At 100, bowler still finds time at the lanes

MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — Wind chills near zero weren’t enough to keep Madeline Matheny away from Holiday Lanes on Tuesday. She had just turned 100, and she wanted to bowl.

“Enjoy each day to the fullest,” Matheny said. “That’s what I do. I don’t have a future; I have a past and a present. That’s it. I can’t put off to tomorrow what I should be doing today. So I don’t.”

Matheny, the former owner-operator of Mari-Mad’s Youth Specialty Shop on Manchester’s Main Street, celebrated her centennial on Monday quietly with family. She said hitting 100 doesn’t feel too different from being 99, or 90, for that matter, but she said she was grateful for all she’s gotten to experience.

Matheny said she hadn’t bowled before her retirement, but now she plays twice a week with a league of other retirees.

“I like the challenge of it,” Matheny said, noting that she doesn’t have quite the same arm strength that she used to. “And the people are wonderful.”

Bowling is part of her plan to keep active, along with a weekly game of bridge with friends. Until last summer, she was topping off that routine with regular games of golf.

Born Madeline Ferris on Jan. 21, 1919, Matheny grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Her parents emigrated from Lebanon around the turn of the century, and Madeline was one of their 11 children. Her eldest sister, Elizabeth, lived to be 102.

Matheny said one of her earliest memories was having her uncle take her photo in the backyard of the family condo, during the age of the Kodak Vest Pocket Camera that was popular with soldiers in World War I.

Her father ran a department store in Chicopee with his brother after years of working as a peddler. Madeline went to college for home economics and worked as a teacher before moving to Manchester with her husband and two children in 1954.

She and her sister Mary opened up a specialty store for youth clothing, combining their two names to come up with “Mari-Mad’s.”

They opened at 691 Main St. and later moved to 757 Main St., and although her sister eventually left the business, Matheny kept shop until 1988. Her son, Mark Matheny, now operates MFM Engineering and Design Services out of the space.

She still runs into former customers and their children around town, as well as former students, she said, which helps her stay connected, plus her son and daughter, three granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren.

For Thanksgiving, Matheny prepared and cooked the turkey for more than 20 people at her family dinner. The younger generations took care of the sides.

“I’m a very lucky person,” Matheny said. “I’ve had a good life. I didn’t think I would make it to 100.”

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