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Doing What You Love–For 97 Years

February 20, 2008

This month my hubby and I went to the historic Tampa Theatre.  It looks like an Italian courtyard beneath a star-filled sky.  Built in 1926, it’s one of the few remaining grand old palace theatres in the country that still shows movies.  Inside it looks like an Italian courtyard beneath a star-filled sky.  It even has a balcony, and it’s own resident ghost.  (But that’s a story for another blog.)

What I want to tell folks about today is the silent movie double feature my hubby and I attended recently at the theatre.  They showed two classic Buster Keaton movies, Sherlock Jr. and Cops while a lovely elderly lady named Rosa Rio played live organ accompaniment. 

Now that would be pretty cool on its own, but there’s something very special about Rosa Rio.  You see, Rosa used to play the organ for the original silent movies–in the twenties.  She’s 105 years old. 

She lives in a nearby retirement community and performs maybe two or three times a year at the Tampa Theatre.  When people ask Rosa how old she is, she has always said, “Honey, age is just a number, and mine’s unlisted.” 
But last year when she was playing a similar event, she said, “When I was very little, my parents arranged for me to take piano lessons. One day when I was eight, I jumped up on the piano bench and announced to everyone that I when I grew up, I was going to wear beautiful dresses, play the piano, and make people happy.  Ninety-seven years later, I’m still doing exactly that.”  It happened to be the day before her 105th birthday.
Now Rosa is four months shy of her 106th birthday, and still as vital, talented and charming as ever.  Each time I see her, she reminds me that if you work hard and follow your heart, everything else will fall in place.  I want to be 105 and still doing what I love, you know?
If you want to see what a 105 year old woman looks like, or read more about Rosa or the amazing Tampa Theatre, surf here: http://www.tampatheatre.org/Rosa.php
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. V.E.G. permalink
    May 12, 2008 2:29 pm

    Rosa Rio is like the Edward Leedskalnin of organists. He always said, “It is not difficult, really. The secret is in knowing how.” Edvards Liedskalnins, best known as Edward Leedskalnin took the secret to the grave with him.

  2. May 12, 2008 9:32 pm

    Thanks for stopping by, V.E.G!

    For folks who don’t know, Edward Leedskalnin built the mysterious Coral Castle in southern Florida. He claimed to have “discovered the secrets of the pyramids” to move gigantic blocks of coral weighing several tons, all by himself. Check out the Wikipedia article here for more info. Very fascinating. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_Castle

  3. V.E.G. permalink
    March 5, 2009 2:28 pm

    My family friend’s one-time neighbor Herbert Benton “Ben” Connor is like Rosa Rio in a way. Connor never tells his age to anybody, and remains so until his passing. Connor was only 83 years old. Connor is related to Napoleon Bonaparte through his brother.

  4. V.E.G. permalink
    March 5, 2009 2:29 pm

    By the way, Connor has no immediate family of his own.

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