Selma “Sammie” Bruce celebrated her 100th birthday Monday at Rehab Select in Albertville.
Bruce credits good food, a lot of love from family and friends and good genes within the family for her long life.
Her mother, Dovey Bishop, lived to be 105, according to family members.
“I have always enjoyed spending time with my son and grandbabies,” Bruce said.
She also enjoys a good plate of dressing with gravy and fruit salad.
“Although I don’t think they have ever made me a fruit salad here,” she mused. “I’ll have to ask for some.”
Born Feb. 10, 1920, Sammie has seen much change and innovation over the years.
In the 1920s alone:
• The 18th amendment was passed creating the era of prohibition. The amendment forbade the manufacture, sale or transport of alcoholic beverages.
• The last American troops returned from Europe and World War I.
• Women won the right to vote.
• A loaf of bread cost 12 cents, a pound of bacon 52 cents, and 5 pounds of sugar cost 97 cents during 1920.
• An acre of land cost an average of $69 depending on the state.
• Vacuums cost $38.95 and washing machines cost $82.
She married Barnard Bruce in 1938 when she was 18. She and her husband welcomed a son, Farrol, in 1944. The trio lived in her husband’s college dorm at Snead College until Barnard graduated.
Barnard died in 1969 and Sammie never dated or remarried, said her great-granddaughter, Ashton Davis.
When Farrol died in 2011, Sammie moved into the nursing home.
Family members, including Sammie’s daughter-in-law, Melissa Walker, visit her often and threw a special birthday party in Sammie’s honor Feb. 8.
“I’m hoping I have those genes,” joked Davis. “Living to be 100 and 105. Amazing.”
Davis said Sammie’s brother, Donald, died in middle age from a heart defect, and an infant sister who died at four months old, also from a heart defect.
“But,” Davis said, “here she is, thriving!”
Davis said she has asked her great-grandmother about her childhood and has in turn heard some amazing stories.
“She would tell me about how she and her family grew up terrified of [Adolph] Hitler,” Davis said. “She was a toddler when women won the right to vote. She was born just eight years after the Titanic [struck an iceberg and sank].”
Davis said from her earliest memories, she and her brother, Adam, would spend time with “Nannie.”
“Every weekend I would spend the night with her and we would stay up all night and talk for hours,” she said. “We would always go to Wendy’s together and get Frostys.”
While Davis never met Barnard, she knew he was her great-grandmother’s one and only love.
“He was her whole heart,” Davis said. “This year would have been their 82nd anniversary. He passed away a year after my father was born, but my Nannie never went on a date after he passed and never wanted to.
“She makes me want to be a better woman and makes me want to be everything that she thinks I am,” she added. “I always get told we look alike, and I take it as such a compliment.”
Davis said hearing the love story Barnard and Sammie shared gives her a lofty goal in life.
“She makes me want to be a great wife,” Davis said. “My first year anniversary is on the 16th. She makes me want to be an even [greater] mother, which I hope to one day become.”
Living in the nursing home gives Sammie security and support.
“She is by herself at the nursing home, and I know she has to get lonely, but you will never hear her complain,” Davis said.