Iva Noriene McLaughlin was 17 years old when she graduated as the Hawthorne High School valedictorian in 1932.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was President of the United States and Iva posed for her senior portrait in a white dress while holding a bouquet of white Calla Lilies. Iva said she is wearing her first pair of high heels in that photograph.
Iva was born on Oct. 12, 1915 and joined her family as the youngest of eight children. As the baby of the family, she said her older sisters did most of the cooking.
Her maiden name Eargle changed to McLaughlin when she married her second husband Sam McLaughlin and they had a son named Sammy, Jr. who worked at Disney World before joining the U.S. Navy and traveling the world before passing away at a young age.
Iva worked as a bookkeeper for the City of Hawthorne and other businesses in Gainesville, including a doctor’s office and a golf course.
Iva and Sam celebrated more than 50 years of marriage before he passed away. And now, Iva lives with a roommate and has a caretaker who helps her out at her home in Hawthorne, where she will celebrate turning 106 on Tuesday.
This birthday party will be much smaller than previous ones given the COVID-19 pandemic. Her grand niece, Gayle Ambrose, said she will bake Iva’s favorite Angel Food cake. At Iva’s 100th birthday party the whole town celebrated and then at Iva’s 105th birthday the community drove by Iva’s home with signs on their cars wishing her a happy birthday.
Iva said what she misses most during the pandemic is attending church at Hawthorne First Baptist.
Her good friend would take her to church each Sunday so she said she is looking forward to when the “virus is over,” and her friend Bertha will come take her to church.
But some of her daily routine has remained constant.
“Jeopardy and the news,” Iva said when asked what her favorite TV shows are.
Each morning she gets the newspaper and reads it cover to cover, she said.
When you ask Iva questions she often responds, “I have to put on my thinking cap,” and then she giggles.
She said that her longevity is a combination of her good health and, “trying not to worry about things over which I have no control.”
And while some memories are hard to reach, she said she did love growing up on a farm.
“I grew up with all of the farm animals,” she said about living on a farm where they grew string beans and fordhook Lima beans, and raised cattle and horses.
“At the time it didn’t seem so wonderful,” Iva said. “But now I can look back and it was great years.”
Iva said along with Angel Food cake, she likes pickles, so much so that her aide of 30 years Gayle Cruey said she buys jars of them from the dollar store and Iva eats about a jar every day of the sweet bread and butter kind along with her meals.
“They’re good with anything or by themselves,” Iva said. “Pickles and cake are good together, really really good,” she adds with a giggle.
Dr. Susan Percival, a professor and chair of UF Food Science and Human Nutrition, said that Iva might be on to something thanks to the vinegar in pickles and juice that she is consuming.
“Vinegar (acetic acid) seems to assist with maintaining blood sugar levels,” Percival said. “Instead of a high peak of sugar in the blood after a meal, vinegar seems to flatten the curve.
“We don’t want blood sugar to undergo high peaks and low valleys, so if vinegar can flatten the peaks and keep blood sugar steady throughout the day, that might benefit someone health-wise. High blood sugar even after a meal can have detrimental effects over the long term—mostly oxidation issues.”
One study deduced that pickle juice shortens the duration of muscle cramps in athletes. Which might explain the giant jar of dill pickle juice kept on the sidelines of the Gainesville High School football team during games.
Iva still gets around her house and has trouble hearing without hearing aids. But back to her daily schedule, she sits in her favorite chair surrounded by a lifetime collection of knick knacks and walls throughout the house are filled with photographs of her family and grand nieces and nephews.
Her favorite songs are hymns from church—“What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and “How Great Thou Art.”