Born in 1912, Addie Cornett Griffith has lived through events such as women marching on Washington for the right to vote, Ford Motor Company beginning their first moving assembly line, the Panama Canal opening, World World II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War just to name a few.
Raised on Line Fork in Letcher County, Griffith rode a mule to Pine Mountain Settlement School (PMSS) as a child to attend classes. She was the seventh child of nine children born to Jasper and Mary Cornett. After completing her studies at PMSS she went to live with a family in Wallins Creek, where she worked as a housekeeper.
“I had two older brothers, Winfield and Morgan, who had already gone to Boston, Mass.,” said Griffith. “One of the instructors at Pine Mountain Settlement School was a sister to a Mr. Wilbur who owned the Elliot Hotel in Boston and when the boys graduated she sent them to Boston to work for her brother. One of my brothers was a chef and the other was a pastry baker.”
While visiting her brothers in Boston in 1937, Wilbur offered her a position as a hostess and cashier at the Elliot Hotel. She accepted the position and worked in this department until 1939, after when she was promoted to assistant manager and later manager in 1941. She served in that capacity until the Elliot Hotel closed in 1952.
“I then began work at the Boston University Faculty Club where Mr. Wilbur had catered food,” said Griffin. “I remained there until September 1955 when I stepped into the position of manager of dormitory meals at the Myles Standish Hall. Mr. Wilbur and his family took me on vacation to Hawaii and best of all I was able to attend the Boston Red Socks baseball games. We went to the theatre and visited all the local attractions.”
In a letter from the Miles Standish administration dated 1956, Griffin was commended for the “fine job” she was doing and the “excellent manner” in which she conducted herself.
During her time in Boston, Griffin married Gerald Griffin. He passed away in 1950. They had no children.
Griffin retired at the age of 65 and relocated to Bean Station, Tenn. Shortly after her move to Bean Station, Griffin met her childhood sweetheart, Arlie Cornett, who was also living in Bean Station and they married. He passed away 16 years later.
Giving up housekeeping at the age of 93, Griffin moved in with her niece, Edna Davidson, who also lived in Bean Station. At the age of 95, Griffin moved to Harlan County, living with another niece, Pauline Hensley, 80 of Rosspoint, where she remains today.
Surviving ovarian cancer in her 90s, Hensley said her aunt is in pretty good health for her age.
“We have to help her walk, she can’t take off by herself,” said Hensley. “She’s just aging. She eats well — two or three meals a day. She loves omelets for breakfast. She’s really a one-of-kind person. She likes to think she is still running the show and she can be hard-headed at times, but there are times when she is very humble.”
Celebrating her 101 birthday on March 17, Hensley said they had a party with cake and ice cream and her nephew from Thorn Hill, Tenn. attended along with his family.
Griffin remains a member of the Bean Station Eastern Star, of which she is very proud. She was also a longtime member of the Bean Station Methodist Church before moving to Harlan County.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, firstname.lastname@example.org