PORTSMOUTH — Perhaps Mark Twain said it best when he said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” One Portsmouth resident exemplifies this quote as she didn’t mind celebrating an important milestone Saturday with friends.
Spending nearly all of her 100 years in the city, Kathryn Hanes still carries a youthful sense of energy, humor, and what friends could best describe as mischief.
Her love for life still burns, whether that be directing her friends in renditions of the happy birthday song to jokingly attempting to scamper away while speed-walking. Guests were also treated to an edition of the Yankee Doodle where Hanes used her cane as a guitar.
“I just really enjoy life, you can tell I can,” she said from her Taylor Court residence, hoping to visit Florida in the future.
Change is a guaranteed certainty, where Hanes said she has seen plenty over the course of a century. Many historical instances that school children are taught today are instances of her life, including the Great Depression and the Great Portsmouth Flood of 1937.
Hanes worked in local businesses such as the Selby Shoe Company and Williams Shoe Company, known for a serious work ethic and keeping her co-workers on task. Her former boss at Williams and now “boyfriend,” Frank Densmore, said having her on the job made his much easier.
“She was what I would call a strict worker,” the 94-year-old Densmore said. “If someone was playing around, she would be sure to straighten them out.”
Work at these companies was never easy, Hanes said the going rate for 40 hours of work was roughly $20. Fortunately, $20 went a lot further in its purchasing power back in those days.
“I remember taking the bus when it was only 5 cents,” she said, also recalling butter costing 12 cents and cheap nights at the picture shows and streetcar rides. “I would still have a lot of that $20 left.”
A central tenant in Hanes’ life is her faith, she was baptized when she was 9 years old and taught classes for several years. She attends mass at the Central Church of Christ in Portsmouth and has done so for at least 70 years, friends said.
Due to the coronavirus, Hanes has at the request of others who fear exposing her to the virus not attended mass for the past year. She still has a neighbor take her to church so she can pray during open hours.
This relationship with God has given her resiliency to deal with the challenges of her life, she said including the passing of her husband of 50 years in 1995 and health bouts.
“If you put nothing into your life, you’ll get nothing out of it,” she said. “The Lord helps those that help themselves.”
Hanes is also appreciative of her friends in life, several stopping by Saturday to deliver gifts, flowers and cake. Her friends quipped she had enough cake to last her for a few weeks.
“I have really led a wonderful life,” said Hanes.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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