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Five score and five!

Wright Bros., to shuttles, Lucy Nuckle has seen a lot

October 04, 2009
In 1904, the Russians still had a czar (and were at war with Japan), New York's first subway line opened, President Teddy Roosevelt was re-elected, the U.S. started building the Panama Canal, and massive fires destroyed large swaths of Baltimore and Toronto. Among the famous folks born were actor Cary Grant, bandleader Glenn Miller, writer Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss), and artist Salvador Dali.

All of them have gone to the grave, but not Southbridgian Lucy Nuckle. Still feisty and surrounded by family and friends, she celebrated her 105th birthday last Thursday.

"When I was a young girl, the people were old — they acted old," she said, a gleam in her eye despite being slightly slowed by age and hard of hearing. "I remember going to the bowling alley. I was curious about everything, and there were boys there. When I got home, I told my mother, 'I threw a ball at the bowling alley.' She grabbed me and said, 'Get your coat on. You're going to confession!'"

That happened a lot when she was young, since the family was fervently Catholic, Nuckle recalled. Over and over again, she'd get sent to confession for everything from smoking to horseback riding to playing baseball.

But that never stopped her from loving sports. She still recalls watching Babe Ruth hit home runs for the Boston Red Sox (and received tickets for a game last weekend), rode a bicycle until she was 97, and still bowls when she can.

Beyond that, she imparted her love of the outdoors to her son, Perry Nuckle, who said he especially cherishes the memory of going hiking, skating and fishing with her. At the time, she was something rather unusual — a single, older mother trying to raise Perry and his sister, Dolores (now Kosciusko), while working at American Optical.

See Monday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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