At 100, Schrimshire’s off to a new adventure

Published 12:01 am Thursday, July 14, 2011

The story of Felma Schrimshire’s life reads something like an adventure novel.

The current Ms. Andalusia Manor, Schrimshire, 100, will continue the adventure later this month when she participates in the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant at the Wynfrey in Birmingham.

Felma Schrimshire, 100, will represent Andalusia Manor in the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant on July 25. | Courtesy photo

A Covington County native, Schrimshire left home after high school to study nursing in Central Florida.

“I then left Florida and moved to Georgia where I met my husband, who was a textile engineer,” she said.

“During World War II, my husband and I decided to join the Army. Well, when we went to sign up, they sent us to separate places.

“When I finished, I went to find my husband and, much to my surprise, he didn’t get accepted due to his eye sight. There I was going into the Army by myself.”

Mrs. Schrimshire did her basic training in Daytona, Fla., and then was stationed in Mississippi computing payroll.

“That was so long ago, that I had to use a pen that I dipped in an ink bottle to get it to write,” she said. “Not many women were in the Army back then, so much to my husband’s relief, I got out after one year.”

After her husband’s death, she moved to Mobile, where she worked with the civil service at Brookley Field. Later, she moved to Montgomery for a job with the flight surgeon’s office and retired there.

While living in Mobile, she met a friend, Camile Reaves, who became as close as a sister. Together, they traveled the world, visiting all 50 states and every providence of Canada, as well as England, France, Switzerland, Germany and Holland.

“There were so many things that I was interested in learning more about, such as how they make wooden shoes and how flowers were shipped,” she sad. “Many things that I had always had a desire to do and see, I got to experience during my years traveling.”

As a little girl, she wanted to be a Sunday school teacher. After completing a course with the Baptist Association, she became a teacher at age 12, and continued teaching for 78 years.

Visiting the Holy Land was among her most memorable experiences.

“I got the chance to actually walk where Jesus had walked,” she said. “I visited the Garden of Gethsemane and also go to go where Jesus was tried before his death and resurrection.

“The most impressive place I visited while there was the Place of the Skull where Jesus was crucified,” she said.

While she no longer teaches Sunday school, she still enjoys participating in Bible study, which is her favorite activity at Andalusia Manor.

She is legally blind, but still reads her Bible daily with the assistance of a machine that enlarges the text.

She also socializes with other residents every day.

“I look forward to all the parties and games,” she said.

“My sister is in the nursing home so we attend all the parties together. Since I can’t see very well, she describes all the decorations in detail to me. It is always so beautiful!”

She said she tries to greet each resident with a smile every day.

“I love to be around the other residents and socialize with them,” she said.

When she was 76, she moved home to Covington County to take care of her mother, caring for her until her death.

Looking back on the past 100 years, she said one of the funniest stories about her happened many years ago, and is the only time in her life when she was spanked.

“My mother never whipped me but once,” she said. “We were disciplined by verbal counseling and being explained to what we did wrong.

“We grew up on a farm and my daddy came home from work early one day,” she said.

“The car was still warm so I could easily crank it back up. It was one of the first cars made.

“I loaded three of my sisters up, even the 8-month-old, and decided to take them for a ride,” she said.

“The funny thing is, I was only 12 years old! I wasn’t supposed to be driving.”

Her mother was waiting when Mrs. Schrimshire brought her sisters back.

“She got me out of that car and spanked me good,” she said.

“I had a good life growing up,” she said. “We didn’t have everything, but we had everything we needed.”

She was among the 10 finalists in the state to be selected from a field of 74 for participation in the 2011 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant.

“Our facility has never won, so I would love to win and make everyone proud,” she said.