JERSEY SHORE - All birthdays are special occasions, but to celebrate 100 of those special days is really something astonishing.
Centenarian Barbara Miller said she didn't want a big celebration- "I just want to take my cooks out for dinner!"
Barbara lovingly refers to her two sisters, Alice Fox and Harriet Heisey, with whom she lives, as her "cooks."
After a bad fall earlier this year, Barbara had to leave her home on Elm Street and move in with her two sisters on Fountain Street.
Although difficult to leave the home she once shared with her late husband, Clair, she remains positive and cheerful.
The three sisters enjoy each others' company and their brother, Jay Heisey, often drops by to join in on the fun.
It's interesting to note that they don't have cable television and have not watched TV for several decades.
Barbara Hess Heisey was born July 23, 1910, in Marietta, Lancaster County.
Her family moved to the area when she was 9 years old.
As the second oldest of nine siblings, she helped care for her younger brothers and sisters on their farm in Hyner.
"I remember when we moved there, Dad tried to start a Post Office, but there weren't enough people at the time," Barbara said, adding that if they wanted to attend a one-room schoolhouse, they had to cross the Susquehanna River to get there.
Barbara recalls a story from her childhood in which the Heisey children had to take a rowboat to school in the morning and in the winter, they walked across the frozen river.
One winter morning, they traversed the ice and as the day progressed, the temperature rose and the ice began breaking-up.
The only way back home was to jump into a boat and row across. The swift water and ice slabs were hitting the side of the boat as Barbara rowed her sister Pauline and brother Jacob to safety. Their frightened mother stood on the bank and watched helplessly.
"I was so happy when we moved to Jersey Shore, because I knew I could always get home from school at the end of the day," Barbara said.
While still in grade school, her teacher, Leroy Keiler I, recognized Barbara's artistic talents and gave her a box of watercolors - and she began a lifetime of painting, according to her sister Alice.
Barbara finished her education and graduated from Millersville College in 1932 where she studied elementary education.
Barbara returned to Jersey Shore and taught school for three years.
"Barbie quit when she had to teach her brothers and sisters," her brother Jay joked as Barbara laughed off the accusation.
While walking home from church one Sunday, a gentleman stopped and offered Barbara a ride home.
"Everyone in town knew Clair Miller, so I knew I could trust him and besides, he had his mother with him," Barbara said. "We were married Dec. 4, 1941, three days before Pearl Harbor."
The Millers were married for 53 years and enjoyed a good life together. They never had any children and Barbara was content to be a homemaker. They owned a cabin in Haneyville and visited it often. Mr. Miller passed away 15 years ago.
As a charter member of the Jersey Shore Garden Club, Barbara grew various flowers while her husband worked in the vegetable garden.
Summer was too hot for her, she preferred springtime for outside work, she said. One of Barbara's greatest joys was painting. She recalls her Aunt Cora, an art teacher, encouraging her to paint. Cora Heisey was the wife of Samuel Heisey.
The family donated their home to the Clinton County Historical Society in 1962. It is now known as the Heisey Museum, along 362 E. Water St.
The three sisters remember eating dinners at Uncle Sam and Aunt Cora's house, stating that it used to be a farm at one time.
"During the '50s and '60s, I belonged to a painting class ... we had several teachers from Williamsport and met once a week," Barbara said. "I don't know if I was a real artist, but I sure worked hard at it."
The beautiful artwork that hangs throughout their home shows Barbara was very much an accomplished artist. Alice noted that she has set-up her sister's art studio on the sun porch, but Barbara hasn't resumed painting yet. The two sisters continue to encourage her to do so.
"She still sews; she made the blouse I'm wearing," Alice stated, adding that family stops by with fabric and asks Barbara to make them something and she complies.
Barbara also quilts, knits, reads books and magazines and bakes, especially pies. Barbara also is a lifetime member of the Jersey Shore Historical Society and has been a member of Trinity United Methodist Church since 1941.
At 100 years of age, Barbara shows no signs of slowing down. When she gets tired, she said she just rests.
The Heisey family truly has longevity on their side, with their mother's sister living to be 107. Harriet joked that someone once said: "the only way to get rid of them was to shoot 'em!"