On Aug. 13 a 99-year-old woman started a question-and-answer session on social news site Reddit with the help of her great-granddaughter. Questions poured in so fast that the two women, posting under the handle GG_Louise, couldn't keep up. As of Wednesday evening, the thread had attracted more than 1,600 comments as GG_Louise gave redditors a positively heartwarming, decidedly 21st-century account of the past century.
Born in 1914 in Chicago, GG_Louise helped her mother make bootleg whiskey --"hooch," as she calls it -- during Prohibition. "There weren't many risks for us," she said of the endeavor, "the Al Capone gang would handle the problems."
She also said she started working at the age of 12, when her father died, and didn't retire until age 96. Her first job? Working in the school cafeteria. "My siblings and I could eat a free lunch, sometimes it was our only food for the day," she wrote.
When asked her secret to aging so well she replied, "I never smoked, and I get out of bed and put my feet on the floor every morning!" Her great-grandaughter chimed: "She stays extremely active....She also likes to drink a Southern Comfort Manhattan when she can."
Reddit users were curious about all aspects of GG_Louise's life -- ranging from dancing (GG_Louise would Charleston in her community dance hall) to her diet during the Great Depression (bread and butter sandwiches with sugar as a treat).
Her favorite president was John F. Kennedy. Her favorite decades were the 1940s and 1950s "because the war was over, the country was prospering and women were finding jobs," she explained, adding, "I was also newly married and had 2 children [at that time]. :)"
But don't think she wants to turn back the clock. GG_Louise seems optimistic about the changing times. When asked if she would alter anything about 2013 to reflect life in the '50s, she said she would change "nothing" and went on to say, "I think things are better now."
GG_Louise thinks the greatest technological advancements of her lifetime have been in the medical field. "Out of our family of 5 children, 4 of us had diphtheria, and one of my sisters died, and we were quarantined in our house for about 3 weeks. Now, they have shots for babies to prevent it." The most unexpected advancement of her life, she said, happened before some members of her Reddit audience were even born: "The moon landing was a huge deal. I never thought I'd live to see that!"
GG_Louise is among a growing population of seniors who are using technology to connect. (And's GG_Louise isn't the only senior using Reddit, either!) Research this past May from the Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of Americans age 65 and older are now online. Pew also found that the percentage of seniors using social media has tripled since 2009.