Sarah has been the old lady down the block since I moved to Point Loma a decade and a half ago. She’s an active old lady, her '90s-vintage pearl-white Thunderbird an often enough sight in her driveway as she comes and goes to the grocery store, church, and (certainly) hair appointments. She’s 90-something and still gets out of her car to lift the garage door of the small home she shares with no one.
Last month I learned from a different neighbor that Sarah is moving out soon. Then a realtor’s sign appeared in her yard. This morning, December 31, I stopped to talk to her. About the move, Sarah said she’d been asked by our mutual neighbor, “Do you know what you’re doing?” Sarah laughed at the thought. The elegantly dressed Texan didn’t add any further comment to that; of course she knows what she’s doing.
She said she’s moving herself to Rancho Mirage, to an “assisted living” community where two of her brothers reside. She’s thought about it for over a year. She gets tired out doing the upkeep on her house and wants to be done with the responsibility and go live near her brothers. “We all get to a point where we need to make these decisions,” she said.
Then, after I asked how long she’s lived on Poe Street (43 years), she told me she went to work on the Ryan Aeronautical assembly line in 1943, at the the height of production for the war effort. “Oh yeah, Rosie the Riveter and all that,” she told me. Fuselages, cockpits, “I was all over the planes. Then I went into inspections.... It gets difficult being Rosie the Riveter.”
Sarah worked for Ryan until 1984, about seven years after the company had been sold, when employees became “just a number.” But that’s not why she left; she retired after a longtime coworker “just opened up her newspaper to read and died. She was ten years my junior, so that got me to thinking… I wanted to do some things, travel.”
The year she retired, Sarah took four trips — Hawaii, Australia, and a couple other far-flung places. With this next retirement, she said she’s looking forward to not cooking and practicing piano. She’s working on swapping her grand piano for an upright that she can put against a wall in her apartment.