In 1938, Tennessee native, Adelaide Cummings, resigned her post as a reporter for Life magazine to travel the world for a year with her mother, Martha. The pair visited Adelaide’s twin brother, Joe, who was stationed with the U.S. Army in Manila. They met John Foster Dulles and his wife Janet aboard a cruise liner and Adelaide played Ping Pong with the future secretary of state. Along the way, she wrote a series of travel articles that were published back in the states; one of these brought the mother-daughter duo to Jaipur, a desert city in Northern India, and an interview with the region’s maharaja, or king. Adelaide was writing a piece about the maharaja and his beloved polo team for Spur, a popular coffee-table magazine of the time.

Falmouth’s poet laureate reflects on 100 years of memories and achievement

Following the interview, the maharaja arranged a tiger hunt in Adelaide’s honor. Though she participated in the outing, Adelaide asked the maharaja—whose authority at the time included power of life and death over his subjects—to spare the large cat’s life. Many miles from Memphis, Manhattan, or any magazine headquarters, the maharaja honored her request. Reflecting on that moment—more than seven decades hence—Adelaide is proud of what she accomplished. “I saved,” she says, “that tiger’s life.”

Adelaide Cummings

On June 6, 2014, Adelaide Cummings of Falmouth celebrates her 100th birthday, and friends and family are preparing a party to write home about. For some perspective, Adelaide’s birth in 1914 came about six weeks prior to the opening of the Cape Cod Canal and the start, in Europe, of World War I.

In a recent interview at her home in West Falmouth, Adelaide discussed one of her life’s great passions—writing—and shared some fascinating adventures from her journalism career and travels as well as some of her exploits in the game of tennis.

“Seems to me I always wrote,” Adelaide says, “[I was] always scribbling something. I didn’t have any other talent. It had to be that.”