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Lewis celebrates 105th birthday

ERIC J. SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Elidee “Dee Dee” Lewis, 105, right, shares a laugh with Beatrice Gage during her birthday celebration at the Concordia Correctional Hall in Ferriday on Saturday.

FERRIDAY — More than 200 people attended the 105th birthday party for Ferriday resident Elidee “Dee Dee” Lewis Saturday.

Lewis has been permitted to touch many lives since her time on this earth since 1906, she said, whether it is the lives of her five great-grandchildren, the descendants of her nine siblings or the countless people for whom she has sewed clothes.

Family and friends came from as far as California and New York for the celebration.

Lewis said she grew up on her father’s farm on Turkey Lake near Ferriday, picking cotton, shucking corn and milking cows with her eight sisters and her brother.

When she was not at school, she was working on the farm. And since she was the only one who could drive, she was the sister who was in high demand.

Lewis looked out the window of the TV room at Camelot Leisure Living that sits on U.S. 84, and she said she remembers when the whole area was filled with cotton fields and U.S. 84 was a one-lane road.

“There were two stores, Eddie’s and a butcher shop,” Lewis said.

What was sold at Eddie’s? “Everything,” she replied.

Lewis married her late husband, Dave Lewis, in Hammond, La., but eventually came back to Ferriday and raised her son, Shelvey Dunkley.

Her favorite thing to do was also what paid the bills — sewing.

Dunkley said his mother sewed just about anything for everybody.

“If you haven’t got a pattern, bring me a picture and I’ll sew it,” Lewis said.

Dunkley said Lewis once sewed a wedding gown with a 25-foot train for a woman by looking at a picture in a bridal magazine.

Lewis worked sewing costumes in California for two years before she married.

Like Ludwig van Beethoven and the piano, Dunkley said his mother picked up sewing immediately, without having to be taught.

Up until three years ago, when Lewis was 102 years old, she was still running her sewing business out of her house and worked four hours a day, Dunkley said.

Dunkley, 75, said he knows he is lucky to have his mother around today, and he shows it by visiting her 2 or 3 times a day.

“I am fortunate, and I thank God for that,” he said.

Lewis gave advice to others for how to live a long, healthy life, like she has.

“Don’t go eating everything, and take care of yourself,” she said.

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