March 25, 2019
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‘We didn’t have a lot’: Machiasport woman recalls 106 years of life

MACHIAS, Maine — Cora Quimby turned 106 on March 4.

The Marshall Health Care Facility resident never had a car and didn’t have indoor plumbing until after her son Daniel, now 72, was married.

While visiting from Boston one weekend, Daniel installed a modern bathroom.

“[Cora] was very thankful, I think,” said Daniel’s wife, Jean Quimby, 68.
Cora may not be the oldest person in the state, but she most certainly is among them.

The state does not keep track of who the oldest Mainer is, but it is believed that Doris “Geta” Farrar, who is 108 and lives in the Hawthorne House nursing facility in Freeport, holds that title.

Cora, who is hard of hearing, recounted some of her memories Tuesday with the aid of questions written on a white board.

She grew up in Bucks Harbor, which is a part of Machiasport, and recalls doing a lot of walking.

“We walked to school, church and wherever we wanted to go,” she said.

Although Cora remembers long walks to get to school and church, Jean said her mother-in-law lived only about a quarter-mile from church and an eighth of a mile from school.

As a child, Cora lived on a small farm with a horse, cows and chickens.

“We didn’t have a lot, I tell you,” said Cora, who now has 12 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and 21 great-great-grandchildren. “What clothes I had were probably clothes my mother made for me,” she said.

Naturally, young Cora had to do farm chores.

“She used to feed the chickens and collect the eggs,” said Jean.

“I had to help with the laundry, dishes, everything,” said Cora.

Cora was one of 12 children, some of whom died in infancy.

Medicine was quite different back then, Jean said. All of Cora’s siblings were born at home, as were the five children she had with her husband, Norman. Two of Cora and Norman’s children died as infants. A daughter, Betty, died in 2013 and a son, Faunce, died in 2004. Daniel is the only one left.

When Betty was born, she weighed only 2 pounds and slept in a shoebox, Jean said. The family used men’s handkerchiefs as diapers.

The family never had a TV until Daniel bought one — black-and-white, of course — in 1959 when he was 13. His mother didn’t really watch it, although his father did, he said.

When Daniel was growing up, his house was a popular place for neighborhood children. It remained so long after he grew up, his wife said.

“Little kids in the neighborhood went to Nanny Cora’s house. … She always had graham crackers,” Jean said.

Often, Cora would play games with the children. She never got cross with them, even when they were rowdy.

“She was always good with children,” said Jean.

Cora had no comment about her longevity, but Jean has a couple of theories.

“I think genetics has a lot to do with it, because she had an uncle who lived to be 107,” Jean said.

Cora never smoked or drank and is a good Christian woman, her daughter-in-law said.

“I think her faith in the Lord has contributed to her living as long as she has,” Jean said.

Cora’s diet also may have helped.

“She ate well. She was conscious about eating her vegetables and fruits,” Jean said. “She really loved her sweets, though.”

Cora was a good cook, making “awesome” biscuits and blueberry ginger cake, Jean said.

“If I had to pick a mother-in-law, I couldn’t have picked a better one. She’s a wonderful person,” Jean said. “She’s been very special to me because I lost my mother 23 years ago. She’s been just like a mother to me. … She is one awesome lady.”

 



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