Happy Birthday, Frances

Southside’s Frances Shaw celebrated her 100th birthday on Dec. 3

By Brogan Dearinger

Frances Shaw and her Chihuahua. *Photo by Brogan Dearinger.

Friends and family gathered at VFW Post 1120 on Sunday, Dec. 2, to celebrate Frances Shaw’s 100th birthday.

Her secret to longevity?

“I believed in God,” she said. “I never smoked or drank.”

Shaw was born in Zenas, Indiana, on Dec. 3, 1917, where she grew up on a farm with 180 acres on one side of the Muscatatuck River and 110 acres on the other side of it. Her father joked that God had messed up his order — he had wanted a son and a female foal, but instead had Frances and a colt. 

Shaw’s earliest memory was from 1920, when she was three years old. When her mother had surgery in Seymour, she remembered staying with her grandparents while her father visited her mother in the hospital. He came home from his visit after she had gone to bed. She woke up to him at her bedside. “I didn’t greet him well,” she said. She cried and asked for her mother.

Frances in her younger years.

She graduated high school in Zenas with four girls and four boys in her graduating class.  After high school, she married the father of her oldest son, Larry. After he passed away, she moved to Indianapolis and stayed with her aunt in the house she lives in now. She attended beauty school and eventually owned and operated multiple beauty shops. At one point, she lived in North Vernon and operated a beauty shop there.

Her second husband, with whom she had two daughters, Linda and Lida, was drafted into the Army during World War II. Shaw said she moved around the country with him during his service.

“I saw the United States at the government’s expense,” she joked. She lived in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and Red Bank, New Jersey.

Once her husband was stationed overseas, she bought her aunt’s old house and has lived there ever since.

Now, Shaw lives with her tiny, brown Chihuahua in the same house she’s lived in since 1945. “I’m content here and I don’t want to go to a nursing home,” she said.