Rockland, Maine — At 78 years old, Max Oliver is an old salt. But to his crewmate on a lobster boat, he is but a child. Literally, he's her child.
Virginia Oliver is 101. She's Maine's oldest lobster trapper. Three days a week, May through November, Oliver is out working on Penobscot Bay, balancing on her sea legs and tackling one of the most hazardous jobs in the country.
Not long ago she was cut so badly she needed seven stitches.
"And the doctor said to me, 'What are you out there lobstering for?'" she said. "And I said, 'Because I want to.'"
The doctor may have thought it was a little too dangerous for someone her age, to which she responded, "Well I don't care what he thought!"
Oliver has been lobstering on and off since the age of seven. She used to go out with her father when it was considered a man's job — there wasn't another girl in sight. But 94 years later, she is the master of the sea.
After her son hauls in the traps, Oliver measures the lobsters, tosses out the small ones and then bands the keepers.
Oliver says she's the boss out there. If her son didn't want to go out one day, Oliver says, "No. I wouldn't put up with the stuff."
She expects nothing of her son that she wouldn't do herself, she said, unfortunately for her son.
"She doesn't give up," Max said. He added that if he wanted to retire, his mother would tell him, "You better have something wrong with you."
As for her own retirement date, she said you can find that one place and one place only: etched in her tombstone.
"When I die," she said.