Freda Smith, who has lived at Paul’s Run Retirement Community for three years, is happy to finally be able to relax, play cards, and participate in discussion groups. “I am very lazy now, I worked for 50 years,” she said. “I don’t want any responsibility, I’ve had enough.”
Raised in west Philadelphia during the great depression, Freda and her six siblings had to get evening jobs to put themselves through school. Her husband served in World War II, and she traveled for 10 months with him in Texas, Louisiana and Michigan. While in Michigan, she worked in a defense factory. After her husband came home from the war, he and her brother-in-law bought the candy store that Freda had lived next to her entire life, and turned it into a luncheonette called “Joe and Bernie’s.”
“It was very difficult,” Freda said. “The hours were long.” But Freda had a closely knit family to help her. “We always stuck together,” she said. Freda and her husband lived with her sister and brother-in-law, and they raised their children together. “When I worked at the business, she took care of the kids, when she worked I took care of the kids,” Freda said
When Freda and her family sold the luncheonette, Freda’s husband retired, but she did not. “I couldn’t sit at home,” she said, “I was so used to working.” So Freda went and got a job working at a daycare. “I was in my 60’s, but they hired me,” she said. “I enjoyed that so much, I had so much fun.” Freda worked at the daycare for 12 years.
“I always said I will not leave Philadelphia,” Freda said. Yet despite her commitment to her city, she enjoyed traveling with her husband in the military and meeting new people. “I met so many wonderful people, we’ve kept in touch for 60 years,” she said. She also enjoyed experiencing new places. “I am from the north, and when I was in the south, it was very different,” she said. When she and her husband were in Texas, they lived on a farm. “I wasn’t a farm girl, I was a city girl. It was strange,” she said. “It was a lot of fun though, living on the farm.”
Freda has always been a very social person, and is the same way at Paul’s Run. “I get along with everyone here, I have no problems,” she said. When she goes out shopping, she asks other residents if they need anything, and she shared a book that her niece wrote with many residents. “I live each day as God gives it to me,” she said, “And I pray it’s a good day.”