World's oldest person, Jeanne Calment, celebrates 122nd birthday
Feb. 21, 1997
ARLES, France (AP) _ Unlike birthdays past, Jeanne Calment's 122nd was a low-key affair.
There were no rap recordings and among the guests was just a single television crew. Last year, 150 journalists crammed into the retirement home where Calment has lived for 12 years.
Sporting a new hairdo and dress for the occasion, Calment also received the mayor of Arles and a representative of the French government, who gave her a blue Christian Lacroix scarf and flowers.
But gifts and the size of the crowd apparently weren't as important to Calment as the opportunity to indulge. She said she had impatiently awaited her birthday so she could ``eat some chocolate and drink a little sweet wine.'' Her cake was chocolate, topped by a ``122'' in yellow sugar.
Calment's doctor persuaded her to give up sweets two years ago, although she claims an occasional glass of Port wine _ along with a diet rich in olive oil _ are the keys to her long life.
Though blind, nearly deaf and in a wheelchair, Calment remains spirited and mentally acute. That was clear to those who attended her 121st birthday, when she released her CD, ``Time's Mistress,'' which features her reminiscing to a score of rap and other tunes.
Calment has no direct descendants, having survived her husband, her daughter and her grandson.
She lives mostly off the income from her apartment, which she sold cheaply 32 years ago to a lawyer who agreed to make monthly payments on it in exchange for taking possession of the apartment when she died.
He never got to do so. He died more than a year ago at age 77, but his family must continue to make the payments.