It's 5:19 a.m. and Alma Dannenfeldt — razor sharp and more independent than a third-party presidential candidate — is holding court at Moline's Two Rivers YMCA.|
She's 24 hours shy of her 95th birthday, which she will spend talking with a daughter in Australia (a dinner with friends will be a day later). Reluctantly, Dannenfeldt breaks from her thrice-weekly, one-hour swimming workout, to talk.
"I swim when I get here and that all depends on when I wake up,'' said Dannenfeldt, a first-class bridge player, mother of three, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of 14. "I don't use any of those silly alarm clocks, but I'm here around 5, always way before 6 (a.m.). I've never bothered with an alarm clock.''
A Davenport native who lives at The Lighthouse at Silvis senior residence, Dannenfeldt is a ball of fire. She spent her youth in the Quad-Cities, lived in Arizona for many years and returned home in the 1980s.
She recalled paying $1,800 for her first house and at one stage of her career, her $15 take-home pay matched that of her husband.
"I live here -- with all the seasons -- and I have children who live in places where it's warm all the time,'' Dannenfeldt said with a chuckle. "You tell me what that is about? Isn't it supposed to be the other way, me where it's warm and my kids where it's cold? Truth is, I'm fine. I love it here. It's home.''
Dannenfeldt is the life of the morning YMCA party, although it's all business when it comes to fitness. Happy hour happens only after she is done with her work in the pool.
"She entertains us,'' said Pam Chapman. She and friend Susan Archer, might be Dannenfeldt's biggest fans. "I hope if I am alive at 95, I have half of Alma's energy and a portion of her personality. She's amazing.''
A Rock Island Arsenal retiree, Dannenfeldt threw her arms to the sky and laughed -- school girl-like -- when asked about free time. She said her off hours are spent playing cards and trivia games. She is as social as time will allow and is known across the area for her bridge-playing prowess.
"I also play poker and pinochle,'' she said. "Bridge is a game I love and something that really keeps my mind sharp. I use it and trivia as ways to keep me fresh. As for poker, I was doing well awhile ago, but now I'm in the middle of a losing streak. I sure could use some help.''
When asked if she has any limits, Dannenfeldt scoffed and then smiled a wide smile.
"Age is a number, that's it,'' she said. "I go as far as my (Chrysler) PT Cruiser takes me. There's nothing I cannot do. I go and do, know my way around my computer and feel great. I'm lucky, but I think attitude has a lot to do with it.''
And few have a better attitude and brighter approach than Alma Dannenfeldt.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.