CUMBERLAND — Evelyn Harrop was born on Nov. 10, 1918, the day before World War I came to an end.

“The day before the armistice was signed,” she said. “I’ve lived through a lot of history.”

Harrop, wearing a “birthday girl” tiara, celebrated her 103rd birthday this week at Chapel Hill Senior Living on Old Diamond Hill Road.

Asked to impart some life advice, Harrop said, “Just live day to day, and take it as it comes,” she advised. “The same thing goes for everything … do what you have to do, and of course, mind your own business many times.”

Harrop was raised in Taunton, Mass., coming of age during the Great Depression as the fifth of seven children. She still remembers her family collecting fallen coal from passing freight trains to heat their stove.

She graduated from Taunton High School, in 1937, two years before the nation would enter the second World War.

“The soldiers would come home to Taunton for nights off; we always enjoyed dancing,” she said.

She met her husband-to-be, Fred, on a blind date. Soon thereafter, Fred would leave for Japan to serve in the war.

“He was gone for four years,” she said. “But I wrote to him often. I figured they were always so anxious to have a letter from someone.”

Through letters, their bond grew. “Letter writing does a lot. You can say a lot in a letter that you can’t say in person,” she said. After the war, Fred and Evelyn were married.

“We had a good life. He was a very good husband,” she said. Since Fred was from Lincoln, the young couple moved to their first apartment near McCoy stadium in Pawtucket before settling in Cumberland, where they lived for 60 years.

Together, they share three children.

“I have much, much to be thankful for,” Harrop said, reflecting on her 103 years of life so far. “Good health, first of all. Everything else fell into place. It always does when you’re in good health.”

There’s no secret formula to it, she said. “There isn’t anything you can take or do” to live to 103, but she’s never been too fussy about food.

“There were seven of us at home, so you ate what was there,” she said.

Harrop isn’t too fussy about much of anything.

“I always got along with people – in-laws, outlaws and every other kind. They’ve all been very good. I’ve never had any fussing with anybody. If you don’t get along with someone, just turn around and go the other way.”

She is fascinated by cellphones, which she said “weren’t in style” when she was growing up. To be fair, she was born at the time of the telegraph.

She typed (on a typewriter) in high school, but not much beyond. “Now, the 1st graders are doing it,” she said, of using computers. “Things have changed an awful lot from the time I was growing up because we didn’t have any of those things at all. Fortunately, we all had good health … that was the main thing.”

Today, Harrop lives a quiet life at Chapel Hill. She meets daily to chat in the lobby with her friend Mary Lafferty, who turned 102 in August. Laura Cardoso, life enrichment coordinator at Chapel Hill, said Harrop and Lafferty are “the best of friends.”

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