At 90, still going strong

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pauline Foster may have turned 90 recently, but she’s still active, helping her daughter Wanda Smith deliver The Daily Leader newspaper five days a week. Foster likes to do things on her own when she can.

“I do it myself,” Foster said. “I cut grass, I rake leaves, and cook, and everything else. And I come with her [Wanda] and throw the paper.”

“She’ll put on a long sleeve shirt and a straw hat and get out there and cut grass,” said Wanda’s husband, James Smith.10-13-15-pauline-foster-edited

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Foster was born Aug. 31, 1925. As a child she lived on a farm with her parents near Corinth, where they grew cotton.

“Work hard, eat little, and keep going,” Foster said. “I had to tote water from a spring for a long ways. I washed on a scrub board. I boiled our clothes in these big old black pots. I’ve churned milk, pulled corn, and cooked with a wood stove. You put the wood in there. That’s good cornbread and biscuits. I picked up 50 pounds of cotton and toted it around.”

Foster started picking cotton when she was just 6 years old, and kept at it until her family moved to Louisiana, where her father built a sawmill. In those days, modern conveniences like running water were a luxury.

“We had a wood stove, wood heater, outside bathroom, and no running water,” said Foster. “We didn’t have a [interior] bathroom until I was 15.”

Wanda and Pauline have been working together to deliver the newspaper for 10 years. She’s well known among those on her route.

“Everybody calls her mama,” James said. “Sometimes she comes and visits me, and she’ll be calling before 10 o’clock, ‘Come on, we’re going to be late for the route! Come on, let’s go.’

She’s a stick of dynamite. She is something.”

“I couldn’t do it without her,” said Wanda.