Why She’s Interesting: Scotland’s life is anything but average. Upon graduating from high school in 1943, she landed a job at Perfection Stove Co. in Cleveland where she learned how to rivet pieces of metal that were used in F-15 fighter planes. This hands-on position transformed her into one of the many who looked up to the iconic allegorical figure, Rosie the Riveter, who inspired women to take part in the workforce. At 95, she’s still working as an instructor at Hillcrest YMCA.
Mama’s Girl: Scotland gets her strength from her mother, her greatest inspiration. After Scotland’s father died from tuberculosis when she was 8, her Italian mother was faced with raising four children by herself in a foreign country. Her mother’s first step was to buckle down and learn to read, speak and comprehend the English language. “She wanted it so bad, she took the time and energy to grasp it. She was a survivor.”
Life as Rosie: Graduating from Brush High School during World War II meant entering into a world marked by warfare. Several of her fellow classmates jumped into the service and Scotland, though only 17 at the time, eagerly wanted to help contribute to the war effort. Her position at Perfection Stove Co. wasn’t quite the role she expected, though. “I wanted to be secretary. But [the boss] said he didn’t have an opening in the office, but [he had one in] the plant.”
Train of Thought: One of her most poignant memories is hearing the troop trains pass by where she worked on Ivanhoe Road two or three times a week. “We would wave white handkerchiefs and they would be yelling and half-hanging out of the window. Whenever I hear [a train whistle], I have a flashback.”
Italian Roots: Though Scotland’s immigrant parents worked hard to make America their home, their Italian heritage is still a big part of her life, especially when it comes to food. She credits her longevity to the Mediterranean diet. “Food plays a big part, and all our life we never had sweets.”
Homing Beacon: The story of how Scotland met her husband reads almost like one of her favorite Nicholas Sparks books: he was the man who first taught her how to rivet in 1943. They moved to Lyndhurst, had a daughter, and built the house that Scotland still lives in today. “For 70 years, I have never moved from here. It’s the most wonderful city you could plan on living in.”
Twinges and Hinges: Scotland is still going strong as the director of the aerobics water class, Twinges and Hinges, at the Hillcrest YMCA. After taking a few of the exercise classes herself, Scotland has been leading it for about 13 years. “Psychologically, it’s good for me.”
One Wish: Before Scotland and her husband fell in love, she had a boyfriend, John Battstone, who enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in Italy during World War II where he became a prisoner of war. Although Scotland has very little regrets about her life, if she could go back and do one thing over, she wishes she could return his Air Force wings and uniform buttons which he gave to her. “All these years I had put them away. I’m wondering who could help me see where he is.”
Interesting Fact: Scotland crocheted afghans for all of her nieces and nephews when they got married.