SKOWHEGAN — When Arthur Provost reflects back on turning 100 years old, as well as celebrating 77 years of marriage, he can’t quite put his finger on what the secret to either is.

Maybe it’s the weekly lobster and seafood, balanced out by lots of chocolate.

Maybe it’s the five generations of family supporting each other.

Maybe it’s his wife, Lorena, who said she always “made sure he ate what he should eat, not what he wanted to eat.”

For whatever reason, Arthur was able to celebrate a century of life and a longer marriage than many people in the area have ever heard of as he marked his birthday with family, friends and neighbors stopping by throughout the afternoon Saturday.

Lorena, 94, said they normally don’t have a big party for their birthdays, but their daughters, Judy Bossie and Sue Hinkley, said they wanted to host an open house for them to mark the day.

“And I said, ‘Oh no!'” Lorena joked.

Arthur, sitting in a lawn chair with a “Birthday Boy!” pin on his sweater, said there wasn’t much he could think of to note about his life, but with prompting and filling some of the gaps, relatives helped fill out his story.

Arthur was born in 1914 not far down from the road from his current Malbons Mills Road home. When he started going to school, he rode a horse pulling a wagon or sleigh, depending on the time of year, that held his brother.

Thanks to an introduction from a friend, Arthur and Lorena, who was from Bingham, met and were married July 1, 1937. The two moved into their home 62 years ago and have lived there ever since.

The road has changed since they first moved to their home. There are tall trees in spots where there was once a view. More homes cropped up. A school bus route runs down the road, and the two recalled one time when the bus broke down and more than 50 kids came inside their home to wait while the bus was repaired.

When Lorena was in her early 30s, she got her first electric stove after using a black coal stove her whole life. She said she remembers the day she got the stove clearly.

“Do I ever! That was the most beautiful thing I ever saw,” she recalled.

Arthur worked in woolen mills and set up machines in mills before he eventually became superintendent of the Skowhegan cemetery for 31 years.

“He loved his job,” said Hinkley. When he retired, the job was taken over by his grandson, who still works there.

After retirement, Arthur said he finally got a chance to spend more time at their camp on Moosehead Lake. He and his wife laughed out loud when their daughters reminded them of one time at the camp when they short-sheeted their parents’ bed, surprising them when they found their feet stopped short by half a folded sheet.

Relatives chimed in recounting Arthur’s favorite foods from candy, to a full cooked breakfast with bacon and eggs, to a nearly weekly lobster.

“He can put away a pound of candy a day,” said Bossie. “What’s your favorite candy, Dad?”

“Chocolate,” said Lorena before Arthur could answer. “He loves chocolate.”

Lorena said that the secret to their longevity might be their hard work ethic. They always worked hard and went to bed early, she said.

As for their long marriage?

“Because I guess that’s what God wanted,” she said. She looked to her right at Arthur and smiled. “Divorce was never a consideration.”

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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