ALTONA — More than 100 family and friends marked Hattie Boulrice’s 100th birthday with cards, flowers, well wishes and much attention.
“She enjoyed every minute of it,” said daughter-in-law Carol Boulrice.
The Town of Altona proclaimed that special day, Jan. 24, Hattie Boulrice Day in her honor.
Hattie was born in Altona and has lived there most of her life.
“My mother had 16 kids,” she said. “Twelve lived; some died when they were babies.”
As the fourth oldest, Hattie helped raise her younger brothers and sisters.
“We learned to take care of kids young. We all got along well; I loved them all.”
Hattie grew up on a farm; she learned to milk the cows at age 11.
She and her siblings got their education in a four-room schoolhouse in Altona.
“No matter where we lived, it was at least a mile, 2 miles to school,” she said. “My mother would put two coats on me.”
Hattie joked that on those cold days, she might have been the only person to show up for class.
Every spring, her family camped out on the Altona Flatrock for about a month, picking blueberries to sell for 1 cent per quart.
They would gather pine boughs and ferns and cover them with blankets for mattresses, a popular spot for snakes to slither into, Hattie said.
The Flatrock was full of makeshift camps for blueberry pickers back then, as there was a big market for the fruit.
Leaving school and home at 16, Hattie worked as a nanny in Dannemora, Champlain and Altona.
At 19, she married the love of her life, Oveldia Boulrice.
She vividly remembers the winter of 1933 and 1934, when the temperature sank to around 40 below zero for five weeks, she said.
“We had a cook stove, and we had to sit near the stove all night long,” Hattie said. “The mattress was frozen.”