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Over apple juice and chocolate Oreos we reminisced. Sophie Shinewald, 105, has lived alone in her cozy apartment on Matheson Avenue for 20 years, but now she’s planning a move.

Her failing eyesight and hearing loss have become troublesome and assisted living seems to make more sense.
I reminded her of the 50s flood and her problems with her former home, at 40 Lansdowne, east of Main. She reminded me of the 1919 General Strike, when the streetcars stopped running for 48 days. She was forced to trek back and forth by foot from her home at 293 Selkirk Avenue to St. John’s High School on Church and Salter..

The feisty senior, whose mind and sense of humour are still intact, says the street car tracks ended at Inkster Blvd. and Main Street. There were many dairy farms operating north of the city. She spent her summers at her aunt and uncle’s place near Stonewall, milking cows and making sandwiches for the hired help.
Shinewald remembers the Spanish Flu pandemic which gripped the world from 1918-1920. Her mother volunteered to help the sick, but amazingly didn’t get ill herself. It was a terrible time when millions died.
When cousin Molly Rosenblat was born at the General Hospital on William and Isabel, she recalls that her mother Rytze Aaron collected her sister Esther Glow from the General Hospital and they both walked home to Selkirk Avenue carrying the baby. There were lots of good times spent with family. Molly was still in her teen years, when she came from the farm for a weekend visit and stayed 13 years.
The mobile centenarian was born in Canada, attended King Edward, St. Johns, and Normal School, where the tuition was $50.00. When she graduated there were no teaching jobs, although she sent out many applications.
When she married her husband Hi in 1934, she worked for Alcone Fur Shop, where she finished coats, answered the phone and did the books - all for $7.00 a week. Ambitious, she went back to school to upgrade her degree. Hired by Seven Oaks School Division as a substitute teacher, she was asked to become permanent, but declined. Hi wasn’t well and she wanted to be able to care for him. He died shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary.

A bright spot in her life was her trip to New York with her son to see “Carmen”. She’s been a loyal opera fan ever since. As well, she enjoyed Continuing Education classes at the University of Winnipeg, attending until her late eighties.
Travel has always been high on her to-do list. With travelling companion Anne Mellon she visited Israel, Spain, Canada’s west coast and the Maritimes. One winter they visited Majorca, a favourite resort area in the Carribean.
Shinewald enjoyed walking, but now she takes Handi Transit to her favourite senior centre on Smithfield and Main. For many years she was a volunteer, answering the phone and greeting members. The Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre at Syd Glow Place is now celebrating its 30th year of service to the senior community.

One of the proudest moments of her life was being acknowledged by Queen, Elizabeth II for her many years of volunteering. Another highlight was her 105th birthday party held at the Prairie’s Edge restaurant in Kildonan Park. Relatives from far and wide attended.
Shinewald has a son, Eddy, daughter Jackie Shaw, plus six grandchildren and 13 great grand-children. Deceased are sister Bessy Tennenhouse, “who was the salt of the Earth” and a brother, Ishy Aaron.
“When you add it all up”, says Shinewald, “life wasn’t too bad”. She  slyly adds, “and I didn’t have too many inlaws to deal with”. Her advice for living long and good: “Mind your own business and do your own thing”.

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