Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hazel Blecha - The Last Word

My great-aunt Hazel Blecha was an amazing woman. In 1916, she was denied the right to vote because she was a woman. She made up for this by voting in each of the next twenty-two Presidential elections. (While it is true that you're only young once, she came withing 13 months of being a teenager for the second time.) I'm proud to say that my family has a looooong history of supporting women's athletics: she played varsity basketball at Kansas State University in the class of 1917. I had a great time helping her celebrate her 107th, 108th, 109th, 110th, and 111th birthdays. I figured if you don't attend somebody else's 111th birthday, *they* probably won't attend *your* 111th birthday. (Who knew you could have so much fun in Des Moines, Iowa?)

As a history buff, it boggles my mind to think how much the world changed the space of her lifetime: when she was born, the American flag had only 44 stars, Grover Cleveland was President, Queen Victoria's reign had six years left, Czar Nicholas, Emporer Franz Joseph, and Kaiser Wilhelm was on the thrones of Russia, Austro-Hungary, and Imperial Germany. Albert Einstein hadn't started his clerk job yet (where he came up with his theory of relativity), the Wright brothers were designing bicycles in Dayton, Ohio, and the HMS Dreadnought hadn't even been designed yet. Mao Tse-tung, Emporer Hirohito, and Britain's Queen Mother hadn't yet arrived. (She was there to see them in, and was around to see them out.) Gavrilol Princep was just a few months older than she as. (Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth were born the next year). The fictional Rose of "Titanic" was the same age as Aunt Hazel- she was 17 when that ship sank.

I've never visited my great-aunt's grave- but I think it would've been great if she'd ordered a headstone that read:

Hazel Blecha November 30, 1894 - October 27, 2006. and underneath: "I *TOLD* you I was sick!"

1 comment:

Catherine Bitikofer said...

Hi, I take pictures in Sunset Cemetery for Find A Grave. Now I'm not the first person to have taken a picture of Hazel's stone, but I didn't look very closely at the dates until going through these to connect them with online memorials. Can't be right...can it? So, found your ramblings, and was pleasantly surprised. Thanks for sharing the life of this amazing lady!