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Sweet Celebration

City Woman Turning 100, Still Active

Pictured is Ruth Hammond, who turns 100 this year. She has lived a very active and busy life throughout her century on earth, even in her older years. Up until last year, Hammond was able to drive herself around town. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Born in 1921, Ruth Hammond has witnessed events that many only read about in books. The Jamestown woman turns 100 on Saturday.

Some may wonder how she stays so young. “What keeps me young? Walking, I suppose,” Hammond said. “I like to do my own thing. (Before I couldn’t drive) I was running around doing my thing.”

“She’s never been married and is very independent,” her brother, Clair, added. “That’s part of it.”

Hammond enjoys the area because of its small-town feel.

“It’s free. There’s not a lot of people around watching and saying things to you,” Hammond said. “It’s great.”

Pictured are Ruth Hammond (left) and her friend Betty in 1942. The pair are standing in front of the former Harvey and Carey Drug Store at the corner of South Main and Harrison Streets. Hammond used to live with Betty when she moved to Jamestown. Submitted photo

As opposed to her busy younger years, Hammond has had to slow down a little due to her age. That is what has changed the most during her lifetime.

“I can’t move around as quickly as I used to,” she said. “I have to take my time.”

“It bothers her, but that’s true,” her brother added. “She can’t do what she used to do and she has to slow down.”

Although much has changed throughout her long and fulfilling life, some things have remained the same, like knitting.

“My friends have stayed the same,” Hammond said. “They enjoy things for me. That’s the same. I still like to cook, too. I do my own wash and I get dressed up.”

Hammond also shared her thoughts about the life-changing events of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s completely crazy,” she said. “People don’t know enough to stay home and take care of themselves. I stay home and take care of myself.”

To people who strive to live a long and fulfilling life, Hammond said to “relax and do your best.”

“For longevity and a long life, staying active and keeping as low stress as possible (is important),” her brother added.

Hammond was born in Dewittville on June 12, 1921, and moved many times during her childhood. After returning to New York from Sugar Grove in Pennsylvania, Hammond started school at Quail Trap between Ellery Center and West Ellery at the age of 8.

She started school later in her childhood because as the oldest child, her parents preferred her to have family with her in school. She attended school in Dewitville by fourth-grade. The family then moved to Maple Grove before moving back Quail Trap where her youngest brother Clair was born.

Later, the family moved to Maple Springs where Ruth would catch a bus to Bemus Point High School. In 1941, Ruth graduated from Bemus Point at the age of 20. Her adult life was just as busy as her childhood, as she worked many jobs.

It was at her first job in a Mayville hotel when she learned that Peal Harbor was attacked by Japanese planes. While living in Mayville, Hammond would catch a trolley to Bemus Point to visit her parents.

When her parents moved to Stillwater to work at Steel Partitions in Falconer, Ruth was living in Jamestown with her friend Betty. She worked at Harvey and Care Drug Store in both of its Jamestown locations. She took her drug store experience to locations in Olean and Buffalo.

After working in drug stores, Hammond went on to work at a bakery and a dry cleaners pressing satin trim on blankets. Eventually, she found herself in Washington D.C. doing bookkeeping for five loan company offices.

She returned to Jamestown and worked at Nelson’s Department Store during the Christmas season. She ended up doing bookkeeping for the store for the following two years. She left the store to work at the former Flickinger Company for 13 years.

After working there, she worked in accounts payable for Quality Markets, and then found herself working in the tax office at Jamestown City Hall. She continued to find new opportunities, working as a bookkeeper in the Jamestown General Hospital laboratory for two years before it closed.

After working briefly at a Chautauqua Lake boat company, Hammond took a job at Barmore-Sellstrom Inc. for 13 years. She also worked briefly for Meals on Wheels before retiring at the age of 68.

Hammond’s family is having a general get-together on Saturday, June 12, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate her 100th birthday with ice cream and cake. The gathering will take place at Hammond’s house on Lovall Avenue.

“The invitation goes out to anybody,” her brother said. “If they are unable to make it, (feel free) to drive by and honk your horn. It’ll be nice for Ruth to have an acknowledgment like that.”

Beverly Kehe-Rowland contributed to this story.

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