Harsh’s father worked as a lock tender at Lock 44 near Williamsport and Harsh can remember the activity at the two-story lockhouse when she lived there from 1915 to 1937.
“I can remember boats coming through, but I didn’t think it was something wonderful. I was just a kid,” said Harsh as she celebrated her 100th birthday with at least 100 people at the Williamsport United Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon.
Harsh’s friends and family members spent about two hours during the party recounting Harsh’s life, like when she opened Williamsport’s first beauty salon.
The “Looking Glass” salon was on Conococheague Street, and Harsh’s other experiences during her long life included working in the insurance business during World War II and being a long-time Sunday school teacher at Williamsport United Methodist Church.
“I’ve been here all my whole life,” said Harsh, referring to the church, where she also served as choir director for 14 years. Harsh, known in town as “Lou,” said she was carried to the church as an infant to be baptized.
When asked what she believed led to her longevity, Harsh initially said she didn’t know. “I didn’t smoke or drink,” Harsh said.
Then Harsh said her deep faith probably paved the way for many years, as well as good genes. Her father lived until he was 98 years old.
Harsh said her friends approached her about having a party to celebrate her 100th birthday, which is actually on Thursday.
“My friends were planning it all along but it got too big for the house,” Harsh said.
Among the people who showed up for the party was Jack Myers, who grew up with Harsh in Williamsport.
Like Harsh, Myers said he believes his faith has given him a long life and led him through life’s challenges like his time in Europe in World War II.
Myers, 89, said his family used to go to dances and ocean trips with Harsh and her husband Beckley over the years.
“She’s a great lady,” Myers said.
Also at the party was Harsh’s doctor, Jill Ciccarelli.
Ciccarelli said Harsh always had stories to tell about Williamsport’s history when she came in for her appointments. Recently, Ciccarelli said she has been going to Harsh’s home for her appointments and Harsh always shows her different parts of her house and furniture that her husband made.
“She’s just an amazing woman and has a great memory,” Ciccarelli said.
Harsh’s husband died in 2001 and two of Harsh’s nephews - Dick Beckley of Lewisberry, Pa., and Mike Beckley of Middletown, Md. - sat with Harsh Sunday.