June Genthner’s 152-year-old home is filled with family memorabilia: pictures, mementoes of trips away, collected china. She glances around and remembers. It is the place where she and her husband lived since shortly after their marriage in 1951.
Social Security has been important to her. “It’s been great,” she said with a smile. The survivor benefit has allowed her to live independently even after her husband’s death three years ago.
Much earlier in her life, she recalled, she did domestic work. “I cleaned houses and did housekeeping jobs for people, mostly for my friends. I only have a grade school education; that’s the regret of my life. My grandparents raised me, and education wasn’t very important. I was delighted to encourage our daughter to go to high school and graduate from college. I was glad we could be persistent and push her on; she was ready give up in midstream. Now she works with computers at the University of Maine in Orono.”
She began collecting Social Security when she was 65; she is now 87.
Her late husband, she said, was a printer who eventually worked for the Bath-Brunswick Times-Record and the Kennebec Journal, from which he retired early because he had arthritis.
She acknowledges that her Social Security benefit is “pretty much” her sole source of income. “It’s very important. That’s especially so for Maine people; so many here don’t make big salaries. We’re sort of at the low end of the totem pole, I think, where salaries are concerned.”
And if she didn’t have Social Security, how would she manage?
“Not very well, not very well.”