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A living history of the West

NEW CASTLE – Sitting on a brown couch, wearing a royal blue sweater, Donna Dodo spells like a bee champion as she recounts experiences that happened more than 90 years ago.”I was born in Bennington, Mich., that’s B-E-N-N-I-N-G-T-O-N,” said Dodo, who named arithmetic as her favorite subject in school. “My dad was a farmer. I had five brothers and sisters, and I was the oldest.”On March 12, Dodo, formerly Donna Drury, turns 100 years old. The thought makes her grin and amazes younger generations aware that she never followed a diet, suffered health problems or trusted in vitamins during her lifetime.”I was a hard worker but I’m pretty idle now,” said Dodo, who calls herself lucky to be celebrating her 100th birthday with close family Saturday. “I came to Colorado in 1929 to be a teacher in Dry Hollow. I guess I had wanderlust in my feet.”Dodo recalls taking the train from Michigan to Colorado, living with R.E. and Sarah Boulton as a young teacher new to the Western Slope, and meeting future husband Ralph.”I met him at a dance in New Castle when they had the place above the drug store,” she said. “Well, he didn’t smoke, for one thing. I just liked him, that’s all.”Not long after their first encounter, Ralph and Donna married in Denver. They later raised two boys, Warren and Louis, on the ranch Ralph and his brothers bought as a family venture.”I was chained to the cookstove. No, not really,” she said. “It just seemed like that’s all I had to do was cook.”Carol Dodo, Donna’s daughter-in-law, said her children relished their home on the range, next door to their grandparents.”The kids were lucky to have both grandparents so close by,” said Carol, who has been married to Louis for nearly 41 years. “The girls always rode with their grandpa (Ralph) from the time they were big enough to ride a horse.”Since the 1930s, Donna has lived on the Dodo Ranch property on West Elk Creek. She is now in the care of Louis and Carol in their home.”I always liked living on the ranch. I loved the scenery and everything about it,” she said. “And I still do.”Donna doesn’t pay much tribute to riding horses, fishing, listening to the radio, or watching television. Her fondest memories involve crocheting and reading her favorite book, “Little Women.””I didn’t have TV for a long time,” she said.The great-grandmother speaks of, and correctly spells, the name of her best friend while growing up in Michigan – Hattie Baldwin – and gushes over her parents.”My mom was a beautiful seamstress. She was very kind and a smallish woman,” she said. “My dad was very handy and studied to be a bookkeeper, but he inherited the farm.”Donna also remembers seeing Teddy Roosevelt on the train in Glenwood Springs and dressing up for the New Castle Reading Club dating back to the early 1900s.”She would wear the hat and the gloves,” Carol said. “She always liked the Hotel Colorado. It’s kind of her favorite place to go.”Appropriately enough, the Hotel Colorado is the family’s unanimous choice for Donna’s 100th birthday party on Mother’s Day, May 8.”The party is in May mainly so all her relatives can come because they don’t like to travel in the cold weather,” Carol said. “I know of at least 25 to 30 people coming from out of state.”In the 1920s, Donna Drury Dodo traveled to Colorado from Michigan. Look how far the journey took her.In the 1920s, Donna Drury Dodo traveled to Colorado from Michigan. Look how far the journey took her.


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