Harold Elliott has different theories about how his grandmother, Gertrude Virgin, has lived 106 years. Maybe it was walking up and down Sand Hill in Augusta much of her life. Maybe it was the years of hard work in the mills and hospital. Or maybe it was the 7 and 7s she and her cousin drank almost religiously.

“Once at lunch and once at dinner,” Elliott said of the drink, which features a combination of Seagram’s Seven Whiskey and 7Up soda. “During Lent they gave it up, but they always had a brand new half-gallon open when it was over.”

Whatever the secret, Virgin has made the most of the life that now has extended six years past triple digits. From babysitting into her 70s, working until she was almost 80, and dancing any time there’s a party, Virgin has packed a lot into her 106 years.

“She’s quite a spitfire,” Elliott said.

Much of her family, which includes five generations from a daughter to great-great-grandchildren, gathered Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Care Center in Gardiner where she has lived for the past few weeks. Mayor Thom Harnett presented Virgin with a certificate recognizing her at the city’s oldest resident. Virgin held the same title in Augusta for at least part of the nine years she spent at The Residence at Gray Birch before moving to Gardiner.

“Everyone enjoyed it,” Elliott said of the party. “Everyone had a good time.”

Virgin was born Dec. 28, 1908, in Orono. She was one of nine children, all of whom have predeceased her.

“Her baby brother died a couple of years ago,” Elliott said.

Virgin can recall little detail of her childhood now, but in the past has regaled Elliott of pranks pulled during her youth, like absconding with a bloomer-full of apples.

“She was quite a tomboy,” Elliott said. “She used to hang around with her brothers and their friends and was always getting herself in trouble.”

Virgin also has told Elliott about the struggles of growing up poor and living through the Depression.

“Kids today have everything under the sun,” Elliott said. “Back when she was a kid, they had to make due with what they had or improvise.”

Virgin grew up and lived in Augusta for more than 80 years. She had two children, William Virgin, who died at age 21 in a crash while home on leave from the military, and Elliott’s mother, Irene Elliott, who attended Sunday’s party.

Virgin worked at the city’s cotton mill and shoe shop before taking a job as a cook and housekeeper at MaineGeneral Medical Center. She stayed at MaineGeneral for 38 years, retiring at 78.

“She’s always kept herself going,” Elliott said.

Getting to work or shopping downtown meant trekking up and down Augusta’s steep and lengthy Sand Hill, usually with her cousin. The exercise helped keep her fit and likely contributed to her longevity, Elliott said.

“Basically, everywhere she went she walked,” he said. “Probably it was going up and down that hill and working hard all their lives. I think she’s always kept herself going.”

Her mind has lost some of its acuity, and her hearing is faint, but Virgin is otherwise in very good health. She uses a walker for balance, but continued to walk twice a day until leaving Gray Birch. On a few occasions those walks took her outside, where, confused by her surroundings, she had to be led back to Gray Birch. The incidents led to the decision to move her to the Alzheimer’s Care Center.

“The transition went pretty good, but it’s a real nice place down there,” Elliott said. “They really take good care of people.”

Life, in some ways, has been full of transitions. When Virgin was born, the primary mode of local transportation for most people were legs, either their own or that of horses. World War I was still six years away and mechanized human flight was just 5 years old.

“She doesn’t understand the technology we have today,” Elliott said. “She thinks it’s foolish.”

Some of the staff members from Gray Birch who attended Sunday’s party recalled the speed with which Virgin moves.

“Before you knew it she was out the door,” Elliott said.

Virgin danced at her 100th birthday party and at the wedding of Elliott’s daughters over the past few years. She even managed to get in a few steps during this year’s Christmas party. She hasn’t slowed down much.

“She gets around,” Elliott said. “She likes to take her walks and play Beano. She’s always been a character. All my life she’s always teased and danced. I have a suspicious feeling she’s going to make it another year.”