Orange, Greenfield residents celebrate 100 years 

  • Family, friends and local first responders celebrated Winifred Callahan's 100th birthday on Saturday with a drive-by birthday parade past her Greenfield home on Pray Drive. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • Family, friends and local first responders celebrated Winifred Callahan's 100th birthday on Saturday with a drive-by birthday parade past her Greenfield home on Pray Drive. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • Family, friends and local first responders celebrated Winifred Callahan's 100th birthday on Saturday with a drive-by birthday parade past her Greenfield home on Pray Drive. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • Family and friends celebrated the 100th birthday of Dorene McCobb of Orange, who turned 100 on May 14, with a drive-by birthday parade on Saturday. She received a pin in recognition of receiving the Boston Post Cane, a tradition established in 1909 by the Boston Post to honor each town’s eldest resident. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • Family and friends celebrated the 100th birthday of Dorene McCobb, of Orange, who turned 100 on May 14, with a drive-by birthday parade on Saturday. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • Family and friends celebrated the 100th birthday of Dorene McCobb of Orange, who turned 100 on May 14, with a drive-by birthday parade on Saturday. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/17/2020 12:29:55 PM
Modified: 5/17/2020 12:29:54 PM

Not one, but two Franklin County residents celebrated their 100th birthdays on Saturday.

Winifred Callahan and Dorene McCobb celebrated 100 years with car parades in their honor in Greenfield and Orange, respectively.

Callahan turned 100 on Saturday. She was born on May 16, 1920.

“I can’t believe it,” Callahan said, caught by surprise at the show of police, fire, family and friends who drove by her home on Pray Drive in Greenfield. “One hundred years. What a day.”

The car parade was a surprise organized by her great-granddaughter, Kelsey O’Brien, also of Greenfield, in lieu of a party that was canceled as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We were supposed to have a big party for her, and obviously now we can’t because of what’s going on,” O’Brien said. “But we still wanted to celebrate her.”

Callahan’s daughter, Pat Clary, said Callahan was just expecting O’Brien to drive by to wish her a happy birthday.

“Her family is everything to her,” Cleary said. “Seeing her family was important and being around them was important. She’s a very sociable person. She loves life and people.”

Clary said Callahan’s close relationship with her family, her involvement in the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the weekly coffee hours she used to host with friends are what have kept her mother young.

Just a few hours after the car parade in Greenfield, the town of Orange celebrated McCobb’s 100th birthday with a drive-by parade led by the Orange Police Department and followed by a number of area police departments, family, friends and community members of the Orange resident. The North Quabbin Cruisers also joined the parade with a show of antique cars.

The parade processed past the home of McCobb’s daughter, Elaine Guertin, where McCobb was waiting with balloons and flowers, her two daughters, and their families.

“It was a complete surprise,” McCobb said. “I don’t know how they kept it from me.”

McCobb, who was born on May 14, 1920, has lived her entire life in Orange. She moved to her home on Logan Avenue about 80 years ago with her late husband, Ralph McCobb. There, they raised their daughters, Guertin and Diane Gori of Boxford.

Her husband died in 2000, after 60 years of marriage.

Following the parade, McCobb was recognized by town officials as the oldest resident of Orange. She received a pin in recognition of receiving the Boston Post Cane, a tradition established in 1909 by the Boston Post to honor each town’s eldest resident.

It was the same award she remembers her grandparents receiving.

The family originally planned to celebrate the matriarch’s birthday with an open-house reception for anyone to attend.

“We did the next best thing,” said Guertin.

Gori reflected on the historical events of the last century, from the early stages of flight to launching rockets into outer space. McCobb recalled the polio scare in the 1950s, and the days her youngest daughter was forced to quarantine in a local hospital for fear she had contracted the virus, though it turned out she hadn’t.

“She’s lived to see all of those things,” Gori said.

McCobb is still active in her church, goes on daily walks, and, up until last year, went on tubing trips with her family. She plans to go this year, too.

“I want to enjoy my life,” she said.

And like Callahan in Greenfield, McCobb has always been close with her family — that, too, she said, has kept her young. In fact, McCobb grew up surrounded by family who lived nearby, sometimes even on the same road.

But for all the years she’s lived, McCobb said she still feels young.

After all, she said, age is just a number.

“You’re only as old as you feel,” she said. “And I don’t feel old.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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