CROWN POINT | Edith Sautter says her secret to a long life is hard work.
That, coupled with "a very good husband and a happy family," helped Crown Point High School's oldest graduate celebrate her 107th birthday on March 4.
Her son, Jim Sautter, said his mother always has had a great work ethic, keeping a spotless home and cooking big meals.
“She was a great cook,” Jim Sautter said.
Sautter has been living at St. Anthony Home in Crown Point since she fell three weeks ago at her Lowell home. She previously had been doing her own cleaning, cooking and laundry with assistance a few days each week from a home health care agency.
Healthy eating has not been a factor in Sautter’s longevity. She has a bowl of sugar-coated cereal for breakfast each morning and especially loves fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.
Her son said his mother has a positive attitude and strong faith, regularly attending Lowell’s Christ Church United in the past.
“The church has been wonderful to her,” Jim Sautter said.
Sautter was married to her late husband, Emery, for 76 years. The couple met while living on the same block.
When Sautter was 17, they secretly took a train to Wisconsin, where they were married.
Returning to their separate homes, their secret was discovered when Edith Sautter’s sister found the marriage license under her bed.
Sautter grew up on a Crown Point farm on Ridge Street, which had cows, chickens, pigs and a Shetland pony. Sautter’s day consisted of chores, school and more chores, she said.
There was no indoor plumbing, electricity, telephones or television in her family home. There was an outhouse in the back, oil lamps and a radio.
She walked to school most days. During inclement weather, her father took her to school in a horse-drawn buggy. At 18, Sautter learned to drive a Model T Ford.
As a teenager, Sautter worked at George Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor and later as a cashier at the National Tea Co., she said.
With a 1924 graduating class of 32, South Ward High School, now the site of condominiums, had no gymnasium. Sporting events were held at the community center. Sautter, who played basketball, remembers watching silent movies accompanied by piano music at the Palace Theater (now Crown Theater).
Sautter said she doesn’t watch much TV, but she likes “Judge Judy.” Throughout her life, Sautter enjoyed playing cards, especially in a women’s pinochle club.
A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, her family was related to Obadiah Taylor, Jim Sautter said.
Sautter remembers when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The first president she recalls was Calvin Coolidge.
Sautter has two sons, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, she said.