The Needle Nerd

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

She's still working away ... at 100

Mary Friese turns 100 on Saturday.
Mary Friese is busy crocheting a pink blanket for her 11th great-great-grandchild, who's expected to arrive around Christmas.
"We're not sure if it'll be a boy or a girl so after I complete this one I'll start on a blue one," said Friese, Chambersburg, who will celebrate her 100th birthday Saturday.
Blind for about 15 years, Friese is able to crochet beautiful items through touch alone. She has crocheted blankets for all her great-grand- and great-great-grandchildren and collared capes for each of her granddaughters.
Her home is filled with many of her hand-crocheted pillows and afghans, the kinds of things which she's also made for friends. She listens to tapes mailed to her from the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Pittsburgh.
A member of Mongul United Brethren Church in Shippensburg, she was a member of Falling Spring Chapter AARP and Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Auxiliary, where she made lap robes for the residents. Friese continues to attend Golden Age Club meetings and enjoys dining out.
The almost-centenarian grew up with two brothers and two sisters on a Letterkenny Township farm. She attended a one-room school with 50 to 60 students in grades one through eight, and just one teacher.
Married to Paul Friese at age 21, she worked with him on a farm during the Great Depression.
"I worked on the farm barefooted because we couldn't afford shoes for me; then the owner of the farm gave me his old shoes to wear," she said. "We didn't have enough money to buy the registration for our car so it sat in the garage."
Instead of a tractor, they used horses on the farm, she washed clothes by hand with a washboard and got water by pumping it from a well into a bucket. They had kerosene lights, used an outhouse and she never learned to drive a car.
"I remember my father telling my husband and me, 'if you work together, you'll get along,' and he was right," she said.
"I didn't expect to live to 100," said Friese who never smoked or drank liquor.
Friese has two children, Betty Kelso and Henry Friese, both of Shippensburg; nine grandchildren; 20-plus great-grandchildren; and 10 great-great-grandchildren -- with one on the way.

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