Centenarian celebration

It is not the party or the white cake that a soon-to-be-100-year-old woman is most looking forward to for her upcoming birthday. It is the togetherness of family both near and far that has her excited.

LaRaine Smith, born Aug. 29, 1913, is the youngest of six children in her family, with two brothers and three sisters.

The Williamsport resident married Raymond Smith and had nine children of her own, but raised 17 children altogether.

Now she has so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren stopping in to see her, she can’t even count them.

Yet she also has some family members who live elsewhere who will be sharing her special day with her.

Smith has spent much of her life around the county. She’s lived in Williamsport, Montoursville and Farragut.

“I like (the area),” Smith said. “I still like it. Most of my family is here.”

Yet she has noticed a change in the area over the years.

“You didn’t have to lock the doors,” Smith said about the time she was growing up. “We left our doors open at night.”

That isn’t the case so much anymore.

“I read the paper every day,” Smith said. “You have to know what’s coming and going.”

While she has spent most of her time in Lycoming County, for about 10 years after the death of her husband, she would spend all winter in California. While there, she visited Las Vegas, play slot machines and bet on the horses.

“We won and we lost,” Smith said. “My daughter would get tickets. She knew. She was experienced.”

Smith attributes her longevity to working hard all of her life. She used to work at Coney Island by the old jail and sold flowers, bouquets and corsages at a grower’s market on Market Street. She considers flowers her passion.

Smith also enjoys cooking — for both her and her family.

“If I get hungry for something, I fix it,” she said.

She often is called upon to make her famous iced tea for family picnics.

A Yankees and Tiger Woods fan, Smith said she always has enjoyed watching sports. She also watches soap operas and game shows, as well as listens to the country music station on her TV.

Smith has a cellphone, but has not kept up with the latest technology.

“I wouldn’t know how to use (a computer),” she said. “I don’t know how to text. I don’t know what all those buttons are for.”

Instead of collecting gadgets, she has collected knick-knacks throughout the years.

For the most part, there is no rhyme or reason to the items she has displayed on her shelves.

“Just anything that looked cute,” she said. ‘That would look cute on my shelf’ and I’d get it.”

To get those knick-knacks, she relied on her family for transportation because she never learned how to drive.

“I wasn’t interested (in driving),” she said. “I got my permit and let it run out.”

Still, that never stopped her from enjoying herself. Her children and grandchildren would take her to eat out every Friday night.

The love she has for her family is made obvious by the numerous pictures that line her walls and desk, full of family members from years ago to more recently. A collage on the wall is addressed to “our favorite grandmother.”

Also on her desk, amidst the multitudes of pictures, are the birthday cards wishing her a happy 100th birthday. One card she received early was from President and Mrs. Obama.