Frieda Becker celebrated her 104th birthday on Thursday.
As she sat in front of birthday cake at the Carriage Green senior living community, surrounded by lots of friends and family, she quipped, “I still have my marbles and a good appetite.”
She has said the secret to longevity is happiness.
“Just try to stay happy,” said the Milford woman four years ago when she turned 100. She struggled through the Depression and experienced the good and the bad times that go along with a long life. She said people need to enjoy simple pleasures, such as folding the laundry, preparing meals for the family, reading, crocheting.
Four years later, though she said her body is starting to make it harder to do things, like crochet, she still enjoys simple pleasures.
She moved into the Carriage Green facility a few months ago, and she said she loves it. She used to live with her daughter and son-in-law, and while that was comfortable and enjoyable, she said now she spends time talking to people her own age and whiling away the time.
They can talk about now, or they can talk about the past.
Milford was a very different place when Becker was a young girl growing up here.
People walked to their destinations. There weren’t as many cars, and people had more time to spend with their neighbors and simply enjoy life.
She was born Friederike Seeman in Maspeth, Long Island on Feb. 7, 1909, to Ferdinand and Johanna Seeman. In 1911 they moved to Bridgeport Avenue in Milford, where they maintained a 10-acre farm.
“I grew up there surrounded by pansies,” Becker explained. Her family ran a pansy farm off what is now Seemans Lane. In the summertime, her family raised vegetables, too, and took them to market in Bridgeport.
As a child, she and her friends would walk down Seemans Lane, then a dirt road, through the meadows to the beach.
They walked through the meadows’ open fields that sprouted tall salt hay growing from very moist earth. Those meadows now are the Meadowside area homes.
Becker attended the one-room schoolhouse on what is now Schoolhouse Road. Six grades were housed in the one room, and when she finished there, she attended seventh and eighth grades at Central Grammar School.
After that, she worked on the family farm.
She remembers walking over the Washington Bridge when it first opened in Devon, and Mayor Ben noted that memory when he read a proclamation in her honor on Thursday.
Becker continued to live on Bridgeport Avenue after she married Lewis Becker on Oct. 1, 1927. The couple raised four children: Lewis, Shirley, Beverly and Donald.
Their home was an expanded farmhouse that stood where the Walk-in Center on Bridgeport Avenue now stands.
When the kids were young, she would meet a neighbor and walk to Lafayette Street to take the trolley to Walnut Beach. Those were the days when a set of trolley tracks ran down the middle of Broad Street and to the beaches, and when amusement rides dotted Walnut Beach.
Lewis Becker worked as a salesman for Milford Lumber, which was across from the railroad station downtown. Later he went to work at the Builders Supply on New Haven Avenue.
The Beckers lived in Milford for all but nine years, when they moved to Southbury. When they returned to Milford, they moved to Ryder Mobile Park. Lewis Becker died just as the couple was readying to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.
Asked what it feels like to be 104, Frieda laughed and said, “Tired.”
But there was the laugh and the smile, and she said she is still happy and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.