Catherine Weedon Sappington cooks her meals and cleans her home — and she completes her household chores without using a cane.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Sappington said. “I love to work. That’s how I’ve been all my life.”
Sappington turns 100 today.
The centenarian, who lives in Frederick, walks with no assistance or crutches and recalls some of the smallest details from her childhood. She was born and raised in the Sunnyside community near Jefferson.
“My mother was a domestic worker, and at (age) 9, I would go help her, but I had to stand on a stool to help her wash dishes,” she said.
Asked for her secret to a long life, Sappington said, “I don’t think I have one, but we grew everything we ate.”
Flour and sugar were the only items the family bought from the store, and those were acquired through bartering. Her parents, Joseph and Daisey Weedon, would trade their eggs for sugar and flour, she said.
“Times were hard but not for us.”
Her parents cared for 10 children and “we had a good upbringing,” she said.
Everyone did chores. Sappington and her siblings had to carry water from a spring that was up a hill. They used a washboard to wash clothes and hung the clean laundry on a clothesline to dry.
Her parents were disciplinarians, Sappington said, but none of the children got spanked.
“We never got a whipping, because we listened,” she said. “When Mom and Dad told you to do something, you’d better do it.”
That’s a far cry from children now, Sappington said.
“Kids don’t listen to their parents today, but again, some parents don’t have time for kids. It always starts from home.
“It’s a sad situation that kids today don’t want to listen to older people. They could learn a thing or two and not make so many mistakes and get in so much trouble.”
Sappington’s mother had no medical training, but she was known for developing concoctions aimed at treating diseases such as measles, mumps or chickenpox.
When her brother Robert was bitten by a copperhead snake, “my mom killed a chicken, opened it up and put his hand inside the warm chicken and it was all over,” Sappington said. “How she knew it, I don’t know.”
When Robert had a bout of spasms, their mother put him a tub of water with mustard, and that broke the spell, Sappington said. “The doctor told her, ‘you don’t need a doctor.'”
Her mother would sit at the table and read the Bible to her children and say prayers, Sappington said.
“Many times, I sit and visualize how things used to be.”
She was married to Charles Sappington for 68 years. He died in 2007 at age 84.
Charles Sappington worked for 35 years as bartender and head waiter at the Fort Detrick Officers Club.
“Everybody loved Charlie,” Catherine Sappington said. “He did his job so well and he was kind to everybody.”
She completed Sunnyside School, which stopped at seventh grade. Her favorite subjects were spelling, reading and writing. “I didn’t like arithmetic,” she said.
Even with a back problem, Sappington said she can’t resist the urge to stoop over and pick something off the floor that shouldn’t be there.
“And I can’t stand to see a picture on the wall that’s not straight or a curtain that’s not right. I got to fix it,” she said. “I’m strictly a country girl. I don’t have a dishwasher because I didn’t want one. I love to work.”
Sappington said she worked until she was in her 80s, caring for elderly people.
She has seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren, she said.
“God’s been good to me and I’ve been blessed.”