She may be 101 years old, but Margaret Reiser is still trying to help others. Her room at Lakeside Health & Rehab in Pine City has become the center of operations for her one-woman mask factory – about 75 masks so far.
“I’m sewing masks for anybody that comes around,” Margaret said. “I work on it every day. Mostly they go to the nursing home right here.”
She said she heard on television one day that health care workers were looking for masks to help during the coronavirus shortage.
“So I thought, ‘Gee whiz, I’ll check that out.’ The problem was getting the material and the elastic, but we finally got it all going. It’s working out pretty good. My daughter in law donated some of it. Other people are donating some. Pretty soon I’ll be running out again, so if anybody has got any material to donate, or elastic, just send it to me.
“I kind of like doing it,” she said. “And it makes my day shorter.”
She said the social distancing rules don’t really bother her – the important thing is to keep busy.
“As long as I’ve got my sewing, I’m fine,” Margaret said.
“But if I didn’t have my sewing I don’t know what I’d do. I’d be crawling the walls.”
Margaret and her family had a farm on a property east of Beroun.
“We got that about 1954,” she said. “And then after we retired we moved into town, into Beroun. Then I got married the second time and my son built us a house.”
Life has been harder and times have been worse than they are right now. Reiser remembers the Great Depression and World War II, when the government imposed rationing in order to make sure that the limited supplies were spread around to the whole population. People were given ration books with tickets, and you needed those tickets to be able to get staples like sugar and flour.
“And if you didn’t get a ticket, you didn’t get nothing,” she said.
However, she kept her focus on what she could do rather than on all the world events she could not control.
“When I was on the farm, I didn’t have time to sit and watch that stuff,” Margaret said. “I didn’t pay too much attention to it.”
And being 101 in the nursing home, well, that’s not so bad either.
“I’ve got to use a walker, but I tell you – I sleep all night, dress myself, undress myself, make my bed, so I’m doing pretty good. I’ve got a nice room. It’s just like my house. I’ve got everything here I need.”
She hasn’t slowed down much, moving from one project to another.
“I still I do a little knitting,” she said. “When I’m tired of sewing masks, I knit caps for little kids. And then around Christmastime I donate all the caps.”
With a century in the rear view mirror, Margaret is staying positive about the future. And she had words of encouragement for those feeling anxious about the times we’re living in.
“I wonder what’s going to happen too,” she said. “Hang in there.”