BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Consalvo has taught exercise for 63 years

“Been There, Done That” is a recurring feature in the Marblehead Current spotlighting Marblehead seniors.

Name: Vivien Consalvo 

Age: 85

Place of birth: Claremont, New Hampshire 

How long have you lived in Marblehead?

I’ve lived here since 1960. I was living in Allston with my first husband, and one day he wanted to go for a drive. We got to Marblehead, and I told him, ‘I want to live here.’

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Definitely our family gatherings with relatives and friends. My mother and father were wonderful cooks. My dad every Sunday would cook a big steak, homemade French fries and vegetables from our garden. My mother would make pastries and bring them to the neighbors. Life was more family-oriented then. I think we’ve lost that.

What jobs have you had and what was your favorite?

I went to college at Mt. Ida College in Newton to become a medical technologist. I worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in hematology. I used to draw blood on the wards and go back and do all the testing by hand. There were no computers back then.

After the Brigham, I worked at the Marine Hospital in Brighton doing research on prenatal care for diabetic mothers.

In the early ’80s, I taught physical education at Nazareth Academy in Wakefield. I had 300 girls. I coached and also did choreography for the spring plays. We did the “Wizard of Oz,” “Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” That was my favorite job, I think.

At age 85, Vivien Consalvo continues to teach exercise at the Marblehead Senior Center. CURRENT PHOTO BY LEIGH BLANDER

I’ve also been teaching exercise for 63 years, starting at the Marblehead Y when I was 22 years old. I still teach today, at the Senior Center. I do weights, balls, stretch bands.

I also work in the dining room at the Lafayette (Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility) three days a week. I guess I’m a workaholic.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the world?

How people act. I don’t think they’re as caring as they used to be. When I moved into my neighborhood, all the neighbors came over with gifts to show appreciation and to welcome me. When someone got sick, we’d go over and take care of their children for the week. It was caring, caring for other people. That’s what I miss.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

That I did it on my own. I worked my way through college, I worked my way through my first marriage and I’m still working.

(Consalvo also lists her three children and three grandchildren as accomplishments.)

Who’s the most important person you’ve met?

My second husband, Bill. He was a jewel. He was the most generous, wonderful man. We went out for 17 years and then got married. He was just so kind and so nice and so funny. He was the epitome of the perfect man.

(Bill Consalvo passed away 26 years ago.)

What moment in history is most vivid in your memory?

When World War II ended. I was 8 years old. I think I was the happiest little girl on earth because I didn’t have to stand in line with my mother for a 5-pound bag of sugar or her nylons.

You were rationed in those days. You got one pound of butter and no meat. We ate rabbits… you did what you had to do.

What piece of advice do you have for young people today?

Love your mother and father and your friends, and be good to people. Don’t be afraid to be good to people.

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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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