A Hamilton centenarian’s secret to being 108 — laughter

Josie was born in Toronto in 1910, and moved to Mary Street in Hamilton with her family when she was about five.

She had no schooling and worked in different Hamilton cotton mills for 50 years, including the Mary Street Cotton Mill and the Glendale Spinning Mill, until she retired around 1970.

Josie had met the love of her life, Albert, around 1929. He had been with the Arma dei Carabinieri police agency in Italy and had come to Canada in the 1920s.

They married on June 7, 1931, but not without difficulties.

Marianna explains that in Josie’s family in those days, a man had to pay a dowry to marry one of the girls. Josie had been promised by her parents to another man, and so there were arguments in the family when she refused him and wanted to marry Albert, who had no dowry to give.

“On the night before my mother got married, her father gave her a beating because she was supposed to marry another man.”

But Josie and Albert carried on and had two daughters, Elizabeth and Marianna. Josie continued to work, climbing the ranks from cleanup girl when she was 10 to foreman, while Albert worked at Westinghouse.

When Albert died at age 98 almost 20 years ago, Josie didn’t qualify for a CPP widow’s pension because it didn’t exist until two years after Albert retired, says Marianna.

Throughout the stories and reminiscing at Josie’s nursing home on Sunday — the Albright Manor in Beamsville — Josie smiles and laughs regularly.

Marianna thinks that laughter and positive attitude has given her mother a long life.

“She never held grudges or got angry. We never argued,” she says. “She never said anything against anyone.

“It’s just that positive attitude she had, even when thing were going wrong … she’s never grumpy.”

Josie thinks she’s lived this long because of God’s will, but adds “I always had that crazy smile … that’s my way.”

***Correction: This story was updated Jan. 10 to correct the year of Josie Pascottini’s retirement and explain why she went to work at age 10.***

cfragomeni@thespec.com

905-526-3392 | @CarmatTheSpec

cfragomeni@thespec.com

905-526-3392 | @CarmatTheSpec