For the Spears — Narragansett tribal elders — longevity is a family trait
By Karen Lee Ziner
Journal Staff Writer
Posted Aug. 14, 2016, at 9:21 PM
WESTERLY— East Providence was "just country" when the four Spears siblings were children 90 and more years ago. Milk at the farm across the road was 10 cents a gallon. Evening entertainment involved running around the block, inspired by "Tarzan" Brown, a two-time Boston Marathon winner who, like the Spears family, was a Narragansett Indian.
On Sunday, the four nonaganerians — Narragansett tribal elders — told family stories reflective of nearly 376 years' worth of collective memories. Stories of generations of cooks and chefs and restaurant owners who introduced Native American foods to the public. Life as descendants of the Niantic branch of the Narragansett Indian Nation. The importance of their tribal lands.
Eleanor Dove ("Pretty Flower"), 98; M. Shirley Mayo, two weeks shy of 90; Muriel "Mickey" Tinsley, 93, and Donald Spears, 95, reunited to attend the Narragansett Indian Tribe's 341st Annual August Meeting Powwow at the Narragansett Indian Church grounds in Charlestown.
They chatted at the home of Donna-jean Wosencroft, daughter of Muriel "Mickey" Tinsley. [Four others joined in: Eleanor's daughter, Paulla Dove Jennings; Donald's daughter, Linda Spears; Robin Riffe, also Tinsley's daughter; and Wosencroft's daughter Mikki Wosencroft, of New York].
The four siblings live independently in their own homes: Eleanor Dove in Richmond: Shirley Mayo in Connecticut; Murial Tinsley in Georgia and Donald Spears in Narragansett.
"Until a year and a half ago, I was still riding my bike," said Spears. "I was still climbing ladders."
Longevity runs in the family. Beyond being blessed with excellent genes, they ascribe that longevity to fresh, "made-from-scratch," meals. Food home-grown and harvested, hunted, and fished from the sea.