At 102, She Still Has the Chops
It's tough to imagine a more delightful morning than the one I spent with 102-year-old Dorothy Olson Pauletti. Dorothy had spent her career playing piano and singing in Chicago nightclubs and restaurants. In her room at a suburban retirement community, she showed me albums full of old publicity photos and posters. She told stories about the Palmer House and Drake Hotel. She talked about her first gig at age 9, playing piano in the window of a Bloomington, Illinois department store, to help them sell pianos.
And then Dorothy Olson Pauletti showed me she still had the chops. With all the wit and talent that once delighted her audiences, she performed several songs for this charmed reporter.
Update: Dorothy Olson Pauletti died in April of 2020, about a year after we met. A scholarship has been established in Dorothy's memory by her family and the Chicago Federation of Musicians.