100 years of wisdom: Littleton's Loretta Corey reflects at the century markSpecial to the Sunday News November 24. 2017 5:52PM
LITTLETON -- Loretta Corey is a big fan of the New England Patriots. So big, in fact, that on a Sunday afternoon, she is apt to set aside her New Hampshire Sunday News in order to pay full attention to the game.
But a recent game wasn't going so well for the Pats. They were down to, of all teams, the New York Jets. But Mrs. Corey knows a thing or two about twists and turns on life's road.
With this particular Pats game, she told family, "We are in the third quarter, but it's not the last quarter. We'll see."
Mrs. Corey was correct. The Pats rallied that Sunday afternoon, winning 24-17. It's always wise to listen to one's elders.
In Loretta Corey's case, that would mean listening to someone born 100 years ago this month. In Missouri, as one of 12 children, on a farm.
Woodrow Wilson was President. Coca-Cola had just debuted its latest, longest lasting recipe. The hamburger bun was introduced. And the American Professional Footall Assn. would be formed when she was 3 years old. (The Pats came a bit later, in 1959.)
Mrs. Corey didn't want anything special for her 100th birthday; and she has no great secret as to her longevity.
"It's good genes," she said, "something I inherited from my mother's family (the Falters from Freeburg, Mo.)."
Loretta Anna Struemph was born Nov. 15, 1917 in Vienna, Mo. It was a small town with big farms and large families to tend them. As soon as she was old enough, she was given her first chore - gathering eggs.
"We had over 300 acres of farmland, where we raised wheat, corn, oats and hay," she said. "We raised sheep, pigs for market and cattle. We made and sold butter, and we always had plenty of eggs to sell."
Tending the chickens and collecting those eggs were her first chores, as soon as she was old enough.
Looking back from the era of mechanization and modern convenience, Mrs. Corey remembers hard work, but she remembers the fun, too.
"You don't forget," she said. "I remember my childhood like it was yesterday. We worked hard and we played hard."
Life changed for her in 1936, the year her father died. Several of her older siblings had left the farm a few years earlier and they came back to Vienna, her brother Billy driving the car.
When it was time for them to leave, they invited her to go with them to New York City. She had to make a choice right then and there.
"It was all Greek to me," she said of New York. "At home, we had no electricity, no plumbing - no one had that. We had wells and cisterns and going to a place with all that ... I had to learn quick."
She found a job as nanny and housekeeper to Frank and Goldie Goodrich. He was a violinist in the NBC orchestra.
When summer came around, the Goodrich household would head to New Hampshire and stay for the season in a little house not far from the center of Littleton.
The family bought vegetables from a Lebanese man, Salim Toney, who delivered by horse and wagon, accompanied by a young relative, Alice Corey, who would handle the translation.
Alice and Loretta formed a friendship, which led Alice to introduce Loretta to her cousin, Alexander Corey. He was a lawyer. He would become her husband.
It was not an easy era to start out on a new life in a small New Hampshire town.
"It was during World War II and everything was rationed," she said.
The young lawyer and the farm girl from Missouri married Aug. 21, 1944 in Littleton, at St. Rose of Lima Church, on a day that was happy and cheerful and full of promise.
They settled down in Littleton. He had his law practice and ran the family's Corey's Sweet Shop until his death in 1972. She raised their four children; Catherine Bedor and Dorothy Corey, of Littleton; Barbara Brewster, of Middetown, Md., and Michael Corey, of Chester.
Mrs. Corey remains independent but is close to her children and grandchildren. She is a voracious reader of all the local papers as well as her hometown paper, the Maries County (Missouri) Gazette. She eagerly awaits the New Yorker magazine, where she keeps up with the theater and other aspects of life in the city, where she lived for eight years; and she is a sports fan. Depending on the season, she cheers on the Patriots and the Red Sox -after many years as a Yankees' fan.