Longtime Twinsburg resident celebrates 100th birthday
TWINSBURG – Many things have changed in a century. Ask Martha Tappe, she would know.
Tappe will celebrate her 100th birthday on Feb. 22. When she was born, Warren G. Harding was in his first year as president, and the United States was starting the decade that would be called The Jazz Age. Many changes have occurred since; Tappe said she remembers when people didn’t have indoor plumbing and had to use outhouses, sandwiches were wrapped in newspapers and coal oil lamps were used for light before electric lights became commonplace.
“I took a commercial course at John Hay [High School in Cleveland,]” Tappe said, adding that she graduated from John Hay.
The biggest life-changing event, said Tappe , was World War II.
“World War II changed the world entirely,” she said. “Women had stayed home. For the first time, housewives went to work, and life was never the same. It changed the world so much. People who were very poor began to have money.”
Tappe added that she did not enter the workforce at that point. Her husband was in the Army and serving during the war in the United States.
“I had two boys, 6 and 2, when he was drafted,” Tappe said. “For my family, I tried real hard to do the best I could for my boys and my husband. I wrote to my husband every day.”
Tappe said she first met her husband “at a party across the street from where I lived, when I was just 13 and he was 17.”
“I couldn’t go out with him,” she said. “I was too young to date anybody. So, I told him to come back in five years, and he did. He came back for me.”
When her husband died in 1958, Tappe said she went to work. She worked for 25 years. at Fisher Foods Corp. as an administrative assistant. She retired from Fisher Foods, but did not stay retired for long.
“I didn’t like retirement,” Tappe said. “So I was looking for a job that was close to home and with no responsibility.”
Carolyn Tromski, Tappe ’s daughter-in-law, said that her mother-in-law moved to Summit County in 1970 and moved to Twinsburg about 20 years ago.
In 1980, Tappe was hired part-time at the Northern Summit County Multi-Service Center in Northfield as a receptionist. Soon after she started, however, her supervisor approached her about doing referral work with the seniors. Tappe took courses at The University of Akron to help with her new position as the coordinator of outreach and referral services for seniors. She added that when she had graduated from high school, she had only known of one person who went to college.
“Part of her job description included finding rides to important appointments, seeking out special services for particular needs, and helping seniors find financial assistance,” said Tromski. “During this time, Martha founded and ran the weekly ‘Out to Lunch Bunch,’ which Is still in existence today. She coordinated weekly entertainment for this group, and organized holiday parties and other important activities. She also organized many enjoyable trips for seniors.”
Tappe retired from that position in 1996, “at the ripe young age of 75,” Tromski said. She “still lives independently, doing much of her own cooking.”
“I love to cook,” said Tappe . “I’ve always loved to cook. It’s getting difficult because of my eyesight, but I still manage to put some good meals together.” She added that she especially likes making chicken dishes and Matzo Ball soup.
There have been other members of her family who have lived long lives, Tappe said, when asked about the secret of her longevity.
“My grandfather lived to be 92, my grandmother was in her 80s,” she said. “In that time, that was old.”
Her wish as she celebrates her centennial year?
“I wan to be able to take care of myself, so I’m not dependent on my family, my children,” Tappe said. “I do have an aide who comes in and helps me now, and she’s indispensable. I’m just grateful to the Lord that He has blessed me with this kind of health, and my wonderful family.”
Tromski described Tappe as having a “very upbeat, energetic spirit.”
“Martha’s activities are limited today, but she continues to be a vibrant part of her family celebrations,” Tromski said.
Tappe ’s two sons, Donald and Robert Tromski, both live in Twinsburg. Tappe also has three granddaughters and a great-granddaughter.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org