Port Richmond woman reaches 101 years old

Mary “Mam­ie” Celebre

Mary Celebre has lived in the neigh­bor­hood her en­tire life, and said she still feels like a teen­ager.

Mary Celebre has lived in Port Rich­mond through ten dec­ades — she’s seen the neigh­bor­hood go through pro­hib­i­tion, the Great De­pres­sion, wars, ad­vances in in­dustry, mu­sic and cloth­ing styles, and the ever-in­creas­ing changes that simply come with the passing of time.

She’s seen loved ones and fam­ily pass on, but to this day keeps her­self sur­roun­ded by friends.

Dozens of those friends, in fact, were present to cel­eb­rate her 101st birth­day Dec. 4 at the Rizzo PAL in Port Rich­mond.

The main thing she had to say about the neigh­bor­hood?

“It looks the same, I’ll tell you,” Celebre said with a laugh as she noshed on pizza. The cen­ten­ari­an — plus one — who most call “Mam­ie,” said that through most of her long life, she liked to work.

She worked in a sta­tion­ery fact­ory when she was young, fa­vor­ing her job above her stud­ies. The first school she at­ten­ded in Port Rich­mond was what is now Charles Car­roll Ele­ment­ary.

“I hated school,” she said. “I wanted to work.”

She also said she en­joyed the out­doors when she was grow­ing up.

“As long as I was out­side, I was al­right,” she said.

Celebre’s moth­er and fath­er were born in Italy, and she said she spoke some Itali­an with them when she was young­er. Port Rich­mond, she said, was like a “Little Italy” years ago.

Now, she lives with her daugh­ter, Frances, and grand­daugh­ter, Al­lis­on, on Somer­set Street. Though she said the neigh­bor­hood looks mostly the same as it did when she was grow­ing up, she did speak of the shops and land­marks that have long since dis­ap­peared, such as a fa­vor­ite chick­en shop and the hab­er­dash­ery her late hus­band, Sal­vatore, owned.

Celebre was mar­ried at Moth­er of Di­vine Grace church when she was 21.

“I had a good mar­riage,” she said. “He [hus­band Sal­vatore] played jokes on every­one.”

Now that her four broth­ers and one sis­ter have all passed away, Celebre treas­ures the time she spends with her liv­ing chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

She said she is a big Fly­ers fan, and showed off the Fly­ers key­chain she car­ries in her purse.

Asked the secret to her long life, Celebre just laughed. A friend sit­ting  nearby leaned in and said, “She just got up every morn­ing.”

“I feel 16,” Celebre said, and smiled.

Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­on@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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