In 1913 a flood swept through Dayton Ohio destroying thousands of homes, killing hundreds of people, and taking the lives of over one thousand horses. There are not many people alive today who can relay these memories first-hand, but Dorothy Staeuble is one who can. At one hundred and one years old she can tell you what she remembers of the flood: the death of her fathers’ horses as he tried desperately to lead them away from the too-quickly-rising waters of the Great Miami River.
Dorothy has lived in Dayton her entire life and, with the exception of the flood and the painfully challenging times during the Great Depression, she has fond memories of her life here. Memories of dancing with her girlfriends at Triangle Park where she says softly “I guess I was okay because someone always wanted to dance with me.” While the details are, at times, a bit fuzzy, the smile that brightens her face as she recollects those days of dancing is not. Memories of summer vacation bus rides to deliver lunch to her father, followed immediately by a walk through town to see a picture show. And, memories of a past well lived that has left her with a sense of heartfelt presence in all of her todays.
These days, you can find Dorothy nestled into the recliner, strategically placed, no doubt, near the door of her apartment in an assisted living facility. The large, open window in the room provides an abundance of light as numerous birds play just beyond its panes. She greets you with a smile, happy to have the company and when you ask her about her life and what it feels like to be her age she’ll tell you it is prayer that has kept her all of these years. So, she spends some of her days leading the rosary prayer with other residents, hoping that maybe, just maybe, it can give them the longevity it has already given her.
She may no longer be dancing, but she is still smiling as she shares pieces of her life with you. If you’re lucky, you’ll leave a friend as, even at one hundred and one years young, she’s still making new ones.