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 North by Miss Moss

Sadie North by Miss Moss

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 North by Miss Moss Sadie North by Miss Moss Sadie North by Miss Moss

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.”

Sadie North by Miss Moss

Sadie babysitting:

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 North by Miss Moss

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 North by Miss Moss

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 North by Miss Moss

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 North by Miss Moss

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.

Sadie North by Miss Moss

all images courtesy of the life magazine archives


  1. I laughed when I read “Sadie moving her own flipping lawn”. The babysitting photo is awesome – she made sure she lived a full life, well done that woman!

  2. We are so acclimated to photos of young and beautiful, versus older and beautiful. And strong. And vibrant. Seeing real images of real people in real lives is the antithesis of fear of aging. All that aside, I love the power of Sadie North in these photos of her being strong and active.

  3. These pictures are just peachy – I think Sadie just gave me a kick up the butt to get out of my pj’s and do something useful with my afternoon.

  4. My mother is one of these. She still travels the world fly fishing, horseback riding, and painting, well into her seventies (and doesn’t look her age at all). And she always tells me that life keeps getting more marvellous. Something to look forward to.

  5. This literally just made me tear up—such a lovely (and inspiring) way to start my morning. I particularly love the images of her teaching the young ladies swimming and first aid. Life does such an amazing job (obviously!)! Thanks so much for sharing images that I love to see but don’t take the time to sift through—I always look forward to seeing what you’ll share. Cheers!

  6. That good-looking baby is me, 61 years later!!!

    This was in Brevard,NC, 1952. She lived on Probart St.

    I have an original copy of the Life Magazine, given to me by my mother, a few years ago.

    Thanks for the reminder!!

    This was forwarded to my by my sister in Hendersonville, NC.

    God bless!!

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