For Violet Albright, Labor Day had a double significance this year. The U.S. holiday also was Albright's 100th birthday. She celebrated by sitting on the porch of her West Davis Street home to greet neighbors and other visitors Monday afternoon.
"That is the best neighborhood in town," Albright said. "My daughter-in-law said she invited the neighbors over. They are wonderful."
Although Albright's great-granddaughter now owns the home, Violet lived much of her life there until 2011. That year, she broke her hip in a fall. After rehabilitation at St. Francis Home, she (and her beloved cat) became residents at Elmwood at the Shawhan. Albright uses a walker, but she remains active and alert. Her former neighbors, Richard and Martha Gase, visit once a week.
Maria Browne of Elmwood at the Shawhan has grown very fond of Albright.
"She truly is one of the greatest women I have ever met I my life," Browne said. "Her sense of humor is outstanding. She has a mind like an elephant. She is beautiful inside and out."
Widowed twice, Albright is the oldest surviving member of the family. She has one living son, Bill Stoner, and John Stoner, deceased. Two daughters-in-law, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren complete the family. Albright said she has lived in Tiffin all her life, and she remembers attending Minerva Street School.
"My dad died when I was 5. Then my mother had to work. At that time, there was no help ... There was no welfare then," Albright said. "We lived on Fourth Avenue, and she, at 6:30 in the morning, walked up to the railroad bridge, and walked on the tracks across that bridge to work at the washboard factory ... At 4:30 p.m., she had to walk back."
To support her children, Violet's mother worked multiple jobs at the glass house, the "pottery" (American Standard) and at the old Shawhan Hotel, as a waitress.
"A lot of these places would close over the summer, and she had to get a job," Albright said.
Her mother's second husband worked in the cutting shop at the glass factory. In her apartment, Violet has a lamp with a clear, cut-glass base. She said it was made to be a vase, but her stepfather had it converted into a lamp. She also pointed out a bench with an ornate metal frame that had belonged to her mother.
Having come from a hard-working household, Violet found her own employment niche as a seamstress. She had learned sewing in her school home economics class and made most of her own clothing. Then someone suggested she apply for a job that used her skills.
"I worked at a decorating store in town that's closed now. Then I made drapes for Lee's, and I made drapes for people. I made a lot of the dresses for the (Columbian) cheerleaders," Albright said. "Merle made me a table for me to lay out the drapery stuff. It's about 100 inches long and 48 inches wide."
Because Merle was a police captain, he rarely could take time off for vacations, but Albright and her second husband were able to do some traveling to California and Canada. Now, she must stay close to home and receive visits from her family at Elmwood. For her birthday, she had one request.
"This is all she wanted to do - come home and sit on the porch," Bill Stoner said.
"I'm the only one left of my whole family," Albright said. "It gets lonesome."