Alexander’s lapel, thanked him for laying the groundwork for others who followed.
“It is because of generations like this, we are able to enjoy the life we have today,” he said. “It was their sweat, their work and sometimes their lives (that brought freedom to African Americans). After 100 years of living on this earth, it is not enough just to recognize you are here. It gives me great pleasure to pin on this flag for your 100 years of dedication. You are a national treasure, a national hero. Your generation is also a hero for us.”
Alexander thanked the mayor and guests for helping celebrate his 100th birthday.
“I hope you all will make it as far as I have made it,” he said. “I feel alone. I can’t find nobody my age. I have seen and heard everything you all have heard, but you all have not seen everything I’ve seen and heard.”
Alexander said his earliest memory is at age 3 when Rev. Cunningham (forebear of Judge Earnest Cunningham) cut cane and made molasses on land below his house.
Daniel said family from four states came to the birthday party. Relatives attending the birthday party included those living in Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
At Alexander’s 95 birthday party in 2009, he had 17 children, 66 grands, 91 great-grands and 17 great-great-grands, Daniel said.
The education level of his children includes master’s degrees. Some professions they have chosen include social workers, counselor, nurse, teacher, ministers, truck drivers, hospitality, retail and sales, and service and industrial workers.
The 14 children of John and Ada Mae Alexander include Jessie Patterson, Norfleet Alexander, Willie and John Alexander (both deceased), Alfreeda Smith, Virginia Steels, Mary McGowan, Maggie Daniel, Dennis Alexander, Effie Renfro, Rosie Glave, Linda Hodges (deceased), and Starling and James Alexander. In addition, he is the father of Walter Isom, Lonzie Isom (deceased) and Ella McFadden.
“Lord, Give Me Time” as sung by John Alexander:
“I’ve been in a storm so
long, just trying to get home
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