HAMDPEN, Maine — When it was time for Edna Bragg to blow out the candles on her 105th birthday cake on Thursday, she needed a little help from her great-great-grandson, who easily conjured up the air power needed to extinguish the little flames.
Bragg was born April 1, 1905, at her family’s home in town and has spent most of her long life as a resident. The Hampden Senior Citizens, a group of active residents, threw her a birthday party at the Kiwanis Civic Center that was standing-room-only with more than 80 friends and relatives in attendance.
“It’s wonderful,” Bragg said of the party, while seated at a table decorated with balloons and flowers.
The birthday girl said the party was a great way to see family and friends, both old and new.
“A lot I’ve had for years, and others are new,” she said.
A second party is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Phillips-Strickland House in Bangor, which is where Edna now lives.
“She has five great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren” who all plan to attend Saturday’s party, said granddaughter Nancy Coyne, who traveled up from Londonderry, N.H.
Having a birthday on April Fools’ Day runs in Bragg’s family, Coyne said.
“My daughter is 35 today, and my grandson — her great-great-grandson — is 9 today,” she said.
There is one running joke that Coyne and her sister Nancy Hall of Winterport remembered playing on their grandmother.
“We always gave her empty packages,” she said.
“Every year,” added Hall.
Nowadays, Bragg is more likely to get tasty treats and fresh flowers.
“It’s tough” choosing presents for the 105-year-old, said Coyne, adding that her grandmother does like chocolate and other candy.
“She doesn’t eat it all. She has a candy dish in her room” that she uses to share her treats when people visit, Coyne said.
Bragg, the middle child of 11 siblings who all have passed, has always been a loving and giving person, her granddaughter said.
Five decades ago, when Hall and her sister were youngsters and living four doors down the road from Bragg’s Cold Brook home, “it was a community,” Hall said.
“We stayed around in our little neighborhood,” Hall recalled. “You were a big part of our lives” she told her nana.
“A lot of people in town call her Nana,” Coyne said. “My nana has seen a little bit of everything.”
Seated at the head table with Edna were her brother-in-law Howard Brown, who married her sister Constance, and her great-great-grandson, Winterport resident 7-year-old Anthony Hall, who helped her blow out the candles.
Over the last 10-plus decades, Bragg said, she has experienced a lot of changes, including when electricity first came to Hampden and when the roads were paved. The secret to her longevity, she said, is being happy in life.
“It’s hard to fathom,” all the changes, she said of her 105 years.
The most amazing thing is, “that I’m still alive,” she said.