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101-year-old Maine woman may be the oldest person in the world still lobstering

Virginia “Ginny” Oliver is 101 years old, but she won’t let her age get in the way of her favorite hobby. She was born in her parent’s home on Claredon Street in Rockland in June 1920. She still lives on that street, albeit in a different home. But this Maine woman became famous for her unique routine. Virginia and her 78-year-old son Max wake up at 2:45 a.m., drive an old Ford to the dock, where her late husband’s boat, named “Virginia” waits. Then they lobster in the waters off of Rockland.

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The 101-Year-Old Lobstering Woman in Maine

Although the trip isn’t as easy for Virginia as it used to be, she’s more comfortable on a boat than anywhere else. She and Max work in tandem, hauling the post, banding the lobsters, and filling bait bags. When she can, Virginia sits by the side of the boat and rests in the morning sun. She has definitely earned the local nickname “Lobster Lady”. [1]

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Victoria started lobstering when she was a child. Her father fished and lobstered for the local factory. “When I was probably 7 or 8, I used to take the boat over [to other nearby islands] to haul the guys over to work at my father’s fish weirs. I’ve dug clams — I used to get $5 a gallon, all shucked out! It was a lot of work, but I did it.”

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Much of the work was done alongside her brother, John Rackliff, who was 10 years older than her. “I used to go out hauling [lobster traps] with my brother when I was probably 7 or so.

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Victoria continued the tradition, teaching all four of her children to lobster. It was also an activity she had enjoyed with her late husband. Even on her days not lobstering, she wakes up by 4:40 a.m. “I’ve always had to get up early so that’s just my way of doing,” she said. “Somebody asked me when I was going to retire, and I said, ‘When I die!’ I might just as well do lobstering as to do nothing. I’d rather go and do that, so that’s what I do! I’m old enough to do what I want

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And death isn’t something she’s afraid of. “Everybody gonna die sometime,” she said. “You not gonna live forever, so why let it bother you?”

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“I like to be busy

She attributes her long life to her independence. “You just have to keep going otherwise you would be in a wheelchair or something,” said Virginia.

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When Filmmakers Wayne Gray and Dale Schierholt made a short documentary about Virginia Oliver, she wondered what the big deal was. To her, she’s just a woman in Maine doing what she loves. 

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Her regular routine continues with driving her white pick-up to Hannaford. “I usually bake beans on Saturday and (my kids) come for supper,” said Virginia, who is well-known for her baked goods. As for the lobsters the woman bands, she likes to eat them in a classic Maine lobster roll. 

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Fortunately, Virginia was able to maintain most of her regular routine during the pandemic. “I still go to the store about every day,” she said. “I may be only buying one thing, but I go, because I like to get out, and I still drive. I don’t want to think of when I can’t [drive]. Probably the time will come. But I like to be busy.

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She wore a mask and kept her distance from others while she was out and about. “Nobody wants to get it,” she said. “I hate wearing it, but what are you going to do? I have to watch when I take it off, that I don’t take the hearing aid with it. I usually put the mask on before I go into the store and take it off when I get in my truck so that if my hearing aid comes off, it’s in the truck. One day it did come out but fell right in my lap. I wouldn’t want to lose that. It would be awful!”

I don’t know how I’ve lived so long

However, instead of a big birthday party in 2020, Virginia got a huge birthday card and a parade. “I didn’t know about it,” she said. “I was in the kitchen. I looked out the window and there was this big sign out in front of my house that said ‘Happy 100th Birthday.’ So, I figured I’d better go outdoors to see what’s going on. They had a fire truck and blew the sirens, and the cars kept coming around! There were probably 100 cars. And a lot of them stopped and signed the big sign or got out and hollered ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.”

Her birthdays are momentous days, and even Virginia isn’t sure how she reached her impressive age. She’s outlived her parents and siblings — her mother died at 51. “I don’t know how I’ve lived so long,” she said. “But you’ve got to keep going![2]

Sources:

  1. “101-year-old Maine woman may be the oldest person in the world still lobstering. News Center Maine. Beth McEvoy. July 15, 2021
  2. “SHE DOES WHAT: Meet The Lobster Lady, Virginia “Ginny” Oliver.Main Women Magazine. Sheila D. Grant. August 1, 2020
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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