At age 102, Maria Mildred (Millie) Cristaldi Gibboni is a centenarian who can look back on a life filled with the warm blessings of family. Born at home on March 8, 1912, Millie was one of nine children. Her mom devoted full time to raising her large family in a Glenside, Pennsylvania home built by her dad, who owned Crisaldi & Sons, a construction company.
Since her toddler years Millie grew to love summer vacations in Stone Harbor at the Jersey Shore. Although today Stone Harbor is a mecca for summer vacationers, in 1918 the Cristaldi’s beach house was one of only two on the block. At age 12, anxious to spread her wings and declare her independence, Millie got behind the wheel of one of her dad’s trucks, fully intending to navigate it correctly. But … the misadventure caused her to flatten her father’s beloved peach tree and plow through the family’s garage door. Millie might have been taking a page from the book of her favorite actress, Pearl White, a silent screen star in the very popular “Perils of Pauline” serials.
Driving adventures aside, Millie proved to be a good student and an avid reader who received accolades for her impeccable penmanship. She graduated from Glenside Weldon Elementary School and entered Abington High School where she became a valuable member of the basketball, swim and tennis teams. With her sights set on becoming a gym teacher, Millie attended Beaver College (now Arcadia University) in Glenside. However, three months later, Millie’s mom became ill and the new college co-ed left school to care for her mother and two siblings still at home.
About this time, a young man entered Millie’s life – Angelo Gibboni, whose father was a friend of Millie’s father. The families knew each other and in the Italian-American culture, that was a very good thing. On their first date, Angelo invited Millie to the brand new Keswick Theater in Glenside.
A courtship ensued and the two wed in St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church, Glenside on November 28, 1932. “It was a beautiful, sunny day,” Millie recalls. The reception was held at the Cristaldi home with a sit-down dinner amid fig trees and grape vines. They honeymooned in Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas and then on to New York City for three days of cabarets.
Later, Angelo and Millie became the parents of three daughters: Ann, Joanna and Chris. She looks back on this part of her life as “the most joyous and fulfilling.” Millie’s beloved Angelo passed away in 1997. Today at The Shores, Millie is a champion bridge player and still enjoys shopping. She still wears a coat she purchased 60 years ago at her favorite retailer, Lord & Taylor.
Having celebrated more than a century of birthdays, this wise, gentle woman would tell the younger generations to “put God first. With God,” she says, “you can do anything.” Millie advises young people to “be honest, truthful, and be yourself.”