By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Happy 102nd Birthday Ivy Morgan

On December 12, Ivy Morgan, Grayson area resident, celebrates her 102nd birthday with friends and family at a big dinner party, complete with birthday cake and music, hosted by Loganville Legacy Lions Club.  Ivy grew up in London with father Charles, a taxi driver, mother Ada, a waitress, and younger brother Leslie. 

Ivy is a joy and inspiration to everyone she meets impressing them with her pleasant smile and British dry wit.  People are amazed at her age and she tells them proudly with blue eyes twinkling, “I was born on 12-12-12, the year the Titanic went down, you know.”  

In 1927 after finishing school at age 14, she acquired a position as a shorthand/typist at Ely's Department Store of Wimbledon, which still exists today. (Even now she uses her shorthand to write notes to herself). She held this position until 1960 when she, husband Laurence, and son John emigrated to the US.    

Ivy would ride her bicycle to work everyday, and joined a co-ed cycling club, where she became one of the “hard riders.” This group would ride 100 miles on weekends and often participated in endurance races.  With her petite figure of 5 feet 2 inches, she could outride the men during the most grueling races. One of her prized possessions is a first place medal she won, beating out all the men.  She attributes her longevity to her fitness from cycling activities during these earlier years.

On July 6, 1940, as World War II was beginning, Ivy married fellow cycling club member, Laurence, a handsome aricraft engineer.  Three years later son John was born just outside London during a bombing blitz. Women who were about to give birth were taken to towns outside the city where it was safer, separating them from their husbands working in the city.

A part of Ivy's daily life included escaping with her young son to a dark basement shelter during a bombing raid.  Ivy clearly remembers hearing the whistling of the bombs as they fell and the explosions that shook the ground wondering whose house had been hit.  Many of the neighbors' houses were completely demolished while others remained unscathed.  Fortunately, her apartment house was never hit.

During and after the war, Ivy took a second job as cashier at the dog track of Wimbledon. She carried large sums of cash in a bank bag through the crowds from the betting windows to the track office.  Looking back she is so amazed she was able to do this without being robbed, but thinks that the more affluent clientele frequenting the track were less likely to be opportunistic robbers.

In 1960, friends who had emigrated to the US, invited Ivy's family to take a “holiday” to visit them in Florida.  Seeing it as impractical to spend so much money on a vacation, they decided instead to emigrate.  So, bravely, in their 40's with a teenage son, the Morgans sold their possessions, boarded a ship, sailed through New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty, entering the “New World” just as millions of emigrants had done before them. 

Traveling south, they took up residence in southern Florida, near their English friends. Ivy got a job in their insurance office and later worked for the City of Riviera Beach Water Department.  She worked for them until her middle 80's and was their oldest employee ever!   After retiring, Ivy and Laurence enjoyed several cruises, traveled around the US, and made several trips back to England.  

In July 2000, Ivy and Laurence celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with the family in the Atlanta area.  Later that year, after Laurence had passed away, Ivy, at age 88, moved from south Florida to live with son John and his wife Jan in the Grayson area.  All four grandchildren and seven great grand children, aged 7 to 17, live in the Atlanta area, and she visits them on birthdays and holidays.  

To stay young at heart, Ivy has enjoyed attending Karaoke nights with son John and dancing to a    favorite, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.  She always attracts a group of well wishers who are delighted by her spunk and English accent, and ask what is her secret to longevity. 

Ivy's other favorite activities include watching classic movies such as “Casablanca,” and “Singing in the Rain,”  listening to Dean Martin albums, reciting her favorite English poem  “The Daffodils” by William Wordsworth, and playing “patience,” the English version of solitaire.  Several times a year she visits “A Taste of Britain” a shop in Norcross where she can buy her favorite English foods and treats.  A memorable moment in history for Ivy was when King Tut's tomb was discovered in 1922, when she was just 10 years old.  Ivy was thrilled when her family took her to see many of the artifacts that came from Tut's tomb when the exhibition came to Atlanta recently.

Ivy is a member of the Loganville Legacy Lions Club, and is the oldest Lion club member in Georgia. She also attends the monthly meeting of the Grayson Seniors enjoying the lunches and playing Bingo.