As America celebrates another birthday, a couple days later, Dulla (Aschliman) Schlaudraff will celebrate her 100th birthday!
Dulla was born on July 6, 1915.
She has received several birthday cards already. One very special card she said arrived just the other day. As she handed it to me, I noticed the return address was from Washington D.C…could it be a card from the President? Not just a card, but, a nice letter signed by President and Michelle Obama which read, “We trust you take enormous pride in all you have accomplished…”
Now at age 100, she remembers…and has accomplished.
Dulla grew up in Michigan, and at the age of 16 her family moved to the Waynedale-Baerfield area where her dad grew and sold wholesale vegetables and flowers. The Aschliman family moved again and built several more greenhouses on Ardmore Road. Memories of the family greenhouse was at times sad for Dulla. Her father died at the age of 50 from pneumonia. She recalled there were no antibiotics back then. Plus, it was the depression era. Dulla said, “What they call depression now is nothing like what we went through. Bread was 5 cents a loaf, if you had 5 cents.” Their home garden was what helped them survive. There were 5 children-Dulla was the oldest. She helped to keep the greenhouses growing. As soon as she got off the school bus her chore was to pick up items uptown on Columbia Street, Slaughter’s Hardware and Fort Wayne Pipe and Supply, picking up anything that they needed to keep the greenhouses running. “I lived 2 straight months out of the year at Barr Street Market,” she recalled, “selling vegetables and flowers.”
Walking to the back room in her home, Dulla gently dusts off a large beautifully preserved picture. As the year 1932 came around, this sixteen-year-old was in the first graduating class from Elmhurst High School. I asked her how she obtained the picture. She said it hung for many years in the school. Then, they moved it to where Mr. Goss stored extras for his theatre presentations. There was also a rifle range in that same area that they called “the tunnel”. Kids would sneak down there to smoke she recalled. One day it caught on fire. “I asked the school principal Mr. Eichoff if I could have that class picture.” Dulla went on to say that there were no school yearbooks back then. But there was a school newspaper. The Elmhurst School newspaper printed a picture of the graduating class with their names listed. As far as she knows, she is the only one in that picture that is still living.
Even though many years have passed, Dulla remembers the day they chose Elmhurst High School’s school colors, school song, cheers for the school assemblies and the basketball team. At this time in their school history only North Side, South Side and Central Catholic High Schools were open.
After raising two daughters, Joy Kizer (deceased) and Anna Wenger, she worked in the Elmhurst kitchen as the baker. One day the school board decided that if you are over 70 years of age, you are too old to be working there. So they fired everyone over 70! “Later on, I was rattling around with nothing to do so I applied for a part-time position in the food service center.” This amazing gal then continued her 42 years of service with Fort Wayne Community Schools until the age of 88.
In her free time Dulla loved to bowl and was a member of the Women’s Bowling Association for over 50 years. She was also Secretary/Treasurer for several leagues, team captain and bowling scorekeeper for many of the tournaments. “My best game was a 299,” she said. “I just couldn’t get that perfect game.”
Now, in her senior years Dulla is still sharp as a tack with lots of laughter. I asked, “What lessons can we learn from a 100-year-old lady?”
She smiled and said, “Keep busy!”
“Eat well. Breakfast. Dinner. Supper.”
“Enjoy the outdoors.”
Dulla has lived 70 plus years in the Waynedale area and continues to live in her own apartment.
Join this special lady as she celebrates her 100th birthday with an Open House on July 11, 2015 from 2pm-5pm at the Christ’s Community Church, 10616 Liberty Mills Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it is still a gift!
Happy Birthday Dulla!