When Dorothy Beabes stepped down from a CamTran bus to keep her Friday morning hair appointment, she was greeted by a red carpet and a throng of well-wishers.
Friday was Beabes’ 100th birthday, and the staff of Frank’s Hairdressing Salon at 403 Franklin St. in downtown Johnstown threw her a surprise party to mark the milestone.
Beabes was presented with a light-up tiara flashing the word “Naughty,” a bouquet of flowers, greeting cards and gift bags. That’s not to mention an array of party snacks and several birthday cakes prepared for the occasion.
“I was totally surprised,” said the Roxbury woman, who displays a remarkable amount of independence. “I have been coming here for 18 years, and everyone is so nice.”
Prior to that, she did her own hair at home.
She continues to do much of her own housework.
“Except for the heavy cleaning,” she said. ”I have a girl come in to help.”
Beabes also enjoys baking cookies and cakes, but she said her signature dish is ham potpie.
Beabes has a standing appointment every Friday at 9:45 a.m., and up until two years ago, drove the distance in her Dodge Neon.
“At 98, I figured it was time to give up driving,” she said. “I sold the Neon and now I just take the bus.”
She was born on the same day that Babe Ruth made his baseball pitching debut for the Boston Red Sox – July 11, 1914.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in my life,” she quipped. “As a little girl, it was a rarity to see an airplane.”
She remembers when televisions first came on the market and every show was in black and white. She enjoyed listening to “Amos and Andy” on the radio with her parents.
While she doesn’t own a computer, she does have a cellphone.
“I try to be careful these days,” she said.
“If someone calls who I don’t know, I tell them I speak no English.
“You can’t be too careful.”
She and her late husband, Donald C. Beabes, had one daughter, Donna Gerber of Morgantown, West Virginia. Beabes has three sons.
Beabes is a native of Hornerstown and has lived in Johnstown all her life.
She worked for 14 years as an office clerk at Replogle Moving and Storage Co. in Hornerstown.
“I left my job in 1950 when I had my daughter,” she said. “I’m old-fashioned and believe a lady should be at home with her kids as they grow up.”
She always had a love of of animals and owns a cat.
There is a history of longevity in her family.
“My grandfather died two days shy of his 102nd birthday,” she said.
The celebration continues Saturday with a family dinner at Surf n’ Turf Inn in Johnstown. There will be an open house Sunday at First Presbyterian Church,
309 Lincoln St., where Beabes is an active member.
“I volunteer to do office work or other projects to help the church,” she said.
When asked if she is a member of the choir, she rolled her eyes.
“I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket,” she said with a laugh.
The entire staff at Frank Stumpo Jr.’s salon is enamored with Beabes.
Barb Ofman of Clyde is Beabes’s hair-dresser and one of the organizers of the party.
“We have the same people come in here every Friday, and we are truly like a family,” Ofman said. “Beabes is an inspiration to all of us.”
Beabes attributes her long life to staying active.
“We were always ice skating, roller skating, skiing or dancing,” she said. “I loved to waltz.”
After Beabes got gussied up and had her hair combed out, the staff and friends sang “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” which brought tears of joy to her eyes.
Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Tom LavisTD.