Previous headline: Ninety-nine and a half won't do; Lorine Bunting heads for 100
To the delight of her many friends at the Senior Citizens Center in Conway, Lorine Bunting sings them a song.
“Lord, I’m tryin’, tryin’ to make a hundred.
“Ninety-nine and a half won’t do.”
(You can see her sing in a video at thecabin.net)
Mrs. Bunting will reach that milestone on Sept. 11, and in the meantime, there are celebrations.
A nephew, Eddie Junior Ryan hosted a catfish supper on Aug. 27, and the Senior Center will have a party on Thursday, Sept. 8.
More family and friends will gather at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the True Holiness Family Life Center where her great-nephew Cornell Maltbia is the pastor.
Mrs. Bunting still lives in the house she and her husband built in the Caney community.
“I’m still waiting on myself,” she says, cooking meals, doing laundry and choosing outfits to match her many colorful hats.
She’s a regular at Sinai Church of God in Christ where she’s been a member for more than 70 years. She’s still on the roster as a “Church Mother.”
Her only complaint is her legs don’t always cooperate. She’s had surgeries, she uses a walker, but she doesn’t stay on her feet as long as she used to.
“I went to the doctor this morning, and he gave me a good report,” she said on Thursday.
She’s still a good cook, her niece and nephews say, and she can recall details about her life, growing up in the early days of rural Faulkner County.
Her parents, Isaac and Rachel Fortune, homesteaded 120 acres in the bottoms near Caney Creek, coming with four children from South Carolina in the 1890s in a covered wagon.
“They came for a better life,” Mrs. Bunting said. She was the first of their children to be born in the “new land.”
The pioneering life was hard.
Her father was a blacksmith and farmer who raised cotton, sorghum, corn, peas, peanuts, potatoes. His orchard had pears, peaches and apples. There were blackberries and figs to pick.
Beef cattle, milk cows, hogs and her mother’s love of fishing kept the family, now with nine children, well fed.
Mrs. Bunting helped with all the chores: Chopping and picking cotton, cutting wood, milking the cows, churning butter and trimming the wicks on the coal-oil lamps.
“We’d put the milk and butter down in the well to keep it cool,” she told.
Her mother took in washing and ironing; quilting was for the winter months. Mrs. Bunting was good at making pretty patterns.
For fun, she loved to play baseball with the other kids in the Caney community.
She and her husband Sam were married on May 10, 1938, in Malvern where he had a job as a cook. They had no children.
“I just wasn’t lucky,” she said.
But she was a good aunt to her siblings’ children. On Thursday, Joan and Samuel Bunting and Lee Maltbia remembered fondly their aunt’s homemade ice cream.
“And she made the best vegetable soup in the whole wide world,” Maltbia said.
Mrs. Bunting and her husband had 100 acres off Caney Creek Road, but much of the land was taken over by Lake Conway.
The home they built, just off Skunk Hollow Road, was hit twice by tornadoes. They were at home both times but weren’t injured. The first twister took off the roof of their house; the second took away their barn.
Sam Bunting passed away in 1990.
Today she says she enjoys not having to chop wood for the cook stove and doing the laundry is much easier.
“I don’t have to render fat to make soap anymore, but I still have my rub board,” she said.
Of all the inventions she has seen come and go, she enjoys the TV the most.
“I love my TV. ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and that Old Lady Judy, I like them the best,” she said.
“Would that Old Lady Judy be Judge Judy?” Joan Maltbia asked.
“Uh-huh. Four o’clock every day,” Mrs. Bunting said.
About those hats.
Another nephew, Larry Mosley, just gave her a new, off-white hat. She hasn’t worn it yet. She’s saving it for a special occasion.
“I’ve got to strut in that one at my party,” she said.
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 505-1234.)