Gable is a familiar face to many she has cared for during the 20 years she has worked at Little People’s Corner Childcare Learning Center in Hickory Flat.
Others in the community might remember her from the many years she worked at Canton Textile Mills when the company was in operation.
“There is nothing more rewarding than getting a hug and a smile from a child even after they have grown up and have children of their own,” she said. “I still am receiving hugs when I run into them at public places, especially at Cracker Barrel — which is my favorite place to eat.”
For Gable, the fact she can still drive to work each day and be with those she loves is a blessing.
“When I wake up each morning, I thank God for letting me have one more day to be able to be get up and go to a job where I know there will be a hug from a child and a smile from one of my co-workers,” Gable said. “I am so blessed to be a part of the day care.”
Her daughter, Peggy Gable Freeman, has nothing but admiration for her mother.
“I think it is amazing that she still gets up every day, drives herself to work at a day care center at the age of 90,” Freeman said.
To Gable, her dedication and work ethic are simply a part of what makes her tick.
“They have made me as part of their life there, and tell me all the time that as long as I want a job and I’m able to come to work, that the door will always be open for me,” she said. “That keeps me going and I hate just sitting around the house. I have never been one to just sit idle.”
Gable was born in 1922 in Knoxville, Tenn. Her parents soon moved back to the Toonigh community in Cherokee County where she grew up.
At the age of 14, she took her first job caring for children.
“I lived in Toonigh and started working for a family out of Woodstock being a nanny,” Gable said. “I guess you could say I have come full circle with my first job keeping babies and now my present job working at the day care center. I worked as a nanny until the family moved to New York.”
Soon after, she met a young man by the name of Hubert Gable, and in 1940 the two were married.
“It was then when jobs were plentiful in Canton at the cotton mill and my husband and I decided to move our family to Canton,” she said. “I loved being a mother, but I realized that I could give my children more if I started working full time to help support our family so we made the decision for me to work in the old cotton mill no. 1.”
“I would work during the day and my husband would work on the night shift so that someone would always be with our children. I worked hard and have been working ever since.”
In 1954, the couple moved to the Cotton Mill Village with their four daughters.
In addition to Freeman, Gable’s daughters are Jane Gable Brown, Diana Gable Threewitt and Glenda Gable Gayton. The couple’s first daughter, Beverly Ann Gable, died at birth. The couple also had one son, Danny Ray Gable.
“Soon after that I gave birth to our only son. I remember the house on Middle Street. It had a living room, kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom,” she said.
Later, the family moved to another home on Riverdale Street, which they later purchased when the mill sold the houses instead of renting them to employees.
“The house was still small but we gained an extra bedroom and more land,” Gable said. “Even though our house didn’t have three or four bedrooms and several bathrooms in it, we had just as much love back then as a family does now — maybe even more because we appreciated things more back then than people do today.”
Gable remembers those times fondly. She said she has seen a lot of changes over the course of 90 years.
“We loved living in Canton because you could walk to town anytime of the day or night,” Gable said. “You didn’t have to drive to the department stores. We had all we needed with Jones Department, Worley’s shoe store, Key’s jewelry store and Rosenblum’s where I would put all of my kid’s school clothes on layaway. We could even walk to Dr. Looper’s doctor’s office or even to Dr. Edge’s office when we had dental work done.”
Her “girls” as she calls her daughters who all grew up working at Grist Landers Drug Store in downtown Canton.
Gable said she is reminded of what the town was like back then when she drives through Canton each morning on her way to work. And while much has changed, much has also remained the same.
“Yes, the streets are one way now and departments stores have changed, but not the people,” she said. “People here in Canton are just the same whether walking in downtown Canton or walking at the shopping stores around Canton.”
Although Gable has worked at a lot of jobs in her 90 years, she says the most rewarding is working at the daycare center.
“After the death of my husband in 1989, I started working in the baby room rocking and loving on newborn babies,” she said. “I would assure new parents that their little one would be in good hands until they returned. Years later, I moved up with some of them to the 12- to 18-month room. I stayed in this room for about 14 years.
During that time, she would open up the daycare center, make coffee for all of her co-workers and greet the early birds “as they rubbed their little eyes.”
“I could see all of the children as their parents walked them into the daycare and was able to get thousands of hugs and smiles over the years,” she said.
After keeping babies and toddlers for years, Gable moved to another position at the daycare where she sews bibs for the babies, makes bed coverings and curtains and more.
When Gable talks about what matters in life, she points to her faith, her family and her work.
“The most important thing has always been my faith in God first, then my family and then my work and work ethics,” the soon-to-be 90-year-old said. “We always took our children to church so they could learn about Jesus. Then, we taught our children that when they got a job to give it your all. I believe in working hard no matter what age.”
Gable has no plans of quitting anytime soon.
“As long as God blesses me with good health and good eye sight, so I can drive to and from work,” she said. “Also, my doctor tells me that working keeps me going so I don’t stop. I’d rather be working and seeing all the children and their parents than sitting in a rocking chair rocking away my years. Of course, I do get tired, but it’s much more fun and exciting watching the children than sitting watching TV,” she said.
Gable says there are many blessings to her job.
“I can truly say I love getting up and knowing I have a place to go to work. I know that I am part of a place that makes a difference in children’s lives. The children at the daycare have always called me, “Granny.” and I want to live up to that role model,” Gable noted.
Some of the children that pass through the doors may not have a grandparent living or one that lives close to them so she likes to be able to give them that hug and smile like only a grandma can.
Hugs from a child are “priceless,“ she says.
“I pray I will be workings years to come so I can continue to receive thousands more,” Gable said.
“Yes, things and times have certainly changed over the course of 90 years but one thing that has never changed and that is my love for the children. I love all of my hugs and kisses and all of the smiles that I have received. Each and every one of them has been priceless.”