Margaret Gates has a heart for helping older people. The only thing is at 90 years old most of the senior citizens Gates helps to cheer up are years sometimes even decades younger.


"I really like to help people in a [retirement] home. But I hope and pray I never have to go to one."


But around the holidays, or after Gates and her helpers crochet a batch of new "warming scarfs," she and several other crocheters from Faith Lutheran Church in Hesperia head over to All Caring Senior Home, a nearby residential independent and assisted living facility. There the ladies hand out the scarfs and spread good cheer.


While knitting takes two long needles, crocheting creates fabric from yarn with a special hook. Besides scarfs, Gates has created pillow slips, table cloths, doll dresses and other ornate items. Women's scarfs tend to be more colorful than the men's, which Gates prefers to use sand, tan or brown yarn.


For Gates, crocheting is a form of relaxation, which she believes she needs to first earn. Before she begins work on an item she first tends to her chores. After tidying up her three-bedroom home, washing dishes and the like, she walks her two small dogs, a terrier and chihuahua mix. Finally after a busy day, she's ready to crochet.


"I only sew after I've had my dinner. And I will sew till midnight or one in the morning. I can crochet and watch TV at the same time."


A native of Columbus, Ohio, Gates has worked for all of her life. She was slowed down a bit as a teenager, however, when she contracted tuberculosis.


"I missed a year of school and graduated high school a year late."


After graduation, she went to beauty college and worked in a nearby salon. But when World War II broke out she enrolled in Ohio State University, working nights at the shop. Soon, however, she was hired as an airplane inspector, working at a airplane manufacturing plant until the end of the war in 1945.


Eventually, she followed her Navy seaman son, Steven, to Southern California. She worked for North American Rockwell, where she worked until she was laid off about 25 years alter. Then she landed a similar position at Lockheed in the San Fernando Valley.


"I love inspecting and looking at blue prints."


After retiring from Lockheed, she moved to Hesperia.


Every Tuesday, Gates and five or six "girls" who live in her mobile home park meet at the recreation center to crochet together. While it's taking a while to spread her passion for her craft, she continues to plug away.


"We're trying to get a lot of the new people to get into sewing."