They don't know each other; they grew up worlds apart, one in relative comfort, the other in abject poverty; but they ended up living in Carthage, and on Saturday, July 21, each celebrated birthday No. 100 with family and friends.

They don't know each other; they grew up worlds apart, one in relative comfort, the other in abject poverty; but they ended up living in Carthage, and on Saturday, July 21, each celebrated birthday No. 100 with family and friends.
Cleo Warden's 100th birthday was July 22, while Elizabeth Harrison was born 100 years ago on July 19.
Warden and her family had a party at Carthage's Municipal Hall. Harrison and her family celebrated at the home on Centennial Avenue she shares with her daughter and other family members.
Cleo Warden's daughter, Quetha Basham, knows Harrison's daughter, Ann Huckstep, but that's the only real connection between two women who have lived long, eventful and fulfilling lives.
Harrison lives in a very busy household, with her daughter, his husband, and Ann Huckstep's son's family.
“The doctor, about four or five years ago, attributed that to her getting this old,” Ann Huckstep said. “There's always something going on in the house. We have a busy household.”
Cleo Warden lives on her own in a duplex, loves to read and enjoys the company of her daughter who visits every day.
“I guess it might be because I had a sister who lived to be 103,” Warden said. “Maybe good genes. Just simple living. For supper I eat cornbread and milk.”

Worlds apart
Liz Harrison was born Liz Richards on July 19, 1918 in Crane, Mo.
Like most children in that time, she was born at home. She went to school in Crane and her father was a railroad engineer, a job which he kept through the Great Depression, which put about a quarter of American workers out of work.
Cleo Warden was born on July 22, 1918, in Oklahoma, and lived in Texas and Oklahoma as a child. Warden said she remembers moving around a lot between Texas and Oklahoma as her father struggled to make a living as a farmer during the Dust Bowl years, which coincided with the Great Depression.
Harrison graduated from Crane High School, where she helped Crane's girl's basketball team win a state title in 1934 or 1935. Then she went to college at the State Teachers College in Springfield, now known as Missouri State University, and moved to Joplin to work as a social worker.
Warden worked in the fields with her family until the early 1940s when they packed everything up, sold their interest in a farm to other family members, and moved to California. There Warden remembers working in packing houses, packing grapes and oranges into crates for shipment around the country.
Their lives probably couldn't have been any different — they represented two ends of the spectrum in the economic boom in the Roaring 1920s, then the even more catastrophic Great Depression in the 1930s. They lived their lives, raised families and eventually landed in Carthage.

Elizabeth Harrison
Liz Harrison said she remembers as a child her dad trying to convince her to get in the cab of the big steam locomotive he was driving with him, but she wasn't convinced.
“He drove those old iron things,” she said. “I remember he went through Crane and we went down to see him and he tried to get me to come on the engine. I wouldn't go, that was when they had the fire box and firemen, and it was just too loud and too big so I talked up to him and him down to me. I was about 5 when that happened.”
Harrison went to Springfield for college after graduating high school in 1936. She said she originally went to college to learn to teach French, but someone convinced her to pursue social work instead.
Her father got a new job as an engineer in Joplin in 1939 and the family moved from Crane to Joplin. She joined them after she graduated from college in 1940.
We moved to Joplin and I loved Joplin,” Harrison said. “I lived there all through the 1940s. It was a going town, I had so much fun and so many nice friends, I just loved it.”
She worked for the state of Missouri as a social worker for seven years, then joined the U.S. Navy.
“I joined the Navy because I missed it in World War II, so when I had a chance to go, I did,” Harrison said. “But I only stayed for four years. I was a teletype operator, communications. I was stationed at Pensacola, Florida, and you wouldn't know that town now. In the navy 1949-1953.”
She returned to Joplin after her service and went to work with family members in a Joplin travel agency. She spent time with some close friends during those years.
Mark Richards, Liz Harrison's nephew, was just a kid then, but he recalls when she started dating the man she would eventually marry, John Harrison.
“Aunt Liz and I were this close when I was a kid,” he said. “Then Aunt Liz started dating Uncle John, and I couldn't deal with it. I'd walk home from school to my grandmother's and Aunt Liz was always there, then we'd do stuff, we'd go in the car and do things. Then this man came along and Aunt Liz was gone, she'd be gone on Friday night and that's when we'd always go do something. When they announced they were getting married, I told my father, this is the worst thing that could happen. He said, 'No, this is a good thing,' and I said, I don't think it is. I finally told Aunt Liz this about 20 years later.”
John and Liz Harrison got married in 1958, then she gave birth to their daughter, Ann, in 1959.
The family moved to a farm east of Carthage on Gum Road, but Liz wasn't a fan of rural living, having lived in towns and cities all her life.
The family moved to Carthage when Ann was 5 or 6 so she could go to St. Ann's School.
They moved into the home they live in now when it belonged to Harrison's in-laws.
Harrison admitted she wasn't sure she'd like Carthage when they first moved here, but the town has grown on her.
“It's the trees,” Harrison said. “I don't get out much, and when I do, these trees, they're the biggest things, and they're very pretty. The Maple Leaf Parade is fun too, it comes right in front of the house. I haven't missed a single parade. Ann has a party, we have people over for the parade. We have people that Ann knows now.”
Harrison said her eyesight is failing, but other than that's she's in good health, and that's a blessing.
“You can be 100, if you have good health, and you'll like it,” she said. “But if you don't have good health, there's no use to being 100.”

Cleo Warden
Remembers that she was poor as a child, at one point she only had three dresses to wear, but she didn't realize how poor she was.
“It was a tough time,” Warden said. “But we didn't realize it was tough, we always just enjoyed life. At least we had something to eat. We didn't live very high on the hog back then. We raised cotton one year when we were in what they called the black lands. Then we moved and started raising peanuts. That was hard work.”
Warden said her family lived on the southern edge of the famous Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.
“We weren't really in that Dust Bowl, but it was terrible,” Warden said. “We could feel the affects of it. They could see it up north and in the panhandle of Texas. We were around Dallas.”
In 1940 or 1941, Warden's father sold the farm and moved to California.
“That's where I met my husband,” Warden said. “Ernie Warden was from Missouri, but all our kids are Californians. Michael, Marvin and Quetha were all born out there. We lived around Orange Cove, and I worked in the packing houses, I worked packing grapes and oranges.
“That was a really good job, where we lived in Orange Cove, there were orange groves all around and it smelled so good. When they were blooming it would smell good and also when we were packing them.”
In 1958, the Wardens moved back to Missouri and bought an 80-acre farm in the West Plains area.
Cleo Warden said her dad worked in a truck body plant in West Plains in the maintenance department, and the family raised cattle, hogs and had a big garden.
Warden said the family lived there for 40 years. It was the first time she had lived on one place for more than a couple of years in her life.
Her three children moved out and started lives of their own, then in 1998, with Ernie's health failing, they decided to sell the farm and move to Carthage.
“The doctor said you need to get closer to your daughter and so they moved up here, and a year and a half later dad passed away,” Basham said. “I told my mom, he did that to take care of her. So she would be taken care of now, and I wonder what he would think about that she's still here 20 years later.”
“I guess he would think he really did do a good job taking care of me,” Warden said.
Warden's middle son, Marvin, died a couple of years ago. Quetha sees her mother every day and her son Michael, who lives in Minnesota, visits frequently.
“My brother is really good, he calls every week and he comes down pretty often,” Quetha said. “What he thinks is it's important for her is to have something to look forward to, so the minute we have some kind of event, we go to Texas once a year for a family reunion, so after that he'll be telling her, I'll be coming to visit.”
Warden said she watches television and plays solitaire, with real cards, not on the computer.
Warden said she's lived a life of moderation, and that might have something to do with why she's lived so long.
“It is really good not to eat as much at night,” she said. “Your breakfast ought to be your main meal. And a good lunch is good. For supper, if people would eat light they'd sleep better. Another thing is a lot of prayers. God has answered so many of my prayers. That is the main thing.”