This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

LYNN, Mass.--At the busy McDonald's, Hazel Howard is in charge of the fries, handling them with pride and unwavering attention as both grease and orders fly about the restaurant.

A job any kid can handle? Hazel Howard is 90.

"I love it," said the grandmother of 12, great-grandmother of 14 and great-great-grandmother of one. "I don't have a hobby, and if you don't have a hobby, you've got to do something."

Howard, who raised four children on her own in this blue-collar city north of Boston, has never had a problem keeping busy.

Since retiring from an office job with a fuel company at age 65, Howard has worked at hotels, country clubs, catering companies and restaurants. She began working under the Golden Arches in 1986 and has since done everything from baking biscuits to flipping burgers.

"She is 100 percent reliable," said Steve Rima, Howard's boss. "She's just someone you can count on to do a great job every single day."

Howard makes the 10-minute drive from her home to work the lunchtime shift four days a week, operating the fryer with speed and dexterity and handling 200 to 300 pounds of potatoes a day, Rima said.

"It's one of the tougher positions," he said.

Recently, Rima threw a surprise birthday party for his star employee--who turned 90--interrupting her fry routine with about half a dozen relatives, cake and a restaurant-wide rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."

"She's eating this up," said Carol Hutchins, 55, the youngest of Howard's four children. "She deserves it. She's worked hard all her life. She's a very special lady."

Howard, whose co-workers include a 15-year-old, is the oldest McDonald's employee in New England and possibly the entire country, Rima said.

Howard's own reason for avoiding true retirement?

"I've enjoyed all my jobs, and all the people I've worked with are great," she said. "And I just like to keep busy, I guess."


1. pride

2. shift

3. handle

4. hobby

5. dexterity

6. avoiding

7. flipping

8. routine

9. reliable

10. employee

a. turning over

b. dependable; trustworthy

c. procedure

d. person who is hired for pay

e. delight; satisfaction

f. manage; deal with

g. working period of a group of workers

h. activity done for pleasure during spare time

i. skill in using the hands

j. keeping away from


1. e, 2. g, 3. f, 4. h, 5. i, 6. j, 7. a, 8. c, 9. b, 10. d