100 years in the making: Covered Bridge resident celebrates a century

Turning 100 years old would be a major milestone for most people.

For Vera Brittingham, it’s just another day, she said.

Brittingham, a resident of Covered Bridge Health Campus in Seymour, hit the century mark on May 26. The staff at the assisted living facility helped her celebrate by throwing a party.

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“It feels like any other day,” she said. “I don’t feel any different.”

Born in 1918 at Fort Branch in Gibson County, Indiana, she is the daughter of the late Robert and Hattie Polk. She had one older brother, Harold Polk, who died in 1997.

She married Robert Brittingham in 1940. The two met on a blind date set up by one of Vera’s girlfriends.

“My friend had a date with another fella, and Bob was a friend of his,” Vera said.

The date went well and was followed by more.

“I enjoyed being with him,” she said. “I guess I thought he was OK.”

After graduating from high school in Fort Branch, Vera had worked for four years in the office of a p rinting company but never returned to the workforce after she and Bob got married in 1940.

“My husband didn’t want me to,” she said. “He said he’d come home grouchy and I would come home grouchy and it wouldn’t work.”

Bob worked for The Morris Five and Ten Cent Store in Greensburg, so that’s where they set up house.

When Bob entered the U.S. Air Force, he was stationed in Georgia, and Vera went and stayed with him.

“They had a place where they had apartments built for the servicemen,” she said. “So we lived there.”

Vera got pregnant while they were in Georgia and learned that Bob was being transferred to Washington state.

“He had to bring me back home where my mother and father lived,” Vera said.

Their only child, Alan, was born two weeks after she made it back to Indiana.

Bob served three years in the military but never had to leave the country, she said.

The couple then moved on to Lebanon, Ohio, followed by Portland, Indiana, and then on to New Castle before landing in Madison, where they ended up spending most of their lives together.

“We lived there for 65 years,” she said.

After Robert died in December 2013, Vera moved in with her son and his wife, Carol, who live just five miles east of Seymour.

“She’s really good to me,” Vera said of her relationship with her daughter-in-law.

She also gets to see her two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren on special occasions and when they are in town.

Gardening and sewing are activities Vera has enjoyed in her life, but she doesn’t get to do them anymore. She also used to be quite the fisher, thanks to her husband.

“We always had to go fishing,” she said. “In fact, we went fishing on our honeymoon. We had a cabin along with three other couples in Canada. We fished a lot up there.”

She moved into Covered Bridge two years ago, and said she likes it there very much.

“I didn’t know a single soul when I came out here,” she said. “But now I have a lot of friends. We have activities that I try to take part in, exercising and bingo and we play a lot of euchre. I love playing euchre. I like bridge much better, but I can’t see to play bridge anymore.”

There’s no secret to living a long life except to take care of yourself, she added.

“And I didn’t worry about it,” she said of getting older.

The only setback she’s had was a diagnosis of macular degneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss. But with the help of a magnification screen or what she calls her “seeing machine,” Vera is able to read the Madison newspaper and write checks. She also tries to read a verse of the Bible every day.

“I’ve tried to live a good Christian life,” she said.

Vera never really thought she’d make it to 100.

“I guess I had good doctors all along,” she said of her health and longevity. “My doctor in Madison, from the very first time I went, said ‘I think you’ll live to be 100.’ I didn’t think he knew what he was talking about. Turns out I was wrong.”