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Tobacco-Chewing, 114-Year-Old Woman World’s Oldest

November 17, 1988

PALATKA, Fla. (AP) _ Carrie White, a tobacco-chewing woman who has been been institionalized since 1909, will be certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest living person on her 114th birthday Friday.

Mrs. White, who was born in 1874 during the second term of President Ulysses S. Grant and two years before Custer’s last stand at Little Big Horn, will celebrate her birthday with a cake decorated with 114 candles and receive her formal world record certificate from Guinness.

Officials at the Putnam Memorial Nursing Center, where Mrs. White lives, know very little about her. She has no living relatives and has been under hospital care for 79 years.

Marjorie Allen, Mrs. White’s guardian since 1984, said she learned four years ago that Mrs. White was at Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee and had been there since Nov. 19, 1909, the day after her 35th birthday.

Mrs. White was diagnosed when she was admitted to the hospital as suffering from post-typhoid psychosis, though Mrs. Allen has no clear record of an outbreak of typhoid fever at that time.

Mrs. Allen learned the name of Mrs. White’s mother, Sally Joiner, from the commitment records at Florida State Hospital. Her father’s name was John.

Her guardian arranged to have the woman moved to the Community Convalescence Center in Gainesville, and she was transferred in 1986 to the nursing home in Palatka where Mrs. Allen’s husband Paul is administrator.

Mrs. Allen said Mrs. White refuses to discuss the past.

″She will not go back. With Carrie, it is the now. I don’t delve into that very much. It’s like she put up a steel wall,″ she said.

Records show Mrs. White taught piano in Tallahassee and married John White, who did some blacksmithing.

Her daily routine at the nursing home is to have breakfast in bed and then spend the day caring for her possessions, including dolls and stuffed animals.

She also likes to chew tobacco, preferring Red Man.

″You don’t need teeth to chew tobacco, I guess,″ Mrs. Allen said.

Guinness based its decision to declare Mrs. White the oldest living person on evidence from extensive medical and state records, according to William Ihle, a spokesman for Beverly Enterprises, which operates the nursing home.

The 1989 Guinness Book of World Records, already published, lists 112-year- old Birdie May Vogt of Miami as the oldest living person. Others have claimed the title, but Guinness said it requires ″adequate authentication.″

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