Helen Butler was living on her own at age 14, and as she approaches her 100th birthday, she’s still living independently.

The Egg Harbor Township resident moved to Atlantic City by herself in early 1927, to escape having to work in textile mills in her hometown of Fall River, Mass.

“You do what you have to do,” Butler said.

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Convention Hall was just being built, she said. Now called Boardwalk Hall, it is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Butler watched the huge project take shape four blocks from her workplace, at the elegant Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, where she was a waitress in the employee dining room. She lived in company housing, she said. She also attended Atlantic City High School for two years.

Butler’s mother died in childbirth, when Butler was 4. Her father suffered from lung problems from working in the mills, and she had to quit school as soon as she turned 14 to get a job there herself. It was a hard life, so she followed married sister Delina Jones to Atlantic City, she said.

At age 18 she entered a training program to become a registered nurse at Atlantic City Hospital, which at the time only required two years of high school. She worked in hospitals and as a private-duty nurse, then married Atlantic City Electric worker Collwyn Butler and stayed home to care for their only child, also named Collwyn.

Later in life she returned to nursing, ran polio vaccination clinics in Pleasantville schools, and worked with the Red Cross. Butler, a widow since 1975, just gave up driving in June after falling and breaking her wrist. She turns 100 on Sept.14.

Bikes sought for needy kids

Drew Smith, of Linwood, will again be fixing up donated bikes to be given to needy children during the December holidays through St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church in Atlantic City.

The Atlantic County Utilities Authority will hold a bike collection from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the its Environmental Park, 6700 Delilah Road in Egg Harbor Township. For more information, call 609-272-6950 or email 2wheelers4tots@gmail.com.

$500 reward for stolen cat

The reward for the return of stolen cat Harley has increased to $500, said Judy Cantin of the Cape-Atlantic C.A.T.S. adoption center in Ocean City. Harley was stolen from the center in June.

Harley has an eye condition that needs regular medication, she said. Call 609-399-4CAT or email wehelpcats@msn.com.

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