Bonnie Allen is the happiest woman in Chickasaw. Anybody who’s ever entered her marvelously decorated home or met her impossibly sweet husband Horace has reached the same conclusion. Though the couple has a great-granddaughter in college, don’t you dare call them old. “I’m not gonna say we’re elderly, ” Bonnie says. “Our age is elderly. We are not.” We found her love for life contagious; the world would certainly be a better place if everyone caught the Bonnie Allen bug.
Do you and your husband Horace often dress alike?
Do you think we go together or not? (Laughs) We started this back in the ‘70s. We were avid square dancers, and all the couples dressed alike. I started making our outfits, and we liked it so much that we still do it!
How long have you been married, and where did the two of you meet?
We’ve been married for 67 years. I don’t remember how we met, we were just in the same community. When he had his 8th birthday party, I was invited! We went to Murphy High School. I would be walking down the hall and I’d notice somebody following me, and it’d be him!
What’s the inspiration behind your decorating style?
We like to come home and be happy. When we come home and open that door, we’re so glad to be here! I’m very proud of my kitchen. I collect all kinds of old-fashioned things, like cookware. I would just advise you to do your thing!
Why the year-round holiday decorations?
When you’re young, the holidays are the happiest times of your life. So I thought, why do they have to be just special days? Why not make the holidays last all year?
What’s up with the 2002 Ford Thunderbird out front?
Sixteen years ago, I beat breast cancer. A year after that, I was celebrating life, and I saw that car on television. I had never seen anything so pretty. And I said, “I gotta have that car.” We went to the Ford dealership, and they didn’t want to sell it to us! It was the display car. So we went back three times and convinced them!
Didn’t you once do the Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day?
Well, the Polar Dip was something I decided to do when I turned 80. I heard about George Bush jumping out of an airplane (for his 90th) and I said, “I’m not gonna do that!” We went down to the Hangout, and I made a costume by pasting poinsettias
all over everything I wore. I wanted to stay in the water and swim but [Horace] kept hollering, “Get out!”
What is it like to live in Chickasaw?
It’s a wonderful community. And we’re 10 minutes from Downtown Mobile! People that are looking for a good and an economical place to live should look around Chickasaw.
What’s the secret to living a long and happy life?
I swim a lot, we exercise, we like vegetables and fruit. He drinks a little bit; I drink a little wine. We don’t get drunk! God has blessed us, and we feel it. We’re thankful every day. For every minute and every second. Life is strange but we take it and do the best we can with it. We’ve had a wonderful life — and still having it! Plus, Horace brings me my coffee every morning. That’s the secret!
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text by breck pappas • photos by Elizabeth Gelineau