Nellie Grasso’s mother always made sure that she had a birthday cake every year, even if her birthday actually only came once every four years during the Leap Year.
Nellie is a Leap Year Baby, born Feb. 29, 1916 in Boston to Joseph and Mary Dotolo, but said her birthday was celebrated every year.
“I just want to walk,” she says of her birthday wish. Actually she walks pretty well around her home not far from Squire Road – no walker or cane needed.
“I don’t like walkers or canes, so I don’t go out. I walk around in here,” she said
Nellie is a character and very spry for 103, but she has given up her favorite activity of cooking and baking.
“I made a thousand cookies three years ago,” she said with her family confirming
She has also let it be known that she is not found of technology – actually she’s had the same landline telephone for over 70 years – she’s got the same number too.
Nellie was married to Salvatore, who worked at General Electric as a carpenter, and they had two children, Dennis and Geraldine, both of whom passed in their 70s.
Nellie has been in Revere all her life, growing up on Thorndike Street. She attended the Paul Revere School.
As to the secret of a long she doesn’t have one, only to say that she’s likes everything that’s happened in her life. She’s a huge fan of going out to eat, and she remembers one granddaughter taking her to the Palace in Saugus to see Men in Motion.
She shared a story about going out on the highway with her mother to buy a chicken many years ago, one freshly slaughtered and cleaned. But she was never a big fan of going to Revere Beach – she admits that she didn’t want to put on a bathing suit.
Nellie remembers when they purchased their home and could watch the airplanes land and take off (something she had never done) from what is now Northgate Shopping Mall. She also remembers the new development had a model home.
“I went in and bought the house,” Nellie said. “My husband walked in and I told him I bought a house. He said, ‘very good’.”
Her advice for living long?
“Hot peppers and fish, and laughter,” Nellie said.