Parade to celebrate man’s 105th birthday

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 3, 2020

Friends and family celebrated a Poplarville man’s 105th birthday Wednesday night with a parade of cars past his home.

Oscar Norman Bolton reached the 105 milestone on Wednesday, July 1. Due to the pandemic, friends and family could not hold a traditional celebration. Instead, a parade of cars went past his house while Bolton watched from his front doorway. It included police cars, a fire truck and loved ones in cars with signs wishing him happy birthday as they drove past.

One of Bolton’s grandsons, Deandrayous Bolton, said that after the parade some of the immediate family had birthday cake with him.

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Bolton moved to Poplarville at a young age and grew up in the town. He and his late wife Paulin had seven children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His current home is also where his mother and father lived, said Asia Bolton, one of his great-grandaughters.

“He’s such a kind person,” she said. “He would literally give the shirt off of his back and the shoes that he’s wearing to somebody else.”

Bolton served in law enforcement in Poplarville and still has his badge, said Asia Bolton. Along with serving in law enforcement, Bolton was a local business owner.

“He was the first African American to have a business in Poplarville,” she said.

Bolton owned a fish market. He used to fish frequently on the coast and bought fish at fish markets there, before he started his own business. During his life he also worked as a chauffeur for a doctor and as a chef, she said. He was well known for his barbecue goat.

Over the course of his 105 years Bolton has experienced segregation, some severe racism and witnessed the civil rights movement, said Asia Bolton.

“He’s literally living history right now,” she said. “Being on this earth for over 105 years, he’s seen a lot, he’s heard a lot, he learned a lot and I hope to be close to making it that far. His daddy was 105 when he died and my papa tells me, ‘I ain’t kicking the bucket no time soon,’ so y’all going to be seeing more of him next year.”

Bolton has told her stories about having to use the back entrance to go to the movie theater, drinking from segregated water fountains and about the laughing barrels that were throughout town.

“If an African American person was walking down the way, they’d have to hold their laugh in. They’d stick their head in the barrel, get the laugh out and then be along their way,” said Asia Bolton.

He also taught his great-grandchildren practical skills, like how to pluck a chicken. He kept chickens and ducks on his farm, she said. One of her favorite memories was after one of the ducks attacked one of her cousins.

“We came back and told papa,” she said. “Next thing you know we come back maybe an hour later and we see the duck is in a pan. So he got rid of the duck and he cooked it up for us. It was pretty good.”

Bolton loves life, family, his community and God, said Deandryous Bolton.

“As soon as he wakes up in the morning he says, ‘glory be to God.’ He says, ‘thank you Jesus for waking me up.’ He’s always praising and thanking God for allowing him to see another day, to see another year,” said Deandryous Bolton.

One of Bolton’s daughters Linda Gail Bolton, his granddaughter Joy Bolton and a home health nurse Shree Roberts care for him.