Cubs fans still hopeful after all these years

Thursday, January 2, 2003

DIXON, Ill. -- Mary Crombie marked her 113th New Year without ceremony on Wednesday but with familiar optimism about her beloved Cubs, notwithstanding their 94-year unlucky streak.

Following baseball's lovable losers for so long, though, has taught her not to predict a World Series victory. That hasn't happened since 1908, the year she turned 18 and Chicago beat Detroit four games to one in the fall classic.

"They will do well," Crombie declared, going no further.

Unlike the Cubs, the Dixon resident continues to impress those around her year after year. At 112, she remains largely independent while living at the Heritage Square retirement home in Dixon.

"She is remarkable," registered nurse Mary Taylor, who monitors Crombie and the other residents, said Wednesday. "She enjoys flowers and takes care of her own needs. She makes her bed every day -- and it has to be done in just a certain way."

Problems with hearing and seeing have made it more difficult for Crombie to communicate. Questions are written on white sheets of paper with a felt pen with a thick tip so she can read them.

But a visit confirms she is still sharp.

Worried about hearing

"I still have my wits," Crombie agreed in an interview earlier this week. "I am hoping the doctor will be able to find some hearing aids that will work."

The changing of years is nothing special for Crombie after experiencing so many; she went to bed early on New Year's Eve.

"My husband (Charlie) was not into celebrating New Year's Eve, so we never did anything," said Crombie, who will be 113 on July 6. "We might go to church or wish each other a good year."

People did stay up until midnight, but it was not the event that it is now. "We didn't kiss the way they do now," said Crombie. "We just wished everyone well."

Reaching such an advanced age is "no big deal" either, in her view.

"I had a twin sister, Mable, who lived to be 94," she said. "I had a brother, Joe, who reached 100."

Crombie was 16 when she got married. She has outlived three generations of her family and friends.

"The problem with getting this old is you have outlived all the people you love," she said.

As much as anything now, she loves the Cubs, who recognized her support with a birthday letter in 2001 accompanied by a plastic figurine of former Cub star Ron Santo.

"She comes alive when those games are on," Taylor said. "And she knows the players."

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