Akron woman becomes centurion

Posted March 22, 2018 at 5:00 am

j LaVada Gale turns 100.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

When asked what she’s going to do for her 100th birthday, the humorous centurion responded, “Stay home and lock the door.”

“Sometimes we’ve gone out,” said LaVada Gale, who will celebrate life’s century mark on Monday, April 2.

“This year her family is taking her to Minerva’s (in Sioux City) for a dinner party,” said her much more serious brother, Arden, who is 85 years young. “We’ve been there previously, and they are pretty consistent in their culinary abilities.”

“Sometimes I didn’t have a birthday,” said LaVada. “You had your birthday but you might not have a party because Mom and Dad were both working.”

Their father, Earl Gale, worked for the Road Department, and if there was an April blizzard, he would be shoveling snow by hand to get Iowa Highway 3 open for traffic. Their mother, Ann, worked as a domestic at the original Akron Hospital.

Birthdays were much more important to their pure Irish grandfather, whose birthday was Christmas Day, said Arden.

“It was a command performance,” explained Arden with a straight face. “Parade and train…”

LaVada receives some of her efferessence from him, added Arden.

“You can’t believe everything that man says; You’ve got to sift through that,” corrected LaVada when this Hometowner editor believed him.

LaVada didn’t have a favorite birthday of her first 99.

The most significant event in her 100 years of life was not a war, the killing of President John F. Kennedy, astronauts achieving space travel or the invention of computer technology.

“It was seeing my two brothers come home from war,” said LaVada, noting her brother, Jack, was in the “Big War,” and served in the South Pacific; and Arden served in the Korean War in Japan.

When Jack was drafted, their mother was thinking of going with him to the Akron cafe where a traveling salesman was to pick up Jack, Harvey Lias and Eugene Bengston.

However, Jack told his mother to stay home because that’s where he wanted to remember her — in their home — not at a restaurant. So LaVada accompanied him.

“When we got down there, the man who was to take him was already there,” she explained. “The three boys got there, men followed with the lady who operated the restaurant. They were hugging the lady who worked in the cafe and getting in the (salesman’s)car.”

On the opposite side of the street, there were several men watching the send-off.

“Where Thorson’s is now,” said Arden.

There were grocery stores, drug stores, a meat market and a ladies’ store on that side of the street, they explained.

Several men — short, plump men wearing their white “duck” aprons — were waving and hollering, “Bye, boys. We’ll be waiting for ya.”

“Oh my word if they live through this,” she thought.

All three came home, she said, and have since passed away.

LaVada attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Akron and then graduated from Akron High School in 1935.

She learned to drive “as early as one could get a license,” and her first car was probably a Model A.

After graduation, LaVada “went to work here, there and some place else.” She first worked for Arkins Grocery, then different grocery stores. Her final position was as a dental assistant for Dr. C.R. Mason. She did the office work and assisted the doctor at the dental chair.

Upon the dentist’s death, which happened while he was attending a meeting out East, the dental office was closed.

And LaVada retired.

“She works, works and works — a meticulous housekeeper, a wonderful housekeeper,” said Arden, adding she’s also a good cook.

“Oh, baloney,” said LaVada.

She still cooks most of the meals with Arden pitching in for a few. Cooking isn’t one of her favorite pastimes though, just a necessity.

No one has a better sister. I owe her a lot, said Arden.

She told The Akron Hometowner she has no hobbies.

Although she claimed to do nothing fun, she added “whatever comes along,” with a twinkle in her eye.

LaVada claimed her “fun” is arguing with Arden.

“She’s an excellent verbalizer,” said Arden and they both laughed.

The siblings have lived in their current home at 551 Dakota St. since the mid-1930s when their parents purchased it.

They’ve never married. LaVada’s beau died in a car accident.

Their faith in God is a prominent feature of their lives. Living near Akron’s St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, they have been active in serving their God and faith community over the years.

Now, the aging process has slowed them down some.

They enjoy spending time watching Mass services on TV, along with Lawrence Welk shows and the Eternal World Network (EWN) channel.

“LaVada says all that’s good on TV is the dust,” said Arden. “There isn’t much television programming geared toward the “old age pensioners like us…we’re not the consumers.”

LaVada enjoys her time spent being pampered at The Lock Shop, too.

As LaVada’s centurion milestone is just days away, Arden would like to have the “parade and train” to honor his sister but LaVada reminded us both, she just might not make it to that day.

“If everybody’s family is as gracious as ours, America is quite a country,” said Arden, giving her high praise despite her protesting a big birthday celebration.

Happy Birthday

LaVada!

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