SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Anne Sheridan said the key to living 100 years is self-preservation.
The Monmouth Junction resident still mops her floors, does her laundry, cleans the house, makes her bed and does her own chores. However, she does not like to dust.
“I can’t just hang around and see a place go to pot. … I can’t lie around and watch dirt pile up.
“I’m a very independent person. I like to do for myself. I used to go with the seniors shopping.
“My husband would see me with a screwdriver and a hammer and a pair of pliers and he’d say, ‘What are you gonna build now?'” she reminisced.
She doesn’t cook anymore, though she loved making gravy for her sister and brother-in-law.
She said up until a few years ago, she would maintain her property.
“I used to love to shovel snow and love to cut grass,” she said.
She said she used a lawnmower until 2007, and up until a few years ago, still kept up her yard.
“I would do half, come in, have lunch, then go out and do the other half,” she said. “In the summer, I would wait until after 6 p.m. when it wasn’t so hot.”
She also said she maintained a healthy lifestyle.
“The main key is when you’re working, you go home, you do what you’d normally do, you have a good meal, you keep good hours. I go to bed at 8:30 – never 9 o’clock,” Sheridan said. “Go to bed early, get up early, go to work. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. Your mother, your father can only do so much for you. You gotta take care of yourself.”
Her friend Wayne Bagley does stop by frequently to help her with her mail and other small tasks.
“I thank God for him because he takes me where I want to go,” Sheridan said.
They met in 2007 after one of Sheridan’s neighbors fell while pruning trees.
“That side of the fence, we’d be gabbing like two old biddies,” Sheridan laughed.
Sheridan likes to gab – though only in English – and pig Latin, she said.
“I’m Irish. Nine out of 10 of them have a good sense of humor,” she smiled.
She said she takes after her father, who was a straight-shooter.
“If we had something to say, we’d tell it to you, not to the neighbor and it turns into a tale,” she said.
Sheridan was born on Sept. 8, 1917, in Concord, New Hampshire. She lived in Manhattan for most of her life with her parents, two sisters and two brothers.
“I love New York. I would go back there in a heartbeat if I could find a nice section with reasonable rates. You can’t find that anymore,” she said. “You could go out any time of day or night and be safe.
“It was nice,” she said of growing up in Washington Heights and then on Dyckman Street. “I never had to go downtown to shop. They had quality stores. Now they have junk, in my opinion.”
She said her enjoyed her childhood, growing up in the early to mid-1900s.
“It used to be a good time. My younger sister and I used to take our mom down to Radio City [Music Hall] to see some good stage shows and motion pictures,” she said.
Sheridan worked as the supervisor of housekeeping for the former Knickerbocker Hospital in Harlem, which was renamed the Arthur C. Logan Memorial Hospital. She then transferred to St. Luke’s.
Sheridan moved to South Brunswick on Oct. 30, 1994. Her husband Harvey Verner passed away in 1965.
“It’s nice, but it’s very inconvenient if you don’t have a vehicle,” she said of suburbia.
Though she never operated a vehicle, she laughed, “I drive – I drive people crazy.”
She lived with her three dogs: a golden retriever, a half-yellow Labrador mix and a rescued American Eskimo.
“I love animals. If I could take care of one now, I would go out and get another dog,” she said.
“I used to get up in the morning and sit in the chair and have a little bit of fun. … [One dog] would come over, he’d start with the paws, I’d pick him up and we would both dance.”
Sheridan does not go out much these days, except for a birthday party Middlesex County holds in May for residents age 90 and older. She said she is looking forward to this year’s event, because she is Trouble No. 1 and she’ll get to see her friend Cybil, Trouble No. 2.
However, she said she has never felt her age.
“[Being 100] is the same as it would feel for me to reach 20 years. I don’t feel my age, except that I have to use that walker.”
Contact Jennifer Amato at firstname.lastname@example.org.