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December 29, 2020

Elderly Florence E. Dolph, 101 Years Old, Sliding Down the Bannister in Her House, 1948

It seems like you could easily write several books about the Dolph family. But a happy place to get started is with Miss Florence Dolph who attracted worldwide attention for the unique way she celebrated her birthdays.

(Photo by Tony Linck/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The picture above was taken on her 101st birthday, but the article below describes her 100th-birthday slide from the year before. Transcribed from The Wilkes-Barre Record, Tue, May 20, 1947:

Centenarian on Banister Ride

Miss Florence Dolph Hopes to Attend Bucknell Reunion

Miss Florence E. Dolph shed her 364-day-per-year dignity yesterday to slide down the banister at her home in Dunmore on her 100th birthday.

Miss Dolph facetiously referred to the banister as, “My horse, Pete, after a wonderful ride.”

Miss Dolph completed her once-a-year ride decked out in an orchid sent her from California.

Ordinarily, as testified by her niece, Miss Florence E. Robertson, who resides with her, Miss Dolph is a dainty little woman not given to gymnastics. But Miss Dolph, who has a delightful sense of humor, departed from her sedate ways just to prove her point that life can start at 100.

“She’s the life of any party and I’ll be the tired one when we go to bed,” said Miss Robertson, who has been Miss Dolph’s companion since she went to California to be with Miss Dolph 12 years ago, and who returned to Dunmore with her several months ago.

Miss Dolph lived for 44 years in Los Angeles before returning. The family home is now owned by her nephew, Charles S. Robertson.

While no formal celebration was planned, it was a real visiting day at the Dolph home. Scores of well wishers stopped and extended their congratulations.

As to the banister slide, it really isn’t anything new in the centenarian’s life–she’s been doing it for years and years. It’s her favorite way of twitting her friends about how “young” she is.

“Not satisfied with birthdays alone, she ushers in all holidays the same way,” explained her niece.

In addition to well wishes, five birthday cakes, many boxes and bouquets of flowers and more than 100 birthday cards, plus gifts from relatives, flooded her home.

Florence Dolph Celebrates her 101st birthday. “Whoosh! She’s 101!” (May 19, 1948) Des Moines Tribune, (Des Moines, Iowa)

Attired in earrings, a gold necklace and pin, and two diamond rings which combine the pure white diamonds with canary, or yellow, diamonds, Miss Dolph still possesses a keen sense of humor and an intense love for music and art.

With many miles of travel to her credit in this country and abroad, Miss Dolph has at least one more trip on her mind for the immediate future.

“If she is as well then as she is now, Aunt Florence will attend her class reunion at Bucknell University on June 7,” Miss Robertson promised.

Miss Dolph graduated from the Bucknell Female Institute, now the university, in 1868. With one exception, she is the school’s oldest alumnus.”

— “Centenarian on Banister Ride,” (May 20, 1947), Wilkes-Barre Record, (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)

Portrait of elderly Florence E. Dolph, 101 years old. (Photo by Tony Linck/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)


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