Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Karen Mitchell
Puebloan to celebrate fourth 25th birthday
By MARGIE WOOD
The Pueblo Chieftain February 28, 2000
Alice Drake doesn't think her leap year birthday has anything to do with her long life, but her son jokes that it has saved a lot of people a lot of money on birthday presents over the years.
To be exact, 104 years.
Mrs. Drake was born on a farm near Stuttgart, Kan., on Feb. 29, 1896. Because Feb. 29 doesn't occur in the "hundred" years unless they're divisible by 400, she didn't get to celebrate her birthday on her birthday until she was 8 years old.
Her parents both were born in Germany, and her speech still has just a tinge of German accent.
She had red hair and the other kids called her "the wasp" when she was young, she told her granddaughter Patsy VonTour. You still can hear just a tinge of an ornery red-head when she talks.
Mrs. Drake and her husband, George, came to Pueblo in 1945 and went to work at the state hospital. They bought a house on West 10th Street, not too far from the hospital, and that house is still home. Lately, she has been staying with her daughter, Irene Martin, at her home west of Pueblo. But when Irene got pneumonia earlier this year, Mrs. Drake came back to her house where her son Carl now lives.
"She likes staying with Irene better," Carl said. "I make her do things she doesn't want to do. I made her walk half a block yesterday."
That long march was in a good cause, though - she was on her way to the Black Swan for fried chicken, her favorite meal when she's out "running around."
She may be running around a little slower and on other people's wheels these days, but it hasn't been long since she was fully mobile.
"She was still hauling 'old folks' to the doctor when she was 85, and they were in their 60s," Carl said.
She's proud of the picture of herself riding her friend Joe Medina's motorcycle when she was well up in her 90s. She gave up driving her car when she was 99.
She took up bowling when she was in her 80s and also enjoyed shooting pool at the SRDA and the Side Pocket league.
In fact, she says "I haven't been" (bowling, driving or shooting pool) as if she might get back to it any day.
Mrs. Drake has enjoyed traveling - to Hawaii and Alaska, especially - and she takes a matter-of-fact attitude to the thought that she's lived in three centuries.
"I'll see how things go," she says about this new century. "I think they can't have a lot more new things, but they always do."
She's quite hard of hearing but she keeps up on the world by reading the newspaper - The Pueblo Chieftain, thank you, "not the Denver Post - I don't live in Denver."
For her 100th birthday, the Broadway and Orman Church of Christ put on a huge party at the State Fairgrounds. This year, the church women will bring a party to her home.
She doesn't have any advice for long life.
"A person just lives or they die. There's nothing anybody can do to live longer," she said. "Let everybody do as they please - I do."
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