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Newberg resident and amateur golfing ace Mildred Harris turns 100 and tells her story

SUSAN BRANNON - Mildred Harris was born on March 7, 1918, and attributes her longevity to never having smoked or drank and waking up before dawn.

Mildred Harris celebrated a century of living March 7.

Born in 1918, she is one of the few people remaining from that era, rugged sorts who lived through the Great Depression, drove Model T Fords and watched the world of technology emerge around them.

Harris may be 100, but says inside she feels like she is younger, much younger.

"I'm 22," she quips.

Harris was born in Corvallis, but moved to Albany after she and her husband purchased a home near a country club. Soon golf became her passion. She excelled, winning the Oregon amateur championship one year and throughout years of competing around the country she earned 72 trophies, as well as three holes in one.

"They used to go to Palm Springs and got to play with Bob Hope," daughter Karen Griffin said. Griffin visits her mother daily and helps to fill in the missing pieces of a fading memory.

In Albany, she would wake up at dawn to play nine holes of golf while everyone in the house was fast asleep.

She still wakes up around 4:30.

"That's how she has always been," Griffin said.

Despite her age, she continues to rise early every morning.

What is her trick for remaining healthy?

"I love beans," Harris replied, with Griffin providing clarification:

"When she was young she used to eat bean sandwiches. They came from a poor family and her father was a musician. They would move around a lot. One time we drove in McMinnville near the railroad tracks and mom said, 'I remember that place. I used to live there!'

"There was a time when she was in school and always brought a bean sandwich. One day another kid at the school wanted to trade sandwiches. She had a tuna sandwich and it was the first time my mom had tuna. My mom was almost a vegetarian. If she could have been one, I think that she would have been."

Harris jokes around and bursts into old time songs with a passion remembering the old days. She sings with smiles in her eyes throughout the conversation.

"I want to go where you go," Harris sang. "Who's kissing him now?"

Music remains a part of who she is. Growing up in a musical family, she learned to play piano by ear instead of reading music.

"She could pick up any song at any time and just start playing," Griffin said. "If there was a piano, she would sit down and play just about anywhere."

Harris has seven siblings and comes from a family with good genes as the others lived to be in their 90s. Harris never smoked, never drank and was raised in a Christian family and brought up her family in the church.

"She used to ask what day it is and if it was Saturday, then she would say, 'Oh good! We get to go to church tomorrow," Griffin said.

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