Sunday, February 1, 2004

Indiana woman to celebrate 106

Good Things Happening

Allen Howard

Myrtle Fondong is probably one of few women left who was born in the 1800s and can recall her childhood days living in a rural area during an era far different than today.

Fondong, who grew up in the vicinity of Duilford and St. Leone in Indiana, is approaching 106 years old and plans to celebrate with friends and family on Wednesday at the Woodland Hills Care Center near Bright, Ind., where she lives.

On better days, when her hearing is good, she likes to talk about milking cows, churning milk to make butter and riding a horse to school.

[IMAGE] Norma Fox will help her mother, Myrtle Fondong, celebrate her 106th birthday on Wednesday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
Fondong was part of a generation whose childhood involved daily chores, some of them pretty tedious.

One chore was gathering up eggs and riding a wagon to Lawrenceburg on Saturdays to peddle them with her father, said her daughter, Norma Fox of Duilford. "She started making her own clothes when she was very young. She was an only child,'' Fox said.

Fondong continued to sew, knit and crochet until she was over 100 years old.

"She was still going with me to help do her own shopping when she was about 103 years old,'' Fox said. "She has always been very particular about her hair and her clothes. Even now I try to fix her hair every day because I know that is what she wants.''

Fox, who is an only child, said Fondong has lived an extremely active life and was always known as being talkative and outgoing.

"I think not being able to be as active as she was bores her. She doesn't like television, and most of (her) day is spent just sitting,'' Fox said.

Fox said her mother lived at home until she broke her pelvis a year ago and moved into the nursing home.

Courtroom legend to speak

A piece of live black history will be part of the Heart-to-Heart Racial Justice Breakfast on Feb. 13 at the Montgomery Inn Banquet Center, 601 E. Pete Rose Way, downtown.

Fred D. Gray, a legend in the courtroom who represented Freedom Riders - those who took part in the Selma-to-Montgomery marches and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama - will speak at the breakfast.

Gray grew up in Montgomery and left Alabama in 1951 to attend what is now Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, from which he graduated in 1954. He returned to Montgomery just in time to get involved in the bus boycott in 1955.

Gray will talk about his courtroom experiences.

The breakfast will be 7:30-9:30 a.m. It is presented by the YWCA and the Cincinnati Bar Association and underwritten by Baker & Hostetler, Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Bar Association's Women Lawyers Committee and Debra D. Rothstein, a legal aid lawyer.

Faith Matters

SILVERTON - God's Provisions Christian Resource Center will be honoring Black History Month with faith in mind.

The center and bookstore will host a series of free workshops on Fridays this month at 7 p.m. on the topic, "Exploring Biblical Black History."

"It seems like there are so many issues in the Body of Christ among the races and divisions. The more insight we can gain, the more wisdom we can generate - we can create some unity," said Marsha Ogletree, co-owner of God's Provisions.

The first and third workshops will be an open forum and Bible study discussing issues ranging from Africans in the Bible to Jesus' ethnicity.

"I really want to challenge people and push them to reach out and find answers for themselves," Ogletree said. "These subjects are often not touched in church."

The Rev. Cephas Nyemba, pastor of the Christian Family Tabernacle in Walnut Hills and author of Power to Quit, a biblical perspective on smoking, will speak Feb. 13 on African customs and Christianity.

"Among black people in the U.S. and other parts of the world, there's a mixture of culture that's both African and Christian, and that can be problematic," said Nyemba, who is from Zimbabwe. "There are some African customs that are Satanic and ritualistic and not Christian."

The Rev. William Davis Sr. of Calvary United Methodist Church in Evanston will speak Feb. 27 on the history of black churches in Cincinnati.

For more information on the series of workshops, call God's Provisions at 794-0079.

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