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For Pine Island resident, ‘life begins at 90’

By Staff | May 8, 2013

During a recent Pine Island Writers meeting, Mabel Schneider proudly placed her palm on the cover of a thick, bound notebook.

With a faint smile, she announced to the group that her project of four years was finally complete.

Working on the project only when she felt inspired to do so, Schneider created the 80+ pages while typing on an electric typewriter rather than a computer.

She is quick to point out that she has no interest in learning how to use a computer.

She had no interest in allowing her only child, Marta Daltry, to help type the manuscript pages, either.

After all, this soft-spoken woman is fiercely independent and quite possibly a little bit stubborn, too. When a person is 98 and three months of age like Schneider, she can very frequently do exactly as she pleases.

Covering the years between 1915 and 1923, Schneider’s work highlights only a segment of her life, rather than her entire life story.

During her adult years, she was far too busy with all kinds of responsibilities to write about thoughts, so she picked out the sweetest memories of her beginning years.

“I wanted to write the book for my family,” Schneider said. “I want my grandchildren to know what a childhood I had. My story is a true story. There’s no fantasy about it.”

At maybe 15 years of age, Schneider gathered community information in the New Jersey area where she was raised, and sold the news to the local newspaper.

“That was 1930, right in The Depression,” she said. “It was a weekly paper called The Plain Dealer, and the publisher paid me one dollar and one quarter.”

She met her late husband during a blind date, Schneider said. Six months later, they tied the knot.

For much of her married life, Schneider set her own interests aside. Her husband was, by trade, a tool and die maker. But he also had numerous other talents. The late Marty Schneider also possessed a wonderful entrepreneurial spirit. He was the kind of guy who first moved his family to a 60-acre farm in the Poconos for seven years.

When they realized that seven years on a farm had prevented them from

taking days off or enjoying a family vacation, the farm was sold and

the new destination was San Diego, Calif. Constantly, she was

involved in some kind of business venture with her spouse, Schneider

said. But she was also a very devoted mother.

When her husband retired, she found time to create her own greeting cards. When she was widowed in 2001, Schneider began to think a lot more about her own interests.

By the way, this is not Schneider’s first crack at writing a book. Four years ago, at age 94, she penned “Wallpaper Wizardry,” a book that details 20 different kinds of projects using wallpaper.

Genealogy is another interest. But book ideas still pop around in her mind. “I’m thinking about a new one. I want to call it. ‘All my houses,'” Schneider said. “I’ve lived in everything from a trailer to a really old house built in 1763.”

Inheriting so much creative energy from both parents might have had something to do with Daltry’s decision to return to college at age 55.

“We don’t fit stereotypes,” Daltry said as she smiled across the room at her mom. “She blows all of that away. And because I saw my parents do a lot of different things and think outside the box, I went back to school. You’re never too old to try something new. That’s the legacy my mom has given me.”

“Life doesn’t begin at 40,” Schneider said with a laugh. “It begins at 90.”