Interview, Cynthia Fitzpatrick

November 6, 1979

Cynthia Fitzpatrick (ca. 1865-1983) was about 114 years old at the time of this interview. She was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, to parents who were slaves. They passed away when she was nine and she was raised by her aunt and uncle. Fitzpatrick remembers attending school as a child and living in poor conditions. She married her husband, Bryce, when she was in her early twenties, and they moved to Helena, Arkansas, where they raised three children. Fitzpatrick’s husband died in 1954 and she moved to Rochester to live with her daughter. Every winter, Fitzpatrick travelled to Florida to stay with her daughter and escape the cold. She was an active member of the Rochester Senior Citizens Group and an honorary member of Action for a Better Community. Fitzpatrick has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America. At the time of this interview, she was considered to be the oldest living woman in the United States. She died on February 22, 1983, at the age of 118.

In this interview, Fitzpatrick talks about her early life in Mississippi, how Rochester has changed, and her appreciation for the Rochester community. Fitzpatrick remembers being poor as a child and how her family had to get its water from a stream. She recalls that they never celebrated Christmas or received presents for their birthdays and that the only things they had to play with were sticks. Fitzpatrick notes that when she first came to Rochester in the 1950s, she felt safe sitting outside on her front porch, but that at the time of her interview, she was afraid to sit outside because of an increase in the “robbing and killing” in the city. Fitzpatrick reports that she prefers Rochester to any other place and that she is grateful to be involved with the Senior Citizens Group.

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  • 1970s