Pull up a chair. Louis Fischer has a story to tell.
It was 70-plus years ago. He was working at an elevator company in Toledo. “Started there as a blueprint boy,” said Mr. Fischer, leaning in close, close enough that you can savor the sweet perfume of the velvety red rose pinned to his shirt pocket. “I took some drafting classes over at the university.”
And so it was on a certain day at the former Haughton Elevator Co. that a young lady named Martha was hired. A co-worker hurried to tell Mr. Fischer about the new employee. “He said `I bet you can't get date with her in two weeks' time. I'll bet you a dollar'”
Mr. Fischer was a bit busy trying to rise to the top at the elevator company, and the two weeks passed quickly. “I didn't really remember about the bet. I ended up paying the dollar.”
And then came the invitation to a party. He was asked to bring Martha with him.
“That was the start. We were married for 70 years,” said Mr. Fischer who celebrated his 100th birthday last week.
Mr. Fischer, who was an avid golfer and bowler, is known for his storytelling skills and his passion for a punchline. “He loves to tell jokes,” said Chuck Dendinger, director of admissions for the health-care center at Swan Creek Retirement Village in South Toledo.
As polite as he is precise, Mr. Fischer is a popular resident at the retirement village, where he has lived since 1992. At that time, he and Martha lived there. She died in 2001 at the age of 93.
“She always liked to hear the story about how she cost me a dollar before I even knew her,” he said.
Today, many of his stories and most of his treasured memories are tied with heart strings to his wife. Ask him about his eating habits, and he says he never was hungry much, didn't care for raw vegetables, but boy, was Martha a great cook.
How about hobbies? Besides playing golf, he was a pretty good bowler - carried a 195 average - and he was honored by being named to a bowling hall of fame in Toledo, he said. “I got interested in bowling when I got a job setting up pins at a bowling alley at South and Spencer when I was 15 years old.”
He wasn't much interested in gardening, but Martha was an outdoor enthusiast with a green thumb for growing all sorts of wonderful flowers, and the couple spent years on the road or in the air or on the sea - Caribbean cruises, fall trips to New England, vacations in Hawaii and Mexico. “Martha loved to travel,” he said.
Mr. Fischer spent his early days on a Lake Erie island. “I was born in Put-in-Bay,” he said. The date was June 5, 1903. “I was 3 years old when my dad died. My mother remarried, and we lived at Put-in-Bay until I was 14 years old.” His step-father helped to build Perry's Monument on the island.
After the family moved to Toledo, Mr. Fischer - the oldest of nine children - attended Waite High School for a year, but then he got a job. He eventually landed work at Haughton where he was employed for 40 years, retiring as a mechanical engineer in 1967.
He never went to war. He was too young to serve in World War I and too old for World War II.
He and his wife did not have children, but they were surrounded by youngsters - nieces and nephews - for many years, his sisters and brother recalled during Mr. Fischer's birthday party last week at the retirement village. The room, gaily decorated with balloons, was filled with friends and relatives, including Minnetta Probert, his sister from Hillsdale, Mich.
When the conversation turns back to his birthday, he says he's lived long enough to know how much he misses Martha.
His birthday wish? “I wish my wife was still here.”