Celebrating a life

HANCOCK – The life expectancy for US residents is somewhere in the mid-70s, a number most people would be thrilled to reach. But for Copper Country resident Maude Augustine, she’s far surpassed that number having turned 105-years-old on March 30.

Maude was active and on her own until she reached the age of 103. She now spends her days at the Houghton County Medical Care Facility in the memory care unit, Woodland Haven. Maude suffers from dementia, but it usually only affects her when her blood sugar is low. She has good days and bad days. On good days she can recall plenty of details and memories in her life, on bad days she may struggle to conjure those memories.

At the Medical Care Facility, Maude sits in a wheelchair surrounded by her only son, Mike, and daughter-in-law, Lynn. Birds chirp in a nearby cage as Lynn tells her mother-in-law’s story.

“(Maude) and (late husband) John couldn’t get married because of the Great Depression,” Lynn says, looking over at Maude. “They put off getting married for 10 years. When they finally get married, she was told she’d never have children.”

When Maude was 38 she went in for surgery thinking she would have a hysterectomy.

“They opened her up and found out she’s pregnant,” Lynn said. “So she had Mike. That’s her only child.”

Maude then pipes in, “I don’t remember any of this.”

Maude was a 1928 graduate of Calumet High School and went on to study at the Gertrude Hale Beauty School in Chicago. After that, Maude worked as a beautician in Chicago during the days of prohibition. When asked about prohibition and people making their own moonshine, the memory seems to pop in her head.

“Oh God, yes,” Maude says.

When visiting a museum in Lake Linden there was a contraption with wires hanging and big metal clips and Maude said at the time, “Oh, I used to give permanents with that. I did eight a day.”

According to Lynn, Maude used to do the hair of Mrs. Wrigley, known for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum.

While living in Chicago, Maude would also compete in dance marathons and followed the big bands of the day. Her favorite was Benny Goodman. Maude tears up a bit from the memory. But even still, not everything comes back to her.

“There are so many things I don’t remember,” Maude said. “But I know I had a lot of fun.”

Maude lived around the corner from the Biograph Theater and had attended it the night before Dillinger was shot.

“Oh my God, that’s so long ago,” Maude said, when asked of the incident.

Maude was also around when the St. Valentine’s Day massacre occurred and friends took her to see the bloody garage.

Maude met her husband John in Calumet. As previously stated, they dated for nine years during the Great Depression. Maude and John were married on May 29, 1939 in a double wedding ceremony with her sister Vicky and her husband Willard. All four were around to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1989. Unfortunately, John passed in 2003 after he and Maude had celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.

In August of 2003 Maude moved to the Douglass House in Houghton. She lived there for eight years until she moved to the Houghton County Medical Care Facility. During her time there she has made a lot of friends, her favorite being a one-year-old girl named Dacee Lee Wiitanen, daughter of Diane Harry and Derek Wiitanen.

Her son, Mike, said she is very well taken care of the Medical Care Facility.

“These people here, they’re great,”?Mike said.