A recent participant in our audience suggested we contact his Mother who has been a Dietitian since 1945. Luckily, we were able to track dear Alice down to learn her life story and the secrets to aging well. Here is our one- on- one interview with Alice.
Alice grew up in Englewood, New Jersey just across the George Washington Bridge and now lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She became a Dietitian in 1945 and just celebrated her 93rd birthday.
Why did you decide to become a dietitian?
Growing up, I had an Aunt who worked as a Dietitian for the Bell Telephone Company cafeteria in Chicago. I remember thinking she was so smart and professional in her role then and the Dietitian career really intrigued me. I also grew up with a love for cooking in a family of wonderful cooks. I grew up during the depression, and in order to get access to fresh food we grew our own garden. We canned everything we could to make the most of all of our fresh produce and learned how to prepare fresh, healthy, and really tasty meals using the ingredients we had on hand. Most of our dishes included lots of fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs.
What do you love most about food?
I love that food is so tasty. I definitely look forward to eating as most people should. Food also keeps you healthy and I believe healthy food is the reason I have lived so long. I also believe cooking your meals is essential for living healthy and aging well.
What is your favorite dish to cook and eat?
Yes, even at 93 I still love to cook! I especially love to cook and eat all different kinds of chicken dishes. My favorites are hot chicken salad and roasted chicken.
I understand you have traveled all over the world and have visited six different continents. What do you love most about traveling?
I like to see different parts of the world and meet new people. I also really love to eat during traveling and explore the local cuisines and cultures.
I lived in Germany for 5 years and 19 years in Panama where I was able to travel all over Europe.
“I believe I have taken every mode of transportation over the course of my life from trains, planes, automobiles, and boats to a camel and an elephant.”
My husband was third of command at the Army School in Europe and we were based in Carlsberg, Germany. During my time there I was a teacher for United States soldiers and helped them to receive their GED. In Panama I worked as a home economics teacher and guidance counselor. I have majors in both dietetics and counseling.
Is there something you have wished you done in your life that you have not yet?
My bucket list is quite small now since I can’t really travel outside of the United States very easily anymore. At 93, I now focus on traveling more domestically. I just got back from Orlando to see my Grandson and his family and spent a week at Myrtle Beach. I fly to Chicago this week to attend a 55th college reunion with a friend. I also love taking day trips and traveling more local.
I feel that I have done pretty much all that I have wanted to do.
Where do you think the world of food is going?
Here in Greenville, SC it seems to be heading in a healthier direction. Even the under privileged groups now have access to community gardens and fresh produce. Unfortunately, it seems much cheaper to buy unhealthy food. What we should be focusing on is helping the under privileged population and those that don’t have the greatest resources get healthier food.
What is your favorite superfood?
I would say Butternut squash. There are so many things you can do with it and it is so delicious and comforting.
At On Target Living we have a big emphasis on helping people to find their “why” or driver for life. What is your why?
I want to live long enough to see my second Grandson marry. He is 25 years old. I also love being around to see my family grow. I have 2 kids, 2 grandsons, and 3 great grandsons.
What is your secret for living a life full of balance, energy and vitality?
Number one is eating healthy. Number two is to seek whatever it is that keeps you healthy. I think it is important as you age to have a healthy attitude and to surround yourself with friends. Most of my high school friends have passed away so I try to find friends who are younger. Having a social network is very important. I also believe it is important to stay active—not just by reading a book and keeping your mind sharp, but by being physically active and getting out of the house on a daily basis.
Any advice for people looking to live long, healthy, and happy lives?
Yes! It is important to take each day as it comes and look forward to happy things and to not dwell on things that are sad or depressing or the special moments that have passed. Always find hope in each day because there are so many more special moments ahead!
Fun Facts About Alice
- Her great aunt was a flower girl in Queen Victoria’s coronation.
- Her grandfather was a hat maker (haberdasher) in London. The family arrived in the United States just in time for the Great Blizzard of 1888.
- She once saw the Lindbergh baby.
- She attended Dwight Morrow High School in New Jersey, named after the baby’s maternal grandfather.
- She went to school with the daughter of one of the inventors of the TV. The girl told her class of the fantastic new box that could fit in your living room.
- She had a full recovery from polio. She had to learn to walk all over again.
- She worked in a settlement house in Boston, providing social services.
- She used one of the first microwave ovens to prepare meals at a major hospital in NYC which was a major breakthrough in efficiency for institutional cooking.
- She captained a 65- foot twin-masted schooner during a severe tropical thunderstorm and brought it safely back to port after many hours fighting the waves.
- She has lobbied at the South Carolina state assembly on behalf of the mentally handicapped.
Check out Alice’s autobiography titled, Cruising Through Life: A Memoir
I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to meet with Alice and learn more about her life. She is truly a special woman and her outlook on life is so remarkable. I left our conversation feeling so inspired and motivated to live a healthy life with purpose and meaning, while surrounding myself with the people that mean the most. I also realize that we are all in control of our own destiny and it’s up to us what we make of it.
I also sent Alice our Target To Table cookbook and am excited to hear which chicken dish is her new favorite to cook and eat. Please share your comments about Alice and if there was anything in this interview that inspired you to live a healthier and happier life. We want to hear from you!
-Kristen Johnson, Registered Dietitian & Speaker for On Target Living