Source: Sherman Publications

Hundredth Halloween leaves "Kat" surprised not spooked

October 30, 2013

While costume wearers flock the streets on Halloween, Kathleen Elliott is busy turning 100.

“I never thought of old age, I really never did because I was always on the go. Now I’m surprised I’m 100 years old. I’m really surprised because I was a preemie,” she said. “One hundred years ago my mother didn’t have a doctor for her pregnancy or nothing, and I survived.”

Elliott's mother had moved to Detroit from Austria and couldn’t speak a word of English. Detroit was so crowded 100 years ago that her parents and her lived in one room, and her grandparents in the next room.

“We didn’t have any water, my mother had to carry water from the well. We didn’t have electricity or paved streets,” she said. “They had nothing. She must have had a hard time.”

The most frightening decade while growing up was during WWII.

“We were so poor, everybody, all of my friends didn’t have good jobs, and it was really hard to get along, and that frightful war was on. I think that was the worst.”

But Kathleen is anything but melancholy.

She was married in 1936, 77 years ago, and had three beautiful children. Her family life is very small now with a couple of grandchildren. She has one son who retired after working for the Detroit News, and one daughter who is a nurse in Detroit, following in the same footsteps as her mother.

She recommends loving the job you have.

“I was a nurse in an emergency room for years, I was busy and I was happy with the job I had. I was happy with my husband. I was just happy about everything, and I was very perky. I was always on the go looking to do something, and I think that kind of keeps you going.”

She never smoked, never drank, and is sad to see so many high schoolers smoking cigarettes. She was never heavy set, always maintained her weight, and thinks that is a big factor in her longevity.

Elliott was quite the hobbyist. She has knitted, crotched and quilted, and used to crotchet for the senior center and make all the baby things.

“I always had to have something in my hands and my husband once told me, he said ‘Kat, please sit down, I’m so tired of watching you work,’ and I didn’t think it was work. It was doing what I liked to do,” she said.

The worst part about her retirement is that she can no longer drive. She drove until she was 98, but had to stop in the last year due to her failing eyesight.

But that doesn’t matter, because her friend Helen Barnes often picks her up, especially for church.

The United Methodist Church in Lake Orion is her favorite place to be and she has been attending with her Lake Orion friends for years and years.

She has always, always had a strong group of friends, and says it has helped her reach 100.

They threw her a special birthday party at the Church on Sunday, October 28 and drove her out to the Cracker Barrel on Wednesday in Flint for a birthday meal. Her relatives are throwing her a birthday party on Saturday. “Isn’t that nice?” she said.

Last year she had six different birthday parties. Halloween is one of her busiest weeks of the year.

“I am so happy that I ended up here in lake Orion because there couldn’t be a nicer place really. I always have a big time on Halloween.”

“I used to dress up as a kitty cat, somebody would always fix my face up and I had big ears, but I don’t think I’ll do it this year. I don’t know, I don’t feel in the mood. I guess, I figure I’m 100 years old I should act my age,” she said.