Margaret Cain smiles alongside her great-great-granddaughter, Payton Johnson, a pre-kindergartener at the Apalachicola Bay Charter School. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
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Margaret Cain celebrates her century

At her 100th birthday party Friday afternoon in Apalachicola, Margaret Cain offered some advice on longevity to her granddaughter Jessica Scott.

“Just marry a man who loves you,” she told her. “And live with the Lord.”

Cain has been fortunate to have enjoyed both of those things, and while her body is frail and her voice soft, her mind remains vigorous and strong, as she greeted a steady stream of visitors at the Fellowship Baptist Church three days before she reached the centenarian mark.

The party was a day before her daughter Linda turned 76, and together with her husband Paul Maloy, she and her sister Catherine Scott and brother-in-law William Scott, and their extended families were all on hand for the celebration.

In fact there were five generations of the family on hand, Margaret Cain, daughter Linda, granddaughter Catherine Butler, great-granddaughter Samantha Johnson, and great-great-granddaughter Payton Johnson, a pre-kindergartener at the Apalachicola Bay Charter School.

Five generations of the Cain family, with Margaret Cain, seated, and from left: daughter Linda Maloy, granddaughter Catherine Butler, great-granddaughter Samantha Johnson, and great-great-granddaughter Payton Johnson. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith stopped by and brought a present of a small red-and-white blue comforter, which should come in handy on a cold night at Margaret’s residence at the Shores Care and Rehabilitation Center in Port St. Joe.

Cain’s life story reflects the history of the last century in Apalachicola as it weathered the Depression, sent its soldiers and sailors off to war as part of the Greatest Generation and blossomed into a leading Gulf of Mexico spot for the seafood industry.

The daughter of Catherine Brown and Manley Babb, she entered the world at the family home on Avenue F, delivered by Dr. George Weems the day after Christmas in 1923, during an era when Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States.

Fifteen months later, Cain’s mother would pass away, leaving her and her siblings in the care of her father. He invited his brother and sister-in-law Fred and Evelyn Babb to move in with them, and the extended family became one.

Growing up just around the corner from the Chapman Schools on U.S. 98, young Margaret “could hear the first bell at her house and be in school by the second bell,” she said. 

On the eve of America’s entry into World War II, she fell in love with a man of the sea, Terrell Cain, from Eastpoint, and after he enlisted in the Navy, she left school and took a train to Seattle, Washington to join him there.

Terrell Cain, in his Navy uniform, and Margaret Cain in March 1945 in Seattle, Washington. [ Catherine Scott | Contributed ]

By age 20 she had married him, and while his boat captaining skills landed him a job ferrying prisoners of war at the West Coast point of embarkation, she got a civilian job working as a typist.

After the war, the young married couple returned home to Apalachicola, as Terrell worked in the seafood industry. For more than three decades he worked for George Kirvin, at times on the legendary “Four Kids” mullet net boat.

Later he would pilot the “Captain Terrell” shrimp boat, while his wife handled the bookkeeping duties, at times traveling down to Key West and Miami to be with him following one of his fishing trips.

The couple stayed married up until his passing about 15 years ago, and since then Margaret has remained pretty independent.

She was honored earlier this year as the Pageant Queen at Shores Care Center and at her birthday party last week, she proudly wore the beautiful jeweled tiara that had been bestowed her.

Still, even with the sparkling bling on her brow, Margaret knows what her most valuable possession is.

“My children mean everything to me,” she said.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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