Most of us dream about living a long life. For Frances Mehaffey that dream is reality. At over 101 years young, Frances still enjoys a busy life. This amazing woman has a quick sense of humor and enjoys sharing stories of life as it used to be.
Frances Hartley was born in October, 1914 in Cambridge, Ohio at her parents’ home near Garfield School. Her mother told her the children were singing and playing “London Bridge” on the playground at the time of Frances’ birth. She has been entertaining others with music ever since.
While she never liked dolls, she remembered a swing and a wagon her father bought her when she was a child. The family moved often. When they lived next door to an early oil well in the county, Frances decided she would use a stick to drill her own oil wells in the dirt. She has been busy all of her life.
With three children, her parents also stayed busy. Father drove a horse and buggy to deliver mail in the summer time, and rode horseback in the winter. Mother gave piano lessons after studying music at Mt. Union. Frances learned to play piano and organ.
When Frances was ten, the family moved back to Cambridge where several ladies wanted her to cut and set their hair. She walked from house to house after school doing something that came to her naturally…without ever going to beauty college.
She graduated from Cambridge Brown High School in 1933. Her current beauty license, which she received in 1934, is the oldest in the state. She was honored by the State of Ohio Board of Cosmetology with a reception and proclamation of “Frances H. Mehaffey Day” on December 10, 2014.
Frances opened her first salon in the back of her father’s wallpaper store, followed by one over the old Strand Theater. She then opened the “Town and Country”, which she operated until a few years ago, and a second salon in Quaker City for several years. That’s over 90 years of making ladies beautiful!
John and Frances Mehaffey eloped to Wellsburg, WV in 1937, but no one knew they were married for several. months. When they moved to the country, their first home had no electricity, a hand pump outside for water, and an outdoor toilet. How life has changed.
While she was too busy to travel often, she remembers one trip to Texas where they stood in line all day long to watch part of the Lee Harvey Oswald trial.
While raising their three children and operating her beauty salons, Frances planned and wrote scripts for PTA programs, started the cafeteria at Pike School and helped start the Cassell Station Fire Department. Square dancing, Buggy Wheel Riding Club, and the Organ Club added enjoyment to her busy life.
Later she formed and wrote the theme song for the “Kitchen Kuties”, who performed for many organizations. Over a cup of coffee during this visit, Frances broke into song singing, “We are the Kitchen Kuties…” Watching TV and reading books are not high on her list even today
Frances and John helped Bob Jonard get the Lions Club Minstrel started back in 1973. That first year she helped organize the musical performances and write the program. She headed makeup for the Minstrels for 39 years. Althought Frances stopped singing in the chorus a couple years ago, she still attends the Lions Club Shows and enjoys them thoroughly.
She even attends the Afterglow following the show. This year it was held on the second floor of a local club, but that didn’t stop Frances. She climbed those stairs better than some that are in the chorus today. When asked how she could still climb steps so well, she matter-of-factly remarked, “When I was 93, I had both knees replaced and I’ve been able to climb stairs ever since.”
You might wonder what her secret is for being a centenarian. Frances will only say that she worked hard all of her life. She never smoked or drank, takes a daily vitamin but only two prescription medications, and attends First Methodist Church in Cambridge each Sunday. Although she no longer drives, Frances renewed her driver’s license on her 100th birthday.
When she was asked about working so hard throughout life, Frances responded with a powerful bit of advice for everyone, “If you don’t, you waste it. You don’t want to waste life.”