Proud to be an ‘Old Bag’

Arlington 93-year-old not slowing down, remains active in community groups

ARLINGTON — Florence Pryor, 93, normally walks a mile a day during the summer.

But when near-record snowfall kept the Arlington resident near her home last winter, community members and neighbors were there to help.

“People took my garbage out for me last winter,” Pryor said. “Young people are really nice to me.”

Receiving help is something that Pryor isn’t used to — she’s the one that’s usually volunteering her time. The most senior member of the Old Bags of Arlington will celebrate her 94th birthday in 2010, and she said she’s not planning on slowing down.

The Arlington resident stays active, working with a number of local organizations and groups by day, watching game shows and cooking by night.

Not only was she one of the founding members of the Old Bags women’s group that collects money for local children and families, she has been a member of American Legion Post No. 76 in Arlington since 1947. She’s also been involved other veterans’ organizations and clubs over the years.

Most recently, Pryor sold 600 raffle tickets for the Old Bags’ first meat raffle, which took place in fall 2009.

The group as a whole only sold about 1,200 of the $1 tickets.

“I’ve always been like this since I was a child,” Pryor said. “It’s just how I am. Even when I’m home, I’m always busy.”

An Arlington lifer

Pryor came to Arlington with her family as a 6-year-old in 1922.

Her father was a logger, and he spent time working in Seattle and Darrington, following work, she said.

Pryor was the oldest girl in the family, and her siblings and her attended school in a “little red school house” in the Arlington area that no longer stands.

Other than spending seven years in Port Orchard, Pryor has lived in Arlington ever since her family relocated here more than 85 years ago.

Jobs she’s held include working at a cafe where Flowers By George is currently located on North Olympic Avenue and working at Melady Lanes bowling alley.

Both of her sons, now 70 and 63, served in the armed forces, and Pryor said she’s been involved with veterans affairs and other organizations since early in her life.

Not acting her age

When Judi Martin first joined the Old Bags about two and a half years ago, she was told that there was a 90-year-old member in the group.

“I couldn’t spot which one she was,” said Martin, looking across a bar table at Pryor during the early afternoon hours of Dec. 29.

“Nobody believes me when I tell them,” Pryor responded with a laugh.

Pryor doesn’t look a day older than 80, and has a strict diet that includes two cups of coffee per day, a glass of prune juice first thing in the morning and a low-salt diet.

“I used to eat everything — not anymore,” Pryor said, but admitted that she still liked an occasional hamburger.

Since Pryor lives in an apartment just north of downtown Arlington, she said she’s able to walk to the grocery store, the drug store and any other place she needs to go.

She’s never even owned a car or had a driver’s license “My husband tried to teach me but he wasn’t good at it,” she said.

“It saves me a lot of money,” Pryor said.

Walking has kept her in shape, she said, along with staying active with her various community groups.

“Everything I have to do, I can walk there,” she said.

Pryor credits her youthful look to “mudding up” her face — a nightly lotion routine she started as an 8-year-old.

When Pryor’s not talking with her friends at the American Legion, she likes to play cribbage and collect U.S.-inspired trinkets.

In her apartment, which she has lived in since 2003, American flag mugs hang just above her kitchen sink, and the apartment’s walls are filled with photographs of family members.

“I love my pictures — be lonesome without them,” Pryor said.

Martin said that Pryor is well-liked by area residents because she’s a pleasure to be around.

“Everybody in town knows her,” Martin said. “She just has a cheerful attitude.”

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