Dorothy Spadafore turns 101Published 7:52pm Sunday, April 1, 2012
Climbing 20 steep steps to her downtown apartment kept Dorothy Spadafore spry — even after she quit doing it with roller skates strapped to
her feet. Rolling skating is what she loved to do as a girl living above her folks’ store and playing in the vacant lot adjacent to the Elks Temple — now Wounded Minnow’s patio.
Mrs. Spadafore celebrated her 101st birthday Sunday afternoon at Rotary Villa.
“I get around. I can’t complain,” she said, surrounded by well-wishers and wearing a Birthday Girl badge.
Born in Three Rivers, she moved to Dowagiac in 1912.
Someone suggests “Italian wine” as the secret to her longevity, but she insists, “I don’t drink it.”
In between 1934 and 1952, Dorothy and her husband left Dowagiac for Paw Paw, where they operated a candy store known as The Sweet Shop.
Joe was well-known in Dowagiac for driving school buses. Born in Italy, he immigrated to Howell with his parents in 1913. He passed away at 95 on March 13, 2005.
Joe wed Dorothy Belsito on Jan. 2, 1932, so they were married for 73 years.
In 1955, they shipped a car to Italy and spent three months touring.
“Don’t take your car,” she admonished. “You can rent one cheaper, but we didn’t know that at the time. My earliest memory of Dowagiac is sliding down the sand in that vacant lot. Then I can remember a fire in Dowagiac in 1920. Half that block, up to where the (Olympia) book store is, burned.”
Her cousins’ Caruso’s was founded Sept. 22, 1922. Mrs. Spadafore worked there in the 1920s and ’30s. Fire damaged that landmark Dowagiac business on Nov. 23, 2002; it reopened in January 2003.
Mrs. Spadafore’s parents owned a soda shop, which her sister, Lena, carried on.
They handled a lot of fruit, with trucks delivering bananas and grapes packed in barrels of sawdust.