Virginia "Ginny" Oliver's story is one that challenges the traditional idea of retirement. A living legend in the world of lobstering, Ginny has spent nearly 90 years aboard lobster boats, defying age and expectations.
Born in 1920 on Claredon Street in Maine, Ginny still calls this place home, though not in the exact same house where she was born. Together with her late husband, she purchased a house on the very same street—a place where she raised her four children and a spot that her cherished grandchildren love to visit.
Ginny's lobstering journey began at an astonishingly young age—she was just 8 years old. Side by side with her father and brother, she fearlessly braved the waves, hauling in lobsters and sardines to sell to local factories. However, they always kept a portion of their catch for themselves. Even today, Ginny finds pure delight in savoring a Maine lobster roll, served on a grilled bun with a touch of mayo—simple and exquisite.
But Ginny's talents extend beyond the sea; she is also renowned for her baking skills. Her doughnuts, cakes, and brownies have achieved legendary status. Every week, her family gathers to partake in a longstanding Sunday night tradition: Ginny's homemade baked beans. It's a delicious reminder of the love and warmth that emanate from her kitchen. Recently, Ginny's 75-year-old son, Max, returned home to support his remarkable mother, although it's clear that Ginny can hold her own just fine. At over a century old, Ginny knows that her days are limited, but she embraces life with a steadfast motto: "You're not gonna live forever, so why let it bother you?" She is a resilient and spirited soul, affectionately known as "The Boss," and she takes immense pleasure in living up to her title.
Alongside her unwavering determination, Ginny possesses an infectious sense of humor. When her doctor once questioned why she continued lobstering at the age of 103, Ginny responded unequivocally, lacing her words with wit: "Because I want to." Despite a career spanning more than 90 years, Ginny has remarkably suffered few injuries along the way. And when she did encounter an injury, it wasn't at the claws of a lobster but rather from a daring crab. While gathering crabs for her son-in-law, one of them managed to give her a nip, resulting in seven stitches. Ginny chuckles at the memory, remarking that if a bone hadn't been in the way, that crab might have made off with her finger entirely.
Yet, amidst her extraordinary journey, Ginny remains deeply concerned about the future of Maine's lobster population. Lobsters comprise a staggering 82% of the state's commercial fishing industry, but offshore wind development, tidal changes, and overfishing pose potential threats in the years to come. Lobstermen are allotted a specific number of pots to haul, and they must exercise caution by only keeping mature lobsters while allowing juvenile crustaceans to grow and reproduce, ensuring the continued growth of the population.
When asked about retirement plans, Ginny's response is resolute: it will only come "when I die." Hopefully, that day is far into the future, as Ginny, affectionately known as "The Lobster Lady," possesses a vitality that puts people half her age to shame. She even has a boat named after her—a well-deserved tribute to an extraordinary woman who has dedicated her life to the sea and has become an emblem of resilience and inspiration.
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