Woman’s death breaks a link to the past
The stories told about Sadie Angiolini evoke a simpler time in western Nevada County when people worked hard, enjoyed the pleasures at hand, and rarely ventured far from home.
Her death Sunday at age 100 also marks the end of an era, as she was the last surviving employee of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad.
The job was an experience she recalled with fondness long after the railroad closed in 1942, according to her longtime Nevada City neighbor Barbara Byars.
“She loved to reminisce about the narrow gauge when it was up and running,” Byars said. “She loved to reminisce about Grass Valley in the early 1900s and what a wonderful place it was to live.”
Mrs. Angiolini was born in the family home on Eureka Street on Jan. 27, 1905. She graduated from the old Grass Valley High School and married Tarquinio “Tack” Angiolini in 1929, a 61-year union that almost ended early.
“Her husband tried to teach her how to swim, and she almost drowned,” Byars said. “That was it. She said she would never swim again.”
She also abandoned the notion of learning how to drive. “Her husband was teaching her how to drive, and her mother was afraid she would get hurt and asked her to stop,” Byars said. “So she stopped and she never drove.”
The Angiolinis never had any children, stayed close to home, and led a quiet life.
“They were the kind of people that worked, went home when the sun went down, and you never saw them,” said Bill Falconi, a longtime city engineer for Nevada City who knew the family.
Mrs. Angiolini was a bookkeeper and typist for a short time at the railroad. Her husband and sister were also employees of the railroad, but Mrs. Angiolini was the final member of the railroad’s Last Man Club from 1996 until her death.
After her husband died, she lived alone in her Boulder Street home until she was 98. “She was very independent and was very lucid until about six months ago,” said Dale Teubert, her conservator.
Byars recalled that even bad knees couldn’t slow Mrs. Angiolini down. “She would sit and vacuum and mop from her wheelchair,” Byars said. “She wanted to do it herself.”
And Mrs. Angiolini wasn’t afraid to take on city hall, even at the age of 90, when Byars was having trouble remodeling her house.
“She called the mayor (Paul Matson) and she said, ‘I’ve lived next door to that house since 1929 and I’ve been waiting all these years for somebody to fix that place up. I’m 90 now, and I want you to hurry up and give that lady permission because I want to see it finished before I die,'” Byars recalled.
Byars, who owns Byars Antiques in Grass Valley, found Mrs. Angiolini to be a good neighbor. “She was a wonderful woman. She was eccentric; she was very private … but with me she was always sweet.”
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