Theodore Roosevelt was US President, the average life expectancy was 47, only 14 percent of U.S. homes had a bathtub, only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone, there were only 8,000 cars with only 144 miles of paved roads, 90 percent of all doctors did not have a college education, sugar cost four cents a pound, most women only washed their hair once a month, and the population of Las Vegas, Nv, was 30. This was the way things were when Alma Kahl was born.
Alma Kahl celebrated her 108 year birthday on Friday at Hillview Retirement center, who has been to a birthday party for someone 108, but some of the residents of Hillview, some of Alma’s family, and friends did just that with Kahl smiling through it all. When meeting Kahl and her friends and family, one will find out that she is one special lady, who is still fun and everyone loves her. During her party, she had a continual line of people wanting to wish her a happy birthday.
Kahl’s mother, Grandma B, was living with her at Hillview when Dottie Harcha moved in beside her. Kahl’s mother lived to seven days away from 100 years old. She sat down and took a nap and never woke up.
Kahl has always been very social and had a lot of friends. She traveled a lot and she had friends that traveled with her as well. Her friend Harcha, told the funny story of when she went to New York with her friend, Sara Ann, and they went to the Twin Towers. It was on a tour, so the bus dropped them off there and the driver said to be back at the bus at 8:00, because he couldn’t wait, “so we took off up as high as we could go. We saw Alma and Sara Ann in the bar, we go on up to the Windows of the World, and there was an escalator and I asked where does it go and he said to the roof. So he and I go up to the roof. We came back down for our pick up and Alma wasn’t there. I heard this voice way up ‘where is everybody?’ I said we’ve got to catch the bus and Alma asked, ‘how do I get down there?’ I said take the escalator and she said that it was going up and I told her to go around to the one going down.”
Harcha also told a funny story of Kahl’s friend Sara Ann, of when Sara Ann lived in one of the cottages at Hillview, Sara Ann backed out into the pond and was not young, but she swam to the pond’s edge, but forgot her purse, so she dove back down and got her purse then swam back to the edge.
“She has been everywhere, her husband was a lawyer and they traveled often,” Harcha added. “They come home one day from France she looked like an owl and I asked her what happened and she said she had fallen on her face.” Then, Shirley McLaughlin, (Kahl’s caretaker for at least the past 25 years) chimed in and said, “I took her to the store and a lady said something to her and she (Alma) said, ‘You should see the other guy’.”
Kahl was Miss West Virginia University, as seen in photo, and she also had high tea with Queen Elizabeth. Kahl graduated from West Virginia University with a teaching degree. She did some substituting for a short while in Kentucky and some of that was at Lucasville.
Her niece, Carol Sue Edwards, Kahl’s brother’s daughter, said when her mother died, Kahl helped raise her. Edwards said Alma was the oldest, then her dad, and then her uncle Howard and they were all raised in West Virginia, and Uncle Howard was shot down in the second WW in 1943 and she was born that same year. Edwards said Kahl keeps saying she is going to live to be 110 years old. She also said that Kahl tried a cigarette one time when she was at West Virginia University, and said humorously, “Why would I pay for that?” Edwards said of her aunt, “She has always had a zest for life.”
Jessica Allen from Hillview said Kahl wanted to be told how much she was loved. “I’ve had a nice life,” Kahl said. “I had two jaunts to Europe and I went all over the place and I had tea with the Queen.” When told she looked amazing for 108, she said, “Well honey, I worked hard at it!” She said of the party that she didn’t know she was coming.
Bonnie Besco who has also been Kahl’s caretaker at Hillview said Kahl has some dementia, but if you bring up something from her past, she will pipe up after thinking about it and say something like, that was 50 years ago, and remember.
Alma Kahl’s birthday was full of interesting things all about her life and the joy she has experienced over the past 108 years.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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