Mae Belle is the oldest, by a mere two minutes. But when you're 100 and identical twins and still have your wits about you, who's counting?
Mae Belle Powell and Mary Belle Roach look exactly alike, talk alike and finish each other’s sentences. They also butt in if one thinks the other isn’t telling the unvarnished truth.
After turning 100 on March 25, they’ve done one media interview after the other – including an appearance on Today.
How do they feel about being famous?
“I don’t think we’re famous. I just think we’re old,” Mary told InsideEdition.com, with a snort of laughter.
The sisters live in their mother’s house in Symsonia, Kentucky, where they grew up. They’ve spent their lives in this town, except for the World War II years when their husband went off to battle and they headed up to Detroit to work in wartime factories.
Mary said she considered herself “Rosie the Riveter,” but her employers did not. “I couldn’t rivet very well, “she concedes, and so she was reassigned.
“We were just little country girls that went to the big city,” she said. And the sisters took in everything they could – museums, movies, dances. “We saw every big band that came to the city,” she says proudly.
The sisters in Detroit in the 1940s.
After the war, back home in northeastern Kentucky, the sisters taught school. Their classrooms were just across the hall from each other. They had children. They got older. Their kids grew up and moved away. Their husbands died.
They decided to share their mother’s house, which sits next door to their church. Every morning, they go the church’s gym, where they walk for 30 minutes. “We used to walk an hour a day,” says May.
Niece Judy Lyles says the women “mowed their own yards until two years ago.” They gave up driving last year. Friends, family and church folk take them where they need to go and bring over food and whatnot.
It’s not unusual for the sisters to come home to find that their cupboards have been filled by members of their church.
“Our roots are in that church,” says Mary.
She is asked what the ladies do after their daily workout. “We’re always busy,” she says. “We go, go, go.”
Mae cuts in. “She watches TV all day and I read a book.
Much laughter follows.
They have travelled to all 50 states, visited eight countries in Europe and vacationed in Tahiti.
The twins during a visit to New Orleans.
The secret to living to 100, Mae says, is “good genes.”
“Our mother lived to be 97,” she said.
“We didn’t smoke cigarettes. We didn’t smoke that pot. We never drank beer.”
After teaching three generations of students, the sisters had a big turnout at their church birthday party.
Afterwards, “It took us two and a half hours to open all the birthday cards,” Mary said. “That’s how many there were.”