Arkansas Podcast

Happy 100th birthday, Grandma Classie!

My grandmother, Mrs. Classie Hawkins of Center Ridge, Arkansas, celebrated her 100th birthday on Nov. 17, 2019.

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Season 1 / Episode 6 (12:00 mark)

Dozens gathered in Center Ridge, Arkansas, Nov. 16-17, 2019, for a two-day celebration of our grandmother’s, Mrs. Classie O. Hawkins’, 100th birthday. The fall weather was perfect for the Saturday cookout at Grandma’s house, and Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church was the site of the praise and worship celebration on Sunday.

Born the third of six children to Dock Lee and Myrtis Morris Clinkscale on Nov. 17, 1919, Classie Clinkscale Hawkins is a lifelong resident of Center Ridge. As a girl, she attended church at Mount Zion United Methodist Church and school at Friendship and Union Special, two of three area schools formerly enslaved African Americans founded after migrating to northeast Conway County following emancipation.

In 1936, Mrs. Classie married Mr. Tolly Bishop “T.B.” Hawkins. The couple became members of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church shortly after they wed, where Mrs. Hawkins still attends today. They raised 11 children – six girls and five boys – and operated a dairy farm until Mr. Hawkins’ death in 2001.

“100 Years: A Reflection” | Katrina Dupins on YouTube

In her younger days, Mrs. Classie had a gift of delivering speeches from memory at church services. She maintains her gift of the spoken word today, reciting poems and rhymes she learned over the years – and expecting her listeners to be able to join in or share their own. At Sweet Home Church on her 100th birthday, Mrs. Classie recited two poems, one of which she learned in the third grade: “Great, Wide, Beautiful, Wonderful World” by English writer William Brighty Rands.

“Classie Hawkins recites Great, Wide, Beautiful, Wonderful World” | Katrina Dupins on YouTube

Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World,
With the wonderful water round you curled,
And the wonderful grass upon your breast–
World, you are beautifully drest.

The wonderful air is over me,
And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree,
It walks on the water, and whirls the mills,
And talks to itself on the tops of the hills.

You friendly Earth! how far do you go,
With the wheat-fields that nod and the rivers that flow,
With cities and gardens, and cliffs, and isles,
And people upon you for thousands of miles?

Ah, you are so great, and I am so small,
I tremble to think of you, World, at all;
And yet, when I said my prayers to-day,
A whisper inside me seemed to say,
“You are more than the Earth, though you are such a dot:
You can love and think, and the Earth cannot!”

Quick-witted, a straight shooter, and a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, Mrs. Classie Hawkins is a blessing to her family and a joy to all who know her.

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