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Blanche Sheridan is Hughson's Centennial Parade Grand Marshal
Blanche Sheridan has been teased that she needs to practice her parade wave now that she's designated to be the grand marshal of the Hughson Centennial Parade on Saturday.

She's an appropriate choice. Blanche is one of the longest continuous residents of Hughson. But she also turns 100 this week, the same age as her hometown.

"They tell me I've got to wave my hands," said Blanche, rolling her hands like a Miss California. "I think it's quite an honor. I just hope I can hang on that long."

Hughson has been home to Blanche for approximately 61 years.

"I like Hughson and everybody's friendly," she said.

"Everybody knows her here," added Jerry Woodhouse, her nephew.

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sheridan will climb aboard an antique vehicle - rumor has it that it's a 1907 model - donning a red dress that is 100 years old, for the several blocks ride in the town parade. It's just one of the tributes to Hughson's past and will feature a wide range of antiques vehicles including a Wells Fargo stage coach.

"I'm taking it off as soon as the parade is over because I don't want to mess it up," said Sheridan.

Sheridan was born Sept. 19, 1907 in Angus, Neb. She grew up with two brothers on a farm in Edgar, Neb. The family was somewhat isolated so the kids made their own fun. Later she moved to Chicago and then off to California. Her father left for California, too, a victim of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression.

Blanche ended up first in San Francisco where an aunt lived. Blanche found work in the city's community centers. She came to Hughson because family was here; she thinks it was sometime after 1925.

Blanche got married to her first husband, who was in the Navy. They moved to San Diego in the 1930s but the marriage didn't work out.

"He was a gambler and you can't live like that," she said with a chuckle.

Blanche admits her life was pretty smooth but acknowledged there were "pitfalls."

"But you just get up and get going. You can't moan and groan and stuff."

Her eight-year marriage to husband John Sheridan bore her two sons, John "Tony" Sheridan of Sacramento, and Walter Sheridan of Bend, Ore. John died in the 1940s.

Blanche came to Hughson to live permanently around 1946.

Ralph Woodhead, one of her brothers, was in Hughson first. He left Nebraska looking for work and found it her. Friends of his, the Galts, ran a bank in Hughson. Her father ended up working for a feed store.

With her husband gone, Blanche learned to be a dental assistant and worked for Modesto dentist Don Easton starting in 1948. She worked 37 and a half years until his retirement. She was in her 80s before she quit working.

"When I was working, one of the guys came in and said, 'My God, are you still working?' And I worked two or three years after that."

Everyone who makes it to 100 is invariably asked the secret of longevity. For Blanche it's simple: "The main thing is to be interested and move. I don't mean you have to walk or run 10 miles but not sit down and watch TV all the time. You've got to have an interest in life. You can't just sit and vegetate."

Sometimes her anti-vegetating rule and interest collide - she loves baseball so does plop down in front of a TV to watch it, her passion. But she also likes to walk. She frequently walks the half-mile from her house on Whitmore Avenue to Hamilton's Cafe, the local hangout.

"She likes to go out and eat," said her nephew.

"About twice a week we go out to dinner," said Blanche.

Mrs. Sheridan also likes to go "shopping all day long" twice a week with her niece, Lela Bennett of Hickman. Of course, lunch is always part of the outing.

"Women can chit-chat," she said.

She does her own housework and occasionally exercises. She picks "those darn weeds that grow day and night."

At times her feistiness comes out.

"Once in a while I say a foul word. If I cut a finger or bump into something, I'll say, 'Oh damn that hurt' or ... 'what the heck, how'd I do that?"

The octogenarian also likes to travel. She loves to tag along in RV road trips with Jerry and his wife, Ester.

"One thing she does like to do is ride in the motorhome, up in the front seat," said Jerry, followed by a chuckle. "She likes to get up there to supervise the driver."

"No I don't," she rebuked him. "I don't say a word."

Looking back she feels she led a fairly quiet life.

"I haven't done anything wild and exciting," she said. "I just live day by day. When I wake up in the morning, it's 'Oh, I'm still here' and say to myself, thank you, God. I'm not a religious person but I do believe in God."