Mama Teen finds ‘family’ in neighborhood

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 1999

Jesteen B. McIntyre may not have blood relatives in Natchez, but she has lots of family here. Aunt ‘Teen to the adults in the neighborhood or Mama ‘Teen to the children, McIntyre just celebrated her 93rd birthday on Thursday.

A native of Fort Adams, McIntyre married her husband Felix and moved to Natchez long ago.

&uot;I know I was here in the 40s,&uot; she said. Best neighborhood estimates are that McIntyre has lived in her current location about 58 years.

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Now a widow, McIntyre’s daughter lives in San Francisco and her son has since died. Her grandchildren live in Chicago and San Francisco.

Despite the distance of her immediate family, McIntyre is anything but lonely. Her neighborhood family sees to that.

Nine-year-old neighbor Branson White is a frequent visitor at McIntyre’s, along with many other neighborhood children.

&uot;I come over all the time,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s like home to me.&uot;

What causes the whole neighborhood to flock to McIntyre?

&uot;No one is ever too low or too high to her,&uot; neighbor Jesse Williams said. &uot;This house has always been one of the most elegant in the neighborhood, but the door has always been open.&uot;

Another quality that attracts people to McIntyre is her generosity of time and resources.

&uot;Aunt ‘Teen has always been very active in local charities,&uot; said Williams.

&uot;She was involved with the Colored Children’s Christmas Tree way back when it was called that. She got involved to make sure that children would have a good Christmas,&uot; she said.

A civic leadership award from the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hangs on her wall, dated Oct. 7, 1989.

Another award hangs just as prominently on the wall: the oldest mother award from Zion Chapel A.M.E. Church dated 1998.

McIntyre attributes her longevity to staying active for others.

&uot;She gets up early every morning, eats balanced meals, keeps an immaculate house, and always gives to those in need,&uot; said Williams.