Harold McCarthey made it to 100 years old last week and celebrated at First Baptist Church in Tuttle, joined by more than 100 friends and family members.
When informed that 140 people attended the party Sunday, McCarthey responded, “140? Jiminy! I didn’t know I know’d that many people. Holy cow! 140 people! Yeah, that thing was full. They took me back there at 2 p.m. and it just started, had two or three people lined up there and I went till 4 p.m. when I finally got through there talking to everyone.”
McCarthey was born August 22, 1916 during the first world war.
In 1916, a loaf of bread was seven cents, coffee was fifteen cents, and sugar was four cents, and the average price for a car was $400. The United States had a graduation rate of six percent, only eight percent of homes had a telephone, and Woodrow Wilson was president. McCarthey has lived to see 16 other presidents.
He was also around to help the U.S. fight World War II. Harold joined the Army Air Corps in 1942, five years before it became known as the U.S. Air Force. He landed in Europe in 1943 and stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in 1944.
“I was in six battles over there in Europe, and just lucky I’m still going,” McCarthey said. “The good Lord was really good to me.”
McCarthey served four years and said there was a particular togetherness among people following the Second World War.
“In a way, I guess there was, because you tried to help your brothers,” McCarthey said Monday. “It’s a big war. It’s a big thing. When somebody needs a little help, you try to help him.”
McCarthey said he didn’t know exactly what to attribute his longevity to, but knows what has been his Achilles’ heel.
“That I couldn’t even start to answer,” McCarthey said about his longevity. “I don’t know. I haven’t had no trouble until this year when I started having trouble with my feet after I stubbed my toenail off. After that I just went downhill. I tore that dang toenail off and that’s what started everything.”
He did say that hard work, and life on a farm, was a major ingredient that he thinks kept him healthy.
“Yeah, I think hard work’s done every bit of it,” McCarthey said. “And living on a farm. You got fresh air on the farm. We were in the dirt, but it was good clean air. You’re not in a factory where you get chemicals and all the stuff that really hurts your health. I was out there on the farm where it’s clean. Had a garden, got our own food, no chemicals in it.”
Today, people are chomping at the bit to get their hands on the new technology or to stay aware of what tech might be unveiled next. McCarthey said that was one less problem when he was a teenager.
“If they had, we’d never know it, sitting out there on the farm,” McCarthey said. “We didn’t know anything. In town, you get some of that, but we didn’t get none of that out on the farm.”
He said, to him, the biggest invention of his days was the television set. The TV was invented in the 1930s and was widespread before the end of the 1940s.
“We had radio to start with when I was just a little ole kid,” McCarthey said. “We finally got an old radio; boy we thought that was awful great. We got electric, that’s what it was, so we got us a radio. Electricity was the whole thing, but then television, boy, when that came in, that was something. We had a picture, we didn’t have to go to town to the show Saturday night. We did do it though, but we could get our shows at home on TV. TV was a real invention in my life.”
So, how does it feel to make it to 100?
“I didn’t think I’d make it,” he said, “but it’s just another day.”