Neighborly birthday celebration for Amesbury centenarian

Anna Bradley turned 100 years old on Tuesday.Courtesy photo

AMESBURY — It’s not every day a neighbor hits the century mark so a Lindbergh Avenue family wanted to celebrate the special birthday in style.

Anna Bradley turned 100 years old on Tuesday and her three children, daughters Patty Bradley and Billie McLane and son Stephen Bradley, have spent the past month planning for her birthday celebration.

But Bradley’s neighbors, Stephanie and Greg Martin also wanted to get in on the celebration, so Stephanie approached a group of local businesses including Vermette’s Super Market, Willie Jo & Woodie’s, Eighteen Friend Street, and Simply Salon to see if they would set up boxes in their stores where people could drop off birthday cards.

“I didn’t just want to put in her name and address out on the internet,” Stephanie Martin said. “So I put out the boxes in local businesses.”

The local business owners agreed to the idea but Simply Salon owner Jillian Collins went a step further and bought 100 pre-printed birthday cards on Amazon.

“We got a good deal, it was less than $50 for over 100 cards,” Collins said. “Every single client who walked in, whether they knew Anna or not, wanted to know her story. They filled out cards and dropped them in the box. It was awesome.”

More than 100 birthday cards were collected and the Martins delivered them to Bradley on Thanksgiving.

“I thought it was great,” Bradley said. “I was really surprised. I didn’t expect all of those cards. It was so nice of all of those people to send them.”

Martin said Bradley and her family have been excellent neighbors.

“My in-laws have been in this house for over 30 years so my husband grew up with her kids and they all know each other,” Martin said. “There is a real sense of community and they are such a wonderful family. We wanted to do something a little nice for her.”

Martin said she makes it a point to do random acts of kindness to set a good example for her nine-year-old daughter Madison.

“I want her to see the generosity and the love that is shared when you reach out and you do something selflessly for someone else,” Martin said. “It was really about teaching her to go the extra mile for someone else.”

McLane said the neighborly gesture was a complete surprise to her mother.

“She was just shocked,” McLane said. “It really brought her to tears. It was heartwarming. She also got to see everybody on Facebook wishing her a happy birthday and there were other people who sent cards to the house.”

Bradley is a first-generation Italian-American and has lived in the same Lindbergh Avenue home for almost her entire life.

“She moved here at 4 years old,” McLane said. “And, for about 15 years we lived on Friend Street but we moved back and she has lived in this house for all but 17 years of her life.”

When asked if she had any secrets to share about living to 100, Bradley didn’t have too much to say Tuesday.

“No, not really,” she said. “It’s just living a good life, I guess. Having good parents and getting a good start in life.”

Both of Bradley’s daughters said they hope they have as much longevity as their mother.

“We certainly hope so,” McLane said. “But we also hope that we can do it the same way that she did. She has been healthy all along.”

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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