Salt Lake west-side resident Ivy Brooks, who turned 106 on March 27, has lived in three centuries. She's a living treasure.

According to Lee Ann Whitaker, office specialist for the state Division of Aging and Adult Services, Brooks recently became the second-oldest Utahn ever. San Juan County's John Joe Begay was 116 when he died in 2001.

Whitaker reports Utah has 119 centenarians, with the three most populated counties — Salt Lake, Utah and Davis — having the most people at 100 or more, respectively.

Brooks, a native of Bradford, Yorkshire, England, was born when William McKinley was president and about a year after the Spanish-American War ended. Early Major League Baseball superstar Honus Wagner was still a couple of years away from being immortalized on a baseball card.

Automobiles had been around for only a few years and hardly anyone knew anything or cared about nondescript inventors Wilbur and Orville Wright. America was still mostly rural and horses were the usual mode of transportation for the day.

Brooks, the third of Ralph and Mary Whitaker's eight daughters and the only family member still alive, was born in 1900, the last year of the 19th century. She was a pretty girl who loved Bible stories, and played the piano and violin in church and other social settings.

Brooks saw her first airplane fly above Bradford in 1913. "Everyone was afraid it was going to fall down" and crash, she says now, her eyes wide with anxiety.

Bradford was also known for its frigid cold, said Ralph Shutt, Brooks' nephew. Referring to the well-known LDS hymn, "The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning," Brooks' sister Doris apparently said, "I hope something is burning, because I'm freezing" in the church.

The industrial town was also the home of the John Holliday and Sons textile mill. When Brooks left Holliday, she received a letter of commendation from the owner himself, which she still has. It applauds her for being "regular, attentive and capable, everything we could desire. We are extremely sorry she's leaving us."

When King George V and Queen Mary visited Bradford, Brooks was a carpet weaver with the new velvet loom. The king, nearby to push the loom's start button, was so close "I could have reached out and touched him," but didn't, said Brooks. Being so close to royalty is one of her favorite memories.

No doubt her weaving experiences helped in later employment at Utah Woolen Mills.

Soon after moving to America in 1923, Brooks played the piano for silent movies at the Salt Lake LDS 16th Ward.

In one of her scrapbooks, Brooks has a 1954 photo of her standing with her sisters. One sister, Barbara, was the subject of a 1954 newspaper story headlined 'English Genealogist Finds 22,000 Names' at the LDS genealogical library in Salt Lake City.

Brooks has lived on the west side for 53 years, or half her life. "It's a privilege to live so long," she said. She's also glad to have "always obeyed" the LDS Church's health code, The Word of Wisdom, and is glad to have her own home.

While unable to fulfill household duties like she once did, she's still in remarkably good health. "What amazes me is that she never complains or aches," Shutt said. "She doesn't even take aspirin, but just a blood pressure pill."

Her youngest son, Byron Brooks, said his mom "made the best fish and chips I ever tasted and the best Thanksgiving dinners."

Until about 2004, Brooks' handiwork included crocheting afghans. Now, she spends time conversing with relatives, reading country magazines and watching TV with subtitles.

Four of her sisters lived past 90, including sister Hannah, who died at 102.

Her long life isn't without tragedy. Four years ago, her beloved oldest son, Fred Mason, died of cancer at 75. "It was terrible," she said. "I miss him terribly." Fred was only 18 weeks old when his father, Harry, died.

After they moved moving to Salt Lake, it was so cold one night that the water froze from the tap to the bottom of the sink in a long icicle. The tap was on so the water wouldn't freeze, but it froze anyway.

In her eventful life, Brooks hasn't missed much. When she was a youngster, her blind father walked their family almost a mile to see the magic of an electric light bulb. As electricity became more commonplace in her life, her appreciation of it grew.

Brooks' gratitude for her parents increased as she saw them deal with adversity. For example, her father, blinded at 6, attended blind school and later became a piano tuner. He passed his musical talent on to his daughters, and young Ivy learned to love the piano.

Meanwhile, her mom was president of the area's LDS Relief Society for 12 years.

Despite blindness, Ralph Whitaker "could find his way anywhere in Bradford," said Shutt. "When it was foggy, he used to lead the missionaries home."

Shutt also tells the story that Whitaker built a bathtub, which doubled as a bench with a lid, similar to a window seat. Once when two of the Whitaker girls were bathing together, Whitaker answered the door, apparently unaware his daughters were in the tub.

The visitor came in and "T "they started screaming," sunk down and shut the lid, laughed Shutt. "Their mother shooed the man out."

The laughable scene, unplanned by Whitaker, seemed to be characteristic of his humor. "He said it was best to be blind with eight daughters," Shutt chuckled. "Aunt Hannah said she didn't know he was blind until she was 6."