If it's 5:30 p.m. on a Monday, you know where Alyce Carothers is. The 102-year-old Ocoee resident has a table reserved for her near the front door of Frank's Place, a sports bar on Clarke Road in Ocoee.
For seven years (and maybe more), Alyce has been a regular, sipping her martini — vodka and olives, never vermouth — and nibbling on a plate of chicken wings or chicken tacos.
“She loves attention with the men, and (owner Frank Ruppert) always comes over and calls her Mama,” said Alyce's niece, Susan Allen. “All the guys come in there and hug her and kiss her and want to buy her a drink. We have to say no.”
Monday evenings aren't Alyce's only chance to sip a cocktail. She's also a regular at the Wine Down Wednesday Happy Hour in the facility where she lives now: the Inspired Living assisted-living facility, also in Ocoee.
“She's here for that every Wednesday, like clockwork,” Allen said. “They serve them cheese, fruit, crackers with their wine. (They) have to limit them to two glasses; she always wants a third.”
The martini has been Alyce's favorite since she was old enough to drink. In fact, she attributes her long life to drinking wine and martinis.
Besides her spirits, another constant in Alyce's life is the ring she keeps on the middle finger of her left hand. This signet ring bearing the initials RGC belonged to her late husband, Robert “Glenn” Carothers,” a World War II veteran who died in 1990. She said he always wore it on his pinky finger.
It means more to her now since her double platinum wedding ring was stolen some time back.
She met Glenn at Wilkinsburg High School, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a grade ahead of her; she graduated in 1933.
She worked for U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh until around 1940, when she and Glenn were engaged to be married. After several job-related moves and his retirement in 1965, the couple moved to Florida. They celebrated 50 years of marriage before his death.
Alyce never had children but loved her sisters' children as her own. She lived with one, Les Allen, and his wife Susan, for a while in Ocoee before moving to a room at the facility just down the road.
Not one to forego a celebration of any kind, Alyce was feted in grand style for her 102nd birthday. She received flowers from her friend in England, who normally visits each April but was unable to this year. Other friends came in for the occasion, and one made her a ring, which she wears on her right ring finger.
As it has for the last few years, Frank’s Place threw her a big party — on the house. And, yes, it included martinis.