Unlike my typical blogs, the following is a small speech I gave the other night at a surprise party after a fabulous Russian cuisine meal at Moscow On The Hill and before the candles were blown out on the cake by the guest of honor, her son who’d recently turned 60 and a grandson from afar via cell phone. It’s a tradition.
October 8, 2017
I am Nancy Rose Pribyl and my paternal grandmother died two and a half years before I was born. On the day I arrived my grandfather came to the hospital with this ring I am wearing today, saying that my grandmother has instructed him “If Charles ever has a daughter, I want her to have this ring.” My grandmother Neona was Dorothy’s cousin, her mother being the sister of Dorothy’s father. Though Dorothy is from two generations ahead of me, most of the generation between us is gone, she is actually more of a contemporary of my father, graduating from West High in Minneapolis with my uncle, a few years ahead of my Dad. Dorothy continues to gather alumni of West High from the 1940’s annually, as they are a demographic best served by not waiting to meet every five years.
My first recollection of Dorothy was about half of her lifetime ago, after returning to Minnesota she hosted a cocktail party with games. My parents did not have a sitter for me, so I tagged along. I remember that she was stunning and that my father and her could easily make each other laugh as they reminisced. Dorothy is one of few people I know that attended my parents wedding in May 1956 and the only one who has related to me with clarity what she wore. A yellow outfit that she worked on her tan for, she was 28 years old. She recalls fondly my parent’s courtship and how crazy they were about each other.
While we gather to celebrate the milestone of Dorothy turning 90, it made me wonder what else happened in 1927. Coolidge was in the White House and announced that he would not run for reelection, women had won the right to vote just seven years earlier and as a result the nation was in the midst of Prohibition. The musical Showboat debuted on Broadway. Ford ended the production of the Model T and ushered in the Model A, which could be purchased for $460 dollars. The Kodak Brownie camera could be bought for $2.29. Charles Lindbergh made the first solo transatlantic flight and quartz time keeping was invented. With travel and photography being more easily accessible to the masses, it seemed the world was ready for Dorothy, as long as Prohibition could be repealed before she became an adult. The first week of October that year saw the release of the movie The Jazz Singer which ended the silent film era and that same week work began on Mount Rushmore a monument featuring four men, none of whom lived through more American history than Dorothy has. Ninety years ago today, the New York Yankees won the World Series in a sweep of the Pirates and they continue to bruise the egos of teams to this day!
Dorothy has not simply been on earth for ninety years, she has actually lived for ninety years! She inspires all of us with how she has lived, spending last New Year’s Eve in Dubai because she had heard they had the best fireworks and reasoning that she had already rang in a New Year in both Las Vegas and New York. When a grandson was studying abroad over a milestone birthday, she traveled to see him and hiked in altitudes that were a challenge for others half her age. During her eighties she has sailed, cruised, danced in an Irish pub, attended jazz festivals and maintained relationships with friends and family. She even starred in a grandson’s short film where she was cast as a drug lord She attended one of my son’s high school plays because she saw it posted on Facebook. I personally find Dorothy to be more reliable than our local meteorologists; the first day of spring arrives annually when Dorothy announces it is a beautiful day for “going topless” and posts a picture of her in her convertible with the roof down.
As with all of you, I treasure the time I spend with Dorothy. My 25-year old daughter said after a recent lunch “I want to be her when I grow up!”. I believe we all do. Let us all raise a glass to Dorothy who has made 90 the new 60!