BROOKSVILLE — Nancy Pasqualino, born May 12, 1907, and Connie Pasqualino, who took her first breath June 29, 1909, were among 15 Hernando residents honored Tuesday for a century or more of living or who hope to reach that milestone in 2009.
The sisters, silver-coiffed, slim and spry — director of the county's Health and Human Services Jean Rags called them "feisty" — were both born in Brooklyn and have lived together forever.
They claim they never even quarreled as children sharing a bedroom. "We got along very well," said Nancy.
The sisters were thrilled to be part of the Centenarian Birthday Party — which is 6 years old and sponsored by the County Commission and SunTrust Bank of the Nature Coast at the bank's Brooksville office.
The Pasqualino sisters had another sibling, a sister who died 10 years ago. They recalled the days when 30 to 40 relatives would descend on their family household for special occasions, including aunts, uncles and cousins just arrived from Italy.
The sisters' paternal grandmother "took care of them all," said nephew Joseph Moresca, who is the primary caregiver in their Spring Hill home.
The women did all the cooking until a year ago, said Moresca, when they both came down with pneumonia at the same time. Lifting heavy pots is now beyond them.
"Good food," Connie said is a secret to a long life, "but not too much of it." Her favorite dishes include rice.
"Spaghetti!" insisted Nancy, true to her Italian roots. "Mother was a very good cook."
Nancy offered more advice. "Not getting married makes you live longer," she declared. Men are always telling you what to do. "Just be happy with what you have and then you'll live longer."
Predominant among the guidance offered by the other centenarians was stay in school, study hard, get a good education, listen to parents, be honest with yourself.
This year's party hosted the most celebrants to date. They and their families were treated to punch and individual birthday cakes, decorated with the honorees' favorite flowers in frosting.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.