- Associated Press - Saturday, March 11, 2017

PERU, Ill. (AP) - For the 100th day of school, students in Chris Goodman’s kindergarten class at Northview School in Peru had 100 activities to choose from. In the afternoon they would learn what 100 seconds feels like while seeing how many times they could write their name or how many jumping jacks they could do in that amount of time. But that morning they got a special treat, when classmate Maddilyn Sopczynski’s great-great-grandmother came to visit.

Louise Justi of Spring Valley will be 100 years old this June.

She still lives independently and cooks for herself most days.

“She baked cream puffs this morning,” said Maddilyn’s mother, Amanda Sopczynski of Peru. Amanda is the daughter of Carie Delhotal of Seatonville, who is the daughter of Richard Justi of Spring Valley. Richard is Louise’s son.

Louise is a cancer survivor and a first generation American. Her parents came to the U.S. from Yugoslavia before she was born. They brought two children with them but left their two oldest sons behind because they couldn’t afford their passage. Louise was born in La Salle, and grew up with two brothers and two sisters. She never met her oldest siblings.

“My sisters and brothers went to see them,” she said. “I never went, but they sent me a lot of pictures. I wasn’t one to travel.”

Her siblings have since passed, but she has nieces and nephews living. Her own two sons and their families are planning to celebrate her 100th birthday with a big family dinner.

What did she think of the kindergarten?

The classroom was “pretty,” she said. “We didn’t have that much stuff in our school.”

They didn’t have kindergarten, either. Children started school in first grade, she said.

Louise attended Matthiessen School in La Salle when it was new, from age 6 until 7th grade. The original building only had four rooms.

The Peru kindergarteners asked about what life was like when Louise was their age.

There was no electricity, she told them.

“It was bad,” she said. “It was bad.”

No TV. No microwaves.

She used a coal stove, and heated her home with a coal furnace when she got married.

“They can’t fathom not having technology,” Goodman said. “We talked about Christopher Columbus, and they couldn’t believe he could find America without a GPS. So for her to say they didn’t have lights…”

Louise, for her part, couldn’t get over the child-sized chairs the students sat in to do their 100th day activities.

What were her plans for the rest of the day?

“I’m going home and sleeping,” she said.

“Then I’ll wake up and make something for supper.”


Source: (LaSalle) News-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2l2aUW6


Information from: News-Tribune, https://www.newstrib.com

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