The week on Senior Voices, we meet 93 year-old Eleanor Kohlmann. Born Eleanor Dell in 1926 over in Yellow Springs, her family moved to Belmont when she was just a small child. Eleanor shared her memories with Dayton Metro Library interviewer, Brandon Ulman.
Brandon Ulman (BU): What’s your best memory from childhood?
Eleanor Kohlmann (EK): Playing. Playing outside. Running. We had a stream under the edge of our house in Belmont, and we caught skippers and crawdads, and my dad planted celery along there. Lots of fun. When they tarred the street, we chewed on the tar that was along the street, which was our chewing gum. The ice came every week, put ice in our ice box.
BU: Do you have any favorite stories from your childhood?
EK: Yes, when I was in, I went to school the first four grades at Pasadena in Beavertown, which is Dorothy Lane now, but in the second grade, I had a writing paper that went to the Montgomery County Fair and I got second prize, and when I took 75 cents home, my mother thought I stole it ‘cause I never had any money. But that was my prize.
BU: What did you do for fun as a kid?
EK: Oh, we ran, climbed trees, kicked the can. No television, you know. It just was always outside, throwing baseballs, whatever.
BU: Can you tell me more about school, what it was like?
EK: I rode the bus to Pasadena, and we lived on Cortland Avenue which was dead end two houses from us. All fields where Delco and all that is now, you know it was all field, so rode the bus, second grade I was most popular and the most quiet, and they don’t go together as far as I’m concerned, but that’s the way it was written up, and so one winter I think I was in the third of fourth grade, one of the boys on the playground stuck his finger, his tongue on the railing where we came out the door, and it stuck in the ice, and he had lots of problems, and can’t forget that.
BU: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your life?
EK: I think every day is a lesson, ‘cause I think every day is different, presents problems but not big ones, you solve it as you go, and it doesn’t build up. I really haven’t had any bad days. I’m happy with my life.
BU: How would you like to be remembered?
EK: Well, never thought of it. A good mom, a good worker, a good gardener, probably in that order.
BU: Are there any words of wisdom you’d have to pass along to the people out there?
EK: Do the best you can do every day, and make the best of every situation. Think it through and do the best for you. And I think if we did that we’d have a better life for everybody. And think we could use some of that now in the world.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer and Senior Voices project coordinator Jocelyn Robinson. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation.