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110-year-old Hollis woman toasts birthday with poem

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With her 85-year-old son, Stanley, by her side in a Hollis nursing home, Maud Scott, who turned 110 on Monday, recited a poem from memory that she wrote while in her early 90s.

Called “Artie Boy,” the poem recalls her younger brother, Arthur, and their childhood growing up in Brooklyn more than a century ago.

“Life is something,” reflected Scott, who has lived in the Hollis Park Manor Nursing Home since 1999. “To think I could say a poem like I was reading it off a wall.”

Scott, surrounded Sunday by her son, longtime family friend Beatrice Antonin and countless nurses who take care of the woman born during the presidency of William McKinley, described what life was like when she was a child.

Just one day before her actual birthday, she came out to address the media and answer questions as the oldest person alive in both the state and city, according to Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis).

“I feel the same,” said Scott, a lifelong housewife, while laughing about her age. “Life has been just about the same since 100.”

But behind Scott’s modesty, which she showed several times when asked about her age and the differences between 2004 and 1904, is a woman who loves to write poetry, play the piano, go dancing and take care of her three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Stanley, the oldest of Scott’s three sons, could not attribute his mother’s longevity to anything specific. Instead, he described the family’s other old-timers, including Scott’s parents, who both lived to be 91. Scott’s husband is not alive.

Born in Brooklyn, Scott is the daughter of parents who were of African-American and Shinnecock Indian ancestry. Her father, a diamond setter and goldsmith, moved her and her family between Brooklyn and Huntington, L.I., Stanley said.

Scott came to the nursing home in Queens almost five years ago, which is just blocks from another son’s Springfield Gardens home.

“She’s a very intelligent woman,” Antonin said of Scott, who could not vote for the first few years of her adult life because women were excluded from the electoral process until August 1920.

Weprin, who came to present Scott with a proclamation, said he has planned a ceremony at City Hall Feb. 4 to honor the Hollis resident. At the ceremony, which will occur during the City Council’s regular meeting, Scott will also meet Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“We believe that Mrs. Scott is not only the oldest woman in the city but also in the state,” Weprin said.

Scott, though, seemed more interested in all her visitors than having reached the 110-year milestone. She described her past, which included a tale about the dance studio where her uncle taught and where she used to take lessons.

“You dance?” she asked a reporter, who said yes. “I love it, too. He (my uncle) wouldn’t even charge me!”

Scott, who is confined to a wheelchair, said she used to do the two-step and take lessons in ballroom dancing.

As for her poetry, Scott said she woke up one morning at 9 a.m. when she was about 95 and thought to herself that it was a shame she had never been a poet. It was that thought that prompted her to write the poem about her brother Arthur.

“That was the very first poem I wrote,” Scott said.

After several questions about how living life has changed during her 110 years, Scott shrugged and took the side of progress.

“Things have to be different; they can’t always stay the same.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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