Poland baker, 79, closing up shop but still raring for high adventure
POLAND â" With two replaced knees, a pacemaker and a reconstructed foot, itâs getting harder for Georgieanna McArthur to log long days in the kitchen, so at the end of the year, sheâll close Georgieâs Goodies and retire from baking.
But not from adventure.
McArthur jumped out of a plane last month to celebrate her 80th birthday.
Sheâs already planning to skydive again for her 82nd.
In the past 15 years, she and husband Jim have gone parasailing, zip-lining and skydiving together â" the latter he describes as terrifying, she describes as amazing. Itâs easy to believe both.
âIâve done a few things that heâs questioned,â Georgieanna said, laughing.
Georgieanna, who doesnât officially turn 80 until October, spent part of her childhood growing up on a chicken farm in Auburn. The oldest of seven kids, she started cooking early.< /p>
âI think it was out of necessity,â she said. âMy mother wasnât a great cook; she was alright. None of my grandmothers were great cooks, so I donât know, I just loved it.â
Sheâd make corn chowder, scalloped potatoes, macaroni and tomato soup. As she got older, it was more baking desserts.
âWe enjoy life. That is what it is all about,â Jim McArthur said of his and his wife Georgieanna McArthurâs adventures.
Several decades into her first career as a dental assistant, a dentist commented one day that she was always bringing in cookies and bars for the staff. She ought to be selling them.
âIt was Thanksgiving, so I told the girls at work I would do their baking for them if they would cover my costs,â Georgieanna said. She made the same offer to her son, whose co-workers got wind of it. âI had orders coming out my ears with an oven that could only bake two pies at a time. I had 85 pies to make, plus breads and fudge â¦ I did it, but itâs like, âOh, my God.â â
Suddenly, she was in business.
âBy spring, I figured, I better get a license to do this,â she said. âThen in the fall, I got the (commercial) ovens. It kind of mushroomed.â
For 20 years, through Georgieâs Goodies, sheâs made pies, breads, whoopie pies, squares, fudge and cookies. She said she doesnât mess with computers, and the business isnât online â" customers find out by word of mouth and call her.
During craft fair season, Jim and a grandson also bring out her jellies and jams to sell. That will end, too.
After making a recent batch of 125 jars of hot pepper jelly, âitâs long days,â Georgieanna said, but still, âI think Iâll miss it, and I may get talked into something.â
She and Jim, married 35 years, met while he was in the dental chair. They had the ir first date on Friday the 13th, and every Friday the 13th since has been a date night.
Sheâd been vocal for years about wanting to skydive when he happened to spot a brochure at a golf tournament and brought it home six years ago.
âHe thought I was just fooling around with him all this time,â Georgieanna said. âHe was shocked that I really wanted to do that.â
A few days before that first jump, he decided to join her.
âYou want to see some complete fear â¦â Jim said.
Meanwhile, he said, his wife was smiling the whole way down, blowing kisses.
âWhen you first jump, itâs kind of a shock to your system and you catch your breath and then youâre fine,â she said. âYou donât feel like youâre falling, you feel like youâre flying. Youâre gliding, just like a bird.â
She jumped again last month at Skydive New England with two granddaughters, 18 and 33. A bad back prevented Jim, 77, from joining this time.
It was just as much of a thrill the second time, Georgieanna said.
âIâve got another granddaughter whoâll be 18 in two years so I plan on going with her,â she said. âEverybody thinks Iâm nuts. Either that or they want to go. You never know what Iâm going to do, which is good.â
Kathryn Skelton can be contacted at:
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