Super Senior: Wanda Johnson - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Wanda Johnson

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Every day Carol Johnson Collins goes across the street to her mom's house.

"Hi," says Carol.

"Hi," says Wanda, Carol's mom.

Carol and her brother Cordy are regulars, not just to check up on her, but for something special.

"Everyone says I make the best potato salad!" says Wanda.

"It's so good it's one of my favorite foods," says Carol.

It's a food she rarely had as a child, because Wanda was born in Egypt.

Reporter Joe Carroll: "You have quite a love story"

Wanda: "Yes I do."

It was 1939 and she was returning to Egypt on a ship. She had just experienced the Worlds Fair in New York when a young American named Robert Johnson approached her.

"And after a few days of being on the boat of seeing each other and talking and four days before I got home in Egypt, he proposed to marry me," says Wanda.

Bob was sure of his love, but Wanda thought they should get to know each other.

"So I said maybe we correspond and we decided that what we were going to do," says Wanda.

Wanda reads from a letter Robert wrote: "you will probably think all this is the result of rashness and impetuosity and that this is a temporary attraction, that I feel for you, I assure you it isn't."

They started a correspondence and in two years they saw each other just three times. Their love bonded and with the World War II raging, Bob came to Egypt to marry her.

"You can see by the eyebrows that's there's a worry behind the smile," says Carol pointing to a family photo.

Wanda's parents disapproved, not because he was a Christian and she was a Jew, but because they were worried about her living in the US.

So they eloped.

"Yes, it was very hard because I was leaving all my family," says Wanda.

Joe asks: "After that you never saw your parents again did you?"

Wanda: "No I never, cause that was the saddest thing in my life."

Both died in their 50s, but her life moved on.

The newlyweds first settled in Bob's native Massachusetts, and later headed north.

Wanda was born in Heliopolis Egypt, which means city of the sun, so when she moved to Vermont, winters were very difficult.

"We went to Texas, thinking that I might want to live there and California, but I couldn't stand it, either California and Texas and I said let's go back to Vermont," says Wanda.

Back to the Green Mountains to a farm in West Townsend. Bob, who called his love the Queen of the East, died in 1995. They were married for 54 years. Wanda had lost her partner.

That's when Carol, an accomplished wool spinner, took her mother in. Getting her involved with the business and trying to get her mind off her grief.

They were a pair at shows for years.

Joe Carroll: "You will be 98 in January, how do you feel?"

Wanda: "Ninety-eight!"

Her body might be feeling her age, but her mind is sharp.

"I have a lot to be thankful for!" Wanda says.

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