EAST MOLINE -- A kindergartner at Wells Elementary School was asked how many birthdays she had celebrated.
"Six," the little girl answered.
Then she and her classmates turned their attention to a special guest who was visiting and were told, "She's had 104 birthdays."
When Pearl Winter --''yes, just like the season," she said -- told students she was born Feb. 13, 1909, kids responded with a loud chorus of ''wows" and "ohs."
Classes of kindergarten, first-, second- and third-graders pooled their talents and resources to make Ms. Winter 104 birthday cards, which were delivered earlier in the week in time for her birthday.
"But the kids were interested in meeting her," librarian Sarah Link said.
"I heard you wanted to see what a 104-year-old woman looks like," Ms. Winter said. "Well, here I am. Take a good look at me. I even got my face on today," she said, referring to her makeup.
Ms. Link's grandmother, Doreen McGuire, 82, lives in the same apartment complex -- Luther Knoll in Bettendorf, where Ms. Winter resides.
"And my boys had met her before," Ms. Link said. "That's how we became aware of her birthday."
"And Luther Knoll's not assisted living," Ms. Winter's daughter, Doris McFarland, 83, quickly pointed out. "Mother's still taking care of herself."
"But the old gray mare ain't what she used to be," Ms. Winter said jokingly.
"I had never seen a 104-year-old person before," third-grader Summer Perkins, 8, said.
"It's amazing," classmate Larbi Moukhlis, 9, said. "This is incredible. It was fascinating to hear how she lived and what her school was like."
"But hearing she didn't have television when she was young sounded pretty boring," Summer added.
Ms. Winter answered many questions from her young crowd, explaining how she grew up on a farm in North Liberty, Iowa, and went to school in a one-room country schoolhouse.
"And when mother was younger, there were no cars," Ms. McFarland said. "She rode in a horse-and buggy.
"My daddy died when I was 9 years old," Ms. McFarland said. "So mom was a single parent for a while. There were five children, two of us are still living. Shehas 19 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 24 great-great-grandchildren."
"Wow, that's a lot of children," a third-grader in the audience said.
A second-grader asked the question that was on everyone's mind."How did you live so long," he asked.
"Hard work and a sense of humor," she answered.
Ms. Winter's visit provided a spontaneous "teachable moment" thatput hundreds of things into perspective for students, Ms. Link said.
Wells Elementary recently marked its 100th day of school, and kindergartners had just counted up to 100 earlier Friday morning, so adding four more helped them relate to Ms. Winter's age.
Along with the 104 cards she got from students, Ms. Winter received about 30 from people in her apartment building and dozens more from a card shower her family held, Ms. McFarland said.
Today is Sunday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2013. There are 23 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: For the whole of last week we have been favored with the most delightful Indian summer weather, and mercury ranging from 40 to 65 above zero. The river is entirely clear of ice and looks as mild and soft as summer. 1888 -- 125 years ago: Albert Johnson was appointed a deputy in the circuit clerk's office. 1913 -- 100 years ago: 800 or more tons of earth in six landslides covered 38th Street for a distance of 200 feet near 7th Avenue and destroyed much property. 1938 -- 75 years ago: One of the 350-foot towers, which with a new transmitter will increase the power of WHBF to 1,000 watts day and night, has been completed on a 20-acre tract at 23rd Avenue and 51st Street, Moline. 1963 -- 50 years ago: In cooperation with The Associated Press, The Argus presents to its readers a complete, beginning-to-end account of one of the most tragic and dreadful chapters in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy, available in book form, and now in preparation. The book is entitled "The Torch is Passed." 1988 -- 25 years ago: Deere & Co. stockholders received good news of a boost in their quarterly dividends from 20 to 30 cents per share of common stock. The dividend, made to stockholders of record on Dec. 30, will be payable on Feb. 1, 1989.