Evelyn Alexander of Decatur turns 100 on Sunday, July 23, and that big birthday doesn’t seem to faze her in the least. She lives by herself in an immaculate house where, dressed in a pink suit and matching shoes, she welcomed the AJT for a chat.
AJT: How long have you been here?
Alexander: In Atlanta, 58 years. We moved from Kentucky. We sold our house (in Morningside) when the children got married and moved out. Didn’t need a big house, so we got this place, and it’s been 30 years.
AJT: You must know people in the neighborhood.
Alexander: I have lovely neighbors. I’ve made friends here, yes, but at my age you lose them. So I’m down to maybe one or two. It doesn’t bother me living alone. I have a burglar alarm.
AJT: You have family nearby, right?
Alexander: I have two sons, three grandsons and five great-grandchildren, and two wonderful daughters-in-law. Both of them are lovely. I have one sister-in-law left, and a nephew in Florida.
AJT: How is your health?
Alexander: I’ve nothing important like a bad heart or something like that. I’m OK. I’m on medications, of course; at my age it’s bound to happen. But other than that, I’m physically OK. I don’t see very well, and I don’t hear very well.
AJT: You stay pretty busy, don’t you?
Alexander: Mah-jongg keeps me alert. I like opera. I read historical novels and modern ones from the best-seller list like Grisham, Baldacci, and, if I have to, Danielle Steel. She’s so mushy! Nora Roberts is pretty good. I’m past the stage where I read older books. I still get the newspaper, which I read with a bright light and a magnifying glass. I watch a little TV for the news; it could do with a little improving! I belong to a garden club, where I served as president twice. I have pots and concrete planters on the front porch. That’s the extent of my gardening.
AJT: Where did you grow up?
Alexander: In Brooklyn. Haven’t lost my accent yet! Lived in Kentucky 10 years, California a year and Michigan a year. We moved around. My husband sold insurance. I don’t travel anymore but I did a lot in my day.
AJT: Tell us about your husband.
Alexander: Frank was tall, 6-1. When he had hair, it was red. Terrific sense of humor, and he never met a stranger. We were married 71 years. But he’s been gone seven years now. Met him on a blind date, my one and only blind date, and believe me, I was blind because I took my glasses off.
AJT: What sort of work did you do?
Alexander: I retired from Georgia Power. It’s been 30 years already. I was in customer service with what I call girls, but they were women. Most of them were black. We all got along beautifully. They called me the ‘office white.’ That was when black employees won a discrimination suit against the power company. They had to rehire anyone who wanted to come back and work for them. We’re still in touch with one another. They always treat me lovely. They are taking me out for my birthday, so I’m meeting them next week.
AJT: What else are you doing for your 100th birthday?
Alexander: My family is giving me a birthday party with old friends and people that I’ve known over the years. We’re going to eat.