Super Senior: Caroline Frey

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 11:29 AM EDT
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SAINT JOHNSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - Outside the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in Saint Johnsbury, 88-year-old Caroline Frey is digging in the dirt. She’s the president of the Seed and Weed Garden Club, a group of volunteers adding a little color to the community.

“I haven’t met a gardener who isn’t a nice person,” Frey said.

On this day they will be planting 115 flowers at the museum. Frey is in charge of the flower boxes. “Quite a project getting everything ready,” she said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What are those pinky, reddy things?

Caroline Frey: Oh, you need a lesson!

Lesson learned - they’re petunias.

Mary Waldron, another volunteer, has been getting her hands dirty with Caroline for over two decades. “She is just an inspiration for everybody,” Waldron said.

Caroline grew up just outside of Manchester, England. In 1939, just shy of her 7th birthday, her world, like so many others, changed forever. “That’s taken on family vacation the day war broke out -- we heard about it,” said Frey, looking at a picture from the time. “And we put, they put mattresses in, and I have a brother and a sister and the three of us slept under the stairs during the war, when the air raids came.”

The German V-2 rockets were the terror in the sky. “It was like a whine coming over -- stopped -- and then you knew that to cut off and it was on its way down,” Frey recalled.

The family had a victory garden growing vegetables for the war effort. Frey’s parents tried to give her a normal upbringing. And when the war ended, she and her friends would wander around the English countryside on their bikes exploring.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So you were a tough girl.

Caroline Frey: Independent. And I think I’ve stayed independent all my life.

That independence brought her to Boston as a registered nurse. Later, she met her future husband, Ray. He would get a job at Saint Johnsbury Academy. Frey has been in Vermont ever since.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You still have your accent though.

Caroline Frey: Yeah, but if I go back to England, they don’t think I do. They say I have a Yankee accent. So, you can’t win.

Back at the flower plantings, the ladies’ work is nearly complete, and Waldron plants a parting portrayal of Frey.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What is she like as a person?

Mary Waldron: She’s a hoot!

“I have a dry English sense of humor. That’s what it is,” Frey said.

An active Super Senior with a bit of flower power. “When I volunteer, I’m helping the community,” Frey said. “I have been blessed, I told you that.”

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