PIQUA — Approximately 40 students gathered around for a blast from the past on Friday. Piqua native Lucille Sansam, who recently turned 100 years old, visited the students of Nicholas School, part of the Hahn-Hufford Center of Hope, to talk to them about what it was like for her growing up in the early 1900s.
“She went to a one-room school,” Neurological Education teacher Susan Supinger said. “They had to walk in the snow.”
“I did,” Sansam said.
Before showing the students pictures of Sansam’s past that were 65 to 100-plus years old, students took turns asking questions.
“What did you do for your birthday?” one student asked.
“On the 16th, after my birthday, we had a party,” Sansam said. “We had a lot of people there.”
Sansam’s daughter, Shirley Norris, estimated that they had around 150 attend that party.
One student told Sansam that he liked to sing.
“My mother used to sing, too,” Norris said.
A student named John asked Sansam what she did for entertainment when she was a kid.
“We used to play in the snow,” Sansam said. “We had one wagon for seven of us.”
“So you had to use your imagination,” Supinger said. To the students, Supinger added, “No Xboxes, no iPads.”
“We didn’t have a TV,” Sansam said later.
“Back in those days, TV was a luxury,” Supinger said.
“We did have a radio,” Sansam said.
“Did they make any art back then?” a student named Easton asked.
Sansam said that they had some, but art was not as popular as it currently is.
When another student asked about what types of games Sansam used to play, she said, “We used to play outdoors most of the time … We just had to make our own (games) up.”
Some of the questions were also more light-hearted, including when one student asked, “When were doughnuts made?”
Sansam said that she did not know, but she remembers eating rolls instead of doughnuts.
Norris and her husband brought a CD of old photographs of Sansam and her family, which the school showed on a television for all the students to see. The photos were generally posed shots of Sansam and her family, including group shots of her extended family, along with shots of just Sansam with one other person. The oldest picture shown was of Sansam’s grandfather from the late 1800s.
A couple of the photographs showed the barn of the farm that Sansam grew up on outside of Fletcher.
“We had to work on the farm all the time,” said Sansam, the oldest of seven children. “We had to because the boys were born later.”
Other photographs showed snippets of Piqua in the background, including Fountain Park in the 1930s and Kitt Street in the later 1940s or early 1950s. Of the 23 pictures shown, only one was in color.
The students asked a few more questions after Sansam was done going over the pictures.
“Did they have refrigerators?” a student named Aiden asked.
Sansam explained how they had to take ice and stick it in an icebox to keep items cold.
“That’s like a cooler,” Aiden said.
Ben, a student, asked, “Was there war then?”
“World War I, I wasn’t very old, I don’t remember it,” Sansam said.
Both Sansam’s first and second husbands served in World War II. Sansam was married to John Lloyd Supinger between 1933 and 1949, when Supinger was killed in an electrocution accident. He served the Army and was stationed in France during the war. Sansam married her second husband, Paul Sansam, in 1956. He passed away in 2002. He was stationed in Alaska during WWII with the Army Air Corps.
“What was the Great Depression like?” Dustin, another student, asked.
“Pretty bad, we had do without a lot of things,” Sansam said. “We didn’t have it too bad … We had our own food.”
Because they lived on a farm, Sansam’s family was able to have enough food. Norris explained that when her mother went to school with a sandwich for lunch during that time, Sansam would trade her roast beef for the bologna that other kids had.
“It was something we never got,” Sansam said.
“What is the secret to a long life?” a student named Keelan asked.
“Really, I don’t know,” Sansam said before suggesting, “A clean life.” Sansam explained that she worked hard, and she never smoke or drank alcohol.
At the end of Sansam’s visit, the students sang “Happy Birthday” together to her.
NOTE: Nicholas School was not permitted to release the last names of the students interviewed in this story.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall