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York Township woman, 102, a devoted Phillies fan for 70 years

| Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

YORK — Now 102 years old, Catherine Hoffman lives alone in a room at Springwood Overlook in York Township. Her husband, Samuel Hoffman, died 30 years ago. Her daughter Leeanna died 12 years ago.

“When you get older, it's difficult,” she said. “I lost all my good friends. They're all gone. In here, if you make friends they're gone before too long.”

One constant, however, has been her team, her boys — the Philadelphia Phillies.

She sits in a recliner most nights, wearing earrings and with her white hair set perfectly, cheering a team she has followed for about 70 years.

On the arm rest of her loveseat, she has placed a plush Phillie Phanatic.

The link to her team has always been through television. Her husband worked in a shop that sold television sets, and the two of them followed the Phillies since “whenever we could watch them on TV.”

A picture from a Phillies calendar of her favorite player, Ryan Howard, rests next to Hoffman's recliner.

She holds up the picture and points at his face: “There's just something about the way he bats. ... He's my man.”

Hoffman attended school through the eighth grade, dropping out at age 14 — same as almost every girl she knew in the York City School District.

“Girls just didn't graduate then. You were done (at 14),” Hoffman said.

She lived through the Great Depression in York, and shakes her head at the memory of it.

“Oh God, you never forget any of it,” she said. “You just didn't have enough of anything.”

She remembers pushing a wagon with her brother through the city to a place where families could receive free fruit. She remembers living at a place on Allison Street, where her family paid $10 a month for rent. They moved to a house on Clark Avenue, opting to pay $11 a month in rent because it included a bathroom.

“No one had a bathroom — except rich people,” Hoffman said.

Although she's lost many friends, Hoffman remains friends with Ginny Freed.

Together, they worked in the York Suburban School District for many years. Hoffman spent 26 years working as the school cafeteria baker.

Freed, 94, made all the soup.

Before that, Hoffman worked at T.E. Brooks cigar factory at the corner of Poplar and Dewey streets for 25 years. She ran a machine that rolled cigars.

Nowadays, she plays bingo on Monday nights. She struggles sometimes to come up with names, even though it seems locked in her head.

“See, that's what happens when you're 102,” she said, laughing.

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