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Published: Wednesday, 2/9/2005

Waterville: Straub, 100, has seen decades of change in Toledo

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

"Glasses are for old people."

That's what Grace Straub says. Although the birthday cards from friends and neighbors and the proclamation on her living room wall from the mayor of Waterville all attest to her centenarian status, you won't catch Mrs. Straub sitting around wearing specs.

Her eyeglass-less eyes have seen decades of change in Toledo.

Mrs. Straub, who turned 100 on Feb. 4, was born in Whitehouse and spent her life in the Toledo area. She grew up in Toledo with one sister and six brothers. Some of her brothers teased her constantly, convincing her to eat dirt so she could play with them.

"I, like a dummy, ate a handful of dirt. I can still taste it," she said, scrunching her face in disgust at the thought.

As a girl, Mrs. Straub worked odd jobs at several local stores, including the Smith-Kirk Candy Company. She was allowed to eat as much candy as she wanted.

She later worked as a clerk at Tiedtke's department store in downtown Toledo, where she met the man who would become her husband, Irving Straub. Mr. Straub was also a clerk, and he would sometimes credit his sales to her so she would get a larger commission.

"It was true love," Mrs. Straub joked.

She defied her parents and married Mr. Straub when she was 18. The couple had two children. Florence Notestine, Mrs. Straub's daughter, said she and her brother grew up in the Depression era when money was tight.

"We begged and begged for bicycles, and our parents finally got the money and bought them Grace Straub, center, enjoys recalling stories of her earelyfor us," Mrs. Notestine said. "I cherished that bike. I loved it and I washed it and my mother would get on it and ride right into something."

Mrs. Straub never learned to ride a bike until she bought them for her children. She often practiced riding around her neighborhood, but the alleys were full of hazards, including piles of ashes left outside from the coal-burning home heating systems.

"My mother would ride smack into every pile of ashes," Mrs. Notestine said.

Mrs. Straub not only raised her own two children, but helped rear several other children as a nanny. Some of the children she cared for still come to visit her at her home in Waterville, where she lives with her daughter and granddaughter, Lee Notestine.

"She has touched so many people's lives by babysitting and just being friendly and caring about other people," her granddaughter said.

Contact Rachel Zinn at:

rzinn@theblade.com

419-410-5055



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