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‘Sunshine Lady’ Turns 100

Chester
Collin Hall

Chester, a 13-year-old Schnoodle, came to celebrate Carla Krouse’s 100th birthday.

By Collin Hall

NORTH CAPE MAY – A lot has changed on the peninsula in the 77 years that Carla Krouse, who turned 100 May 28, has lived here. 
Over 50 friends, family members, and neighbors came to Carla’s home in North Cape May to congratulate her on a century of life. 
A joyous rendition of “Happy Birthday” was sung, with one of Krouse’s family members adding “and many more” to the end of the tune.
“But not too many more,” someone quipped from the back of the group, which gathered on Krouse’s front lawn on a sunny Sunday afternoon, June 4.
Krouse’s daughter, Barbara, said that the party had been in the works for almost a year. 
“People came from all over to be here today,” she said.
Barbara moved to Cape May County when she was three years old and has since moved to Delaware, but her mother has remained a loyal Cape May County local for over seven decades.
Krouse recalled those first years of life in Cape May in a brief interview with the Herald. 
“I moved to the county with my husband. He got a job here and we rented a small apartment in Cape May,” she said. “It cost about $35 a month then.”
Now, Krouse lives in North Cape May, where she is the talk of the town.
“I just can’t say enough good about her,” said Jane Powers, one of Krouse’s neighbors. “She is our sunshine lady. Whenever somebody falls ill or goes through a tough time, she’s the one who makes sure everyone sends them a card.”
Powers met Krouse five years ago at one of the neighborhood’s many block parties. But other neighbors, including Joan Payne from just up the road, have known her much longer. 
“Carla was one of the first people I met when I moved here,” Payne said, her pet Schnoodle, Chester, by her side.
Ina Brown has known Krouse for even longer. She said she has known Krouse since childhood. 
“I am the person I am today because of her,” Brown said. “She was like a second mother to me.”
A line formed in front of Krouse as friends, many of whom had not seen Krouse in years, waited to give her a tearful hug or some other expression of affection.
In her nearly eight decades of life here, Krouse said, “So, so much has changed. It’s gotten a whole lot more expensive, for one.” 
She said that most of the changes she has observed took place in Cape May proper. She watched as once-grand Victorian homes fell into disrepair and then skyrocketed back up in value as the town went through a renaissance in recent years.
Notably, none of the food at the party was catered despite the large crowd. Family members helped put together sandwiches, cupcakes, fruit displays, light snacks, and a grand chocolate cake for the occasion.
The party at Krouse’s house was her fourth birthday celebration this spring. Each one gathered friends and family from different groups in her life. One took place at Lucky Bones, another at Duffinetti’s, and another with other friends from her community. 
This fourth party – with balloons, homemade food, and immense effort poured out from her family – was the cherry on top.   

Do you have any memories of Carla Krouse? Did you attend her birthday? Email the author at chall@cmcherald.com

Content Marketing Coordinator / Reporter

Collin Hall grew up in Cape May County and works as a content manager for Do The Shore, as well as a reporter. He currently lives in Villas.

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