I browse the life archives a bit everyday, and usually find something magical. here is 77 year old Sadie North doing a variety of robust activities in a 1952 edition of Life. women like this symbolise everything that’s good about the world.
Just to look at Miss Sadie North, sitting in a rocking chair calm as Whistler’s Mother, one would say that here surely was a quiet, prim, conservative old lady. Miss Sadie is 77 years old, an age at which many consider themselves ready for the next world, and not much use in this one. But not Miss Sadie!
Sadie riding her bicycle:
At 60 Miss Sadie learned how to ride a bike. When she broke her hip the doctors said she would never do any more biking. But here she is riding over a mountain road, dressed in her nurse’s uniform and one her way to teach a first-aid class. In the past 17 years she estimates she has biked 15,000 miles, most of them, like her own life, rough and hilly. She never gives her age a though. “If you get sour at yourself you can just curl up and diet most any time,” she says.
Sadie teaching swimming & first aid:
Just for fun and because she likes young people Miss Sadie teaches swimming and first aid. She was a real beaver at diving until she broke her hip in 1947. Now she has to jump in feet first, but her bathing-suit figure doesn’t show up badly at all compared with her teenage pupils, and at floating Miss Sadie is a real corker.
Sadie making tapestries!
In her home Miss Sadie has a loom on which she makes rugs and tapestries. She also knits and weaves baskets from honeysuckle vines. A friend says of her, “She can do more things than a football quarterback.”
babies take to Miss Sadie like bear cubs to honey. What income she has comes from baby sitting and acting as practical nurse. She gets up at 5am to do her housework before reporting to work.
Sadie playing violin (she also plays the organ):
Miss Sadie and a “pal,” Archibald B. Carter, 89, often stage a violin “whing-ding.” She also plays the organ. She has taken the organ apart, cleaned it and put it back together dozens of times.
Sadie working at her typewriter:
Ten years ago Miss Sadie taught herself the touch system on the typewriter. Now she types most of her letters, wearing a visor like a newspaper editor while she writes. She prides herself on keeping up with the times, explaining, “I’d hate terrifically to go back to the ‘good old days.’ Give me the modern challenge of today.”
Sadie singing in her church choir:
Once a Presbyterian, Miss Sadie joined the First Methodist Church in 1916 and has been in the choir ever since. She always ends her day by reading from her Bible. It is 82 years old and weighs 12 pounds.
Sadie mowing her own flipping lawn.
She cuts the grass, trims hedges, grows fruits and vegetables for canning and preserves. A few weeks ago she painted the outside of her seven-room frame house.
all images courtesy of the life magazine archives