CARBONDALE, Ill. — Ruth Parker chose to celebrate her 101st birthday at her favorite spot: her local Taco Bell.
She needed a new place to read her paper and drink coffee when she moved from Florida to Southern Illinois 18 years ago.
“They said ‘well, we don’t serve coffee, but my, one of the help brought instant coffee, we’ll make you a cup,'” she remembers.
Parker’s been coming back twice a week, like clockwork, for the last 18 years. Store manager Rebecca Gefro said every employee goes out of their way to be nice to “Miss Ruth.”
“No matter what, we all know Miss Ruth and we all make her a part of our lives and, you know, we talk to her and we just love her to death,” Gefro said.
Parker said the feeling is mutual.
“And Becky is a doll. She is a wonderful, wonderful person,” she said.
In all her years frequenting the fast food joint, Parker is pretty sure she’s had everything on the menu – but she does have a new favorite.
“Right now I’m hooked on their taco fries. They’re delicious!” she said.
Though they’ll probably see her again in a few days’ time, Gefro and crew are already looking forward to Parker’s next birthday fiesta.
“We’ll see her at 102 next year, and we’re gonna make it even bigger!” she said.
Parker plans to be there as well.
“I feel alright for being 101 I guess, haha,” she said.