Continuing with my 100th year birthday celebration, I would like to tell you what Laurie Magnant-Oliver, my Vermont grandaughter, presented to me. A lovely book containing a volume 0f all my postings from August 24, 2009 to June 28, 2010 with autographed comments from family members, in addition to the comments from my cyberspace friends. What a treasure!
I was so enthused and happy to be embraced by this beautiful garden of human love -flowers that I could not imagine even in my wildest dream, that I would be able to embrace any more. But I did! I wish to end this chapter sharing with you an essay written by one of these flowers, also a real Angel, one who guards me night and day, my own daughter Angela. Here it is:
Elvira S. Oliver
The Oldest Blogger on Earth
Everybody in Carmel, N.Y. who takes the Paratransit bus knows her as Elvira, the oldest blogger on earth. Her chariot picks her up outside the front door of Hughson Commons in Carmel, N.Y. a haven for senior citizens. With silky white hair blowing in the wind, she leans lightly on the polished branch 0f a mahogany tree and, softly smiling, greets the bus driver and his aging crew. In spite of her years, she moves gracefully reminding one of an elegant but feminine Yoda, as she steps into the bus. At 99, she imparts a tough wisdom and is the epitome of independence and a good natured feistiness.
Delivered by a neighborhood midwife of Italian immigrants, Arcangela and Salvatore Sperduto of Brooklyn, N.Y. on July 18, 1910, Elvira Oliver grew up so Italian she didn't realize she was American until she was well into her teens.
Elvira gave up her car at 98, because she lost the vision in one eye as the result of a mini-stroke. She prefers to take the bus so she isn't a burden, but her daughter will drive her anywhere. "I want to do things myself and remain as independent as possible" is her mantra. If you visit her apartment, you may smell fried onions and meatballs simmering in sauce. Complete pasta dinners are still served at her house for her family. Still cleaning and shopping for herself. Elvira loves to go out on the Paratransit meeting new people and relaying her stories.
From the time she was 8 years old until she started high school she worked as a clerk in her mother's Italian grocery store on the ground floor of the three-story brick apartment building her parents owned. While waiting to serve customers you could find Elvira roller skating over the wooden floor getting in some treasured moments of playtime. Papa crafted a small wooden stool on which she sat at other times, st0ically, in the shadows behind the counter doing homework and keeping a list 0f all the transactions. Until starting school she spoke only Italian, and shyly blushed for a long time while speaking English. These feelings of embarrassment and the desire to overcome them led her to become a good writer with an extensive vocabulary. Now, looking up every word that is not familiar continues a childhood habit. Yet, today she is articulate, animated, self-confident, outgoing, and she tells a good story.
Elvira worked her entire life until 80 years old. Laboring as an executive secretary for the top staff of large companies, a speed queen of dictation, she could clock in at 125 wpm and type at 100 wpm. When she made changes in letters and reports making them more spirited, her bosses soon realized she was an excellent writer. Eventually, she composed sales and other correspondence with her bosses just dictating the gist of what they'd like.
Elvira married a man of English descent whose father was a mining engineer and the head of an upper middle-class family in Oxford, New Jersey. They met at a friend's wedding. She was very sensitive about her immigrant roots and sometimes suffered from the family's unfortunate but rather typical attitudes towards "Eyetalians".
Martin, her husband, who workeed as a salesman for Merck Corporation traveled extensively in the South, keeping him away from home for weeks at a time. With her husband away, she made all the decisions facing the family.
After twelve years, Elvira separated from her difficult and painful marriage. By standing up to her husband, she delivered herself into a state of liberation. Taking on the responsibility of a family by herself, she became a pioneer in this endeavor. Elvira continued to live in the apartment she had shared with Martin, for divorce was still scandalous during the late 40's. She became a modern woman as she plowed her way through difficult work situations and raisd her three young children without support from Martin. She faced the world of work where many bosses tried to take advantage of her excellent skills and her marital status by giving her too much work and too little pay. If she didn.t get a raise she deserved, she would quit. She was so talented, she could easily find another job. She has lots of stories.
Because she is a fighter, Elvira does not allow anybody to take advantage of her. When a product doesn't live up to its advertisements, when promises are made and not kept, when someone tries to exploit or opportunize, she starts to write. She writes to CEO's, managers, town officials, congressmen. whoever can act as an arbiter of injustice. She usually wins. So many times she has been right, and through extensive organization and record keeping has been able to prove it.
Elvira once worked for Congresswoman Edna Kelly of Brooklyn, one of the first women in Congress. Forced to put her children in a boarding school for children from broken homes near Verbank, New York because she could not afford or find the day care she needed, she worked two jobs providing for her children's needs. Many years later, the good congresswoman introduced what became legislation, for a tax exemption for the cost of licenced childcare, on behalf of Elvira and other working mothers in similar situations. Today, Elvira is very proud of her three children Tom, Floyd and Angela who are all retired now. Tom became an Air Force Major, Floyd the Station Manager in Wqashington, D.C. for American Eagle Airlines, and Angela a Child Welfare Administrator. She has three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
In her Blog, she takes you back to the early years of the twentieth century and how it felt to be an Italian-American through her story "The Joy of Growing-up Italian"which has spread world-wide over the Internet, unfortunately without giving her even a byline other than "Anonymous".
Eric Shackle an Internet Investigative Reporter and Publisher well-known for his blog "Life Begins at 80" has reviewed all of the different versions she has written over the years and compared them to those on the Internet and believes she is the actual author. He also saw her driver's license and has verified her as the oldest blogger in the world, as known to date. He was a friend of the two previous bloggers wro died at 107 and 108.
It has been one of her remaining goals in life to receive credit for the story which she circulated to all of her friends and acquaintances of Italian descent by the hundreds across the years, and is now read aloud in Italian-American Clubs all across the country.
The oldest blogger on earth can take you back in great detail to World War I, the influenza epidemic of 1918, the Depression of 1929 (she was the sole support of her family of eight), World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. As a child, she lived jn a world without electricity or modern conveniences and tells stories about small apartment buildings in Brooklyn that had only one commode in the cellar for all the tenants. Across the years, Elvira has seen many mechanisms of living morph from one form into another....gas lights into incadescent electric bulbs, boiling laundry on the stove, scrubbing it on washboards and hanging it out on the line, to automatic washers and dryers. Elvira is Time's witness. Her blog relates the saga familiar to only a few of our oldest seniors. With her long and eventful life, Elvira can fascinate you and make you laugh and cry, and people of all ages will enjoy her blog.
By Angela D'Ambrosio
In my next chapter, I will tell you how my one hundreth birthday continued for several more days. Lucky for me that ladies' hats presently are not in vogue, otherwise I would not be able to find one that woul fit me.