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'One day at a time,' advises a 105-year-old T.O. woman

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By Anne Kallas[1]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

She celebrated her 105th birthday recently, but Lorena Volz of Thousand Oaks is still keeping herself busy with crossword puzzles, game shows, reading and crocheting little scrubbies she makes out of a special yarn that stands up to pots and pans.

“I like game shows like ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” said Volz, who lives at Hillside Manor, an assisted-living facility. She said she was looking forward to a birthday party with her son, three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Lorena Volz was born Oct. 9, 1905, in Oscoda, Mich., to Selma and Arthur Spring. The family moved to Alabaster, Mich., when Volz was 4 or 5, she recalled.

“On July 11, 1911, the town practically burned down,” she said. “We went down to the docks to go on the big boats and they were all full of people going to the water to escape. We went to the railroad to leave, but so did everyone else. It was madness.”

The family ended up in East Tawes, Mich., before settling in Alabaster. Volz had one sister, Lillian, who lived to be 100 years old, and two brothers, Art, who lived to be 86, and Carl, who died at 20 after an accident. “We didn’t have access to doctors and a brick fell on his head,” she said.

Volz said her childhood was a happy one. “I was as happy as I could be. There were hard times, but we had three square meals a day,” she said. When she graduated from high school, her class consisted of only six students. “There was one girl — me — and five boys,” she said, adding that she never considered any of her classmates as boyfriend material. “They were like brothers. We saw each other all day and that was enough.”

After graduation Volz moved to Flint, Mich., where she went to business college and learned typing and shorthand, skills she used through the years at various jobs in the automobile industry. “I worked for Fisher Body and Chevrolet,” she said.

She went out dancing regularly with her sister. “A streetcar went by our rooming house. After work was through, we would run home and eat as fast as we could, then we took the trolley and danced till all hours,” she recalled.

Volz was courted by a number of young men. “I had one I didn’t like too much and then he up and married someone else and then I didn’t like him at all,” she said with a wicked grin.

Eventually she ended up on a blind date with Harold Volz, whom she married in 1930. “We had a storybook wedding. We had it in my sister-in-law’s house and there was a big winding stairway. I came down on my father’s arm and there was one area girl who played the violin and someone else played the piano. It was a real storybook,” Volz said. She went to Montreal on her honeymoon and bought a fur coat for $10 down and $10 later.

The young couple settled in Saginaw, Mich., where Harold Volz managed a Ford dealership and Lorena Volz worked as a secretary. Their son, Donald Volz, was born Jan. 2, 1933. “He was a good child. As far as I remember he didn’t get many spankings,” she said.

Eventually Harold Volz was diagnosed with emphysema and the family moved to Mesa, Ariz., for the dry air. Harold Volz died in 1969 of complications from emphysema and diabetes.

Lorena Volz, who had worked at a number of area firms, including a food brokerage, eventually settled into a life of traveling with friends all over the world.

“Mom had many friends in Mesa. She traveled on senior trips to Alaska and Vegas to do a little gambling,” said daughter-in-law Kay Volz, of Thousand Oaks. “She really is the luckiest woman.”

Son Donald remembers taking his mom on a trip to Las Vegas a few years ago. “I got tired and went to bed and noticed that mom wasn’t back in her room, so we went looking for her. There she was by the dollar slot machines with boxes of coins she’d won,” Donald Volz said. “She didn’t want to leave the buckets because she was afraid someone would take them, but they were too heavy for her to carry, so I had to help bring them to the cashier. She’d won about $400.”

Eventually Lorena Volz moved to Marco Island, Fla., with her older sister, Lillian Bowles. When Bowles died two months after her 100th birthday, Lorena Volz moved to Thousand Oaks in 1995 to be near her son.

According to Romeo Lozano, the administrator at Hillside Manor, Volz is the oldest patient at the home. Volz said the key to a long life is “to live one day at a time,” although she acknowledges some luck is involved, especially considering that she smoked until she was in her 80s.

© 2010 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online [2]

  1. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/oct/26/one-day-at-a-time-advises-a-105-year-old-to/?print=1
  2. June Pelo asked for the right to publish. Answer: "Permission granted. Feel to free to distribute as you like. /Joe Howry/Editor/Ventura County Star" - 10 nov 2010

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