Story and Photos by Lisa Carolin
Elsie Hochrein doesn’t waste time worrying about things.
“I asked if worrying ever helped, and it didn’t,” she said. “I enjoy life. I just live from one day to the other.”
One hundred and six years of life that is. She celebrated her 106th birthday on March 12, and again on March 17 at the Chelsea Senior Center March birthday party and St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Nearly 100 people attended and were serenaded by members of Beach Middle School‘s eighth-grade Fiddle Club. Hochrein was accompanied by her son, Lee Satterthwaite, whom she lives with near Gregory. She has two sons, three grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
“Both Elsie and Lee come regularly to the Senior Center for lunch,” said Trinh Pifer, executive director of the Chelsea Senior Center. “It’s so much fun to listen to her stories. She’s told me about what life was like when she was a little girl and the farm families in the area and all their connections.”
“My mom has always taken good care of herself, didn’t drink or smoke, and always ate well,” said Satterthwaite.
Hochrein, whose maiden name was Pfitzemmaier, was born on March 12, 1910, ten miles southeast of Chelsea with the help of her grandmother, who was a midwife. Hochrein grew up on a farm on Waters Road and Fletcher Road in Freedom Township.
“I liked to drive the horses, and those horses knew me,” said Hochrein, who remembers what Chelsea was like in those days. “I think it’s grown well.”
She attended Rogers Corners School with twins Howard and Dudley Holmes, who went on to run Jiffy Mix, and she graduated from Chelsea High School in 1929 in a class of 41 students.
She still remembers her confirmation in 1925 at Bethel Church near Manchester, which she can recite in German. Hochrein has a sharp memory and says that she’s done a lot of praying and reading during her life.
In 1932, Hochrein married Roy Satterthwaite, and they had two sons-Duane and Lee.
“Duane was the second last baby born in the white house where the post office was (in Chelsea),” she said. As far as her first husband goes, she says, “Roy was a hard worker and loved his gardens.”
She remembers World War I, and her cousin coming back from the War and refusing to talk about it, and she remembers World War II.
“We knew more about it because communication, like radio and newspapers, was better by then,” said Hochrein.
When asked what one of the biggest changes she has witnessed in her lifetime, she says, “Automobiles. They go a lot faster. It used to be you were flying at 30 miles per hour. You knew who was coming up the road by the sound of the motor.”
Hochrein has held a number of jobs including working at the Chelsea Bakery, in a laundry, at several factories, and as a Sunday school teacher.
She’s enjoyed traveling, especially to Europe, and her favorite destination was Barton City, Michigan where she spent many summers with her family.
After her husband Roy died, she remarried Robert Hochrein in the mid-1980s.
Elsie Hochrein kept a diary from 1935-2000, which Lee says, “has solved a lot of arguments!”
After Robert died, she lived on her own in Chelsea until the age of 96. Now she says, “Lee and I take care of each other.”
Hochrein can no longer do some of her hobbies like needlework and crocheting because her eyesight isn’t as good, but she does enjoy playing cards, watching game shows including “Jeopardy”, visiting the Chelsea Senior Center, and taking naps.
“I’ve had a long, wonderful life and very little sickness,” said Hochrein. “I thank God for being with me.”