Proud of East Texas: GI performer turns 100

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - At the age of one hundred, Evelyn Haire Cicero has a century of fond memories.

Evelyn, who was born in Memphis, always loved music.

She began playing musical instruments and singing when she was five.

"I went on the radio when I was twelve just singing and playing guitar," Cicero said.

By the time Cicero was in her teens, she had started an all-girl band called "Evelyn Haire and her Swing Time Cowgirls."

"So this show was actually broadcast on radio nationally, wasn't it?" Cicero said.

Four girls: Irene, Doris, Evelyn and Jeanne made up the group of "Swing Time Cowgirls," Cicero playing the base and guitar.

She was also the groups lead singer.

The group got their big break when they were entertaining in a Chicago nightclub.

"A manager out of New York saw our show and he came and offered us a job with the United Service Organizations, asked us to go on the USO show," Cicero said.

Although the group was recording and performing on network radio by then, it was wartime and they just couldn't turn down a chance to entertain our troops.

"The best audience that i ever played to is the service," Cicero expressed.

Cicero said the military camps were often in remote places, and most of the stages were hastily constructed.

"Then the time there in New York, I didn't know at the time, they put us on a destroyer and took us out in the ocean to some island," Cicero said.

The girls played and sang the popular songs of the day and were a big hit with the GI's

"I do remember our theme song. I want to be my cowboy's sweetheart," Cicero said.

It was as the war was ending that a young private, home on leave after the invasion of Normandy and battle of the bulge, saw her performing.  Paul Cicero made a prediction to his buddy as soon as he saw her.

"He said, see that girl up there?  He said, I'm going to marry her," Paul said.

Cicero set out to woo her with flowers and expensive dinners.

"We celebrated our 50th anniversary and he passed away the following year," Cicero said. "I miss him every day."

Having just celebrated her 100th birthday, Cicero has a lifetime of memories, with few regrets.

"I feel very fortunate...very fortunate and very blessed," Cicero said.

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