By Jared L. Olar
June 2008-May 2011
In Memory Of
Dolores Frances Olar
Dolores Frances Olar
Born 15 August 1936
Died 10 November 2007
Funeral on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at Preston-Schilling Funeral Home, Dixon, Illinois
Galen Morrison, pastor, United Church of God, Beloit, Wisconsin
Honorary Pallbearers: Ethan Olar, Jason Olar, Jared Olar, Derek Olar, Caleb Olar, and Dennis Lafferty
Interment of ashes at Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center, Illinois
Psalm 22 (23)
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Published in The (Dixon, Ill.) Telegraph, Wednesday, 14 Nov. 2007
DIXON -- Dolores Frances Olar, 71, of Dixon, died Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007, at KSB Hospital. She was a retired registered nurse and owned and operated Olar's Sewing Service in Pekin and Dixon until 2006.
Survivors include her husband; five sons, Ethan Olar and Jason Olar, both of Dixon, and Jared (Christina) Olar, Derek (Kim) Olar and Caleb Olar, [all of central Illinois]; and seven grandchildren.
Memorial service is at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Preston-Schilling Funeral Home, Dixon, with Galen Morrison, pastor of United Church of God, Beloit, Wis., officiating. Burial of cremains is at Woodside Cemetery, Lee Center. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.
A memorial has been established. Condolences may be sent at www.prestonschillingfuneralhome.com.
Dixon woman's talent for sewing 'a gift from God'
Published in The (Dixon, Ill.) Telegraph, Wednesday, 14 Nov. 2007
BY TARA BECKER SVN REPORTER
Although she was a jack of many trades, many remember Dolores Olar as a talented, self-taught seamstress for local residents.
Olar owned and operated Olar's Sewing Service on U.S. Route 30 in Dixon until 2006.
"She was very talented," said her son, Ethan Olar, of Dixon. "I always tell people that her talent for sewing is a gift from God. She figured out how to do things that a lot of other tailors wouldn't think to do."
Dolores Olar, of Dixon, died Saturday at KSB Hospital; she was 71. The daughter of Sherman and Frances (Miller) Shaw, she was born in Amboy and grew up on her parents' dairy farm. Olar, whom her son says was a "typical country girl," was active in 4-H, showing cattle and winning awards at state fairs. She attended Dixon High School and graduated in 1954.
"She was an extremely impressive lady and impressed everyone she met," Ethan Olar said. "She had a huge heart and helped anyone in need."
In 1957, Dolores graduated from Swedish-American Hospital in Rockford and became a registered nurse, although her nursing career was short-lived.
"I think she realized that this wasn't what she was meant to be," he said.
She married Joseph Olar, whom she met in Chicago through the former Radio Church of God, in 1962, in Lombard. They had five sons: Ethan and Jason, both of Dixon, Jared, Derek and Caleb, [all of central Illinois], and seven grandchildren.
The family moved to Pekin around 1970, where Olar opened a sewing shop in the front room of her home. She also had a contract with bigger stores in Pekin, including Christian Brothers Western Store.
"She liked to do men's clothing -- her forte," Ethan said.
After Dolores' mother died in 1993, the family moved to Dixon, where she continued her sewing business, gaining many loyal customers over the years.
"She wanted to move back home because she loved Dixon and the people," Jared Olar said. "Her family has been in Lee County since the 1840s."
One of his mother's proudest achievements was her work with the Noteables Swing Choir at Pekin High School, where she sewed costumes for the choir in the 1980s, he said. Working with the choir director, she wanted to design a new look for the choir and created sequined vests and skirts, which impressed other show choirs in the state and around the country.
"The next year, a lot of other groups showed up in sequins," Olar said. "It was something brand new that she pioneered."
Olar also enjoyed singing, favoring barbershop, choir and religious music, Jared Olar said.
Her faith also was a prominent part of her life. "She tried to pass on her good morals and values onto the kids," he said. "If anyone got up before 7 a.m. any day of the week, we'd see her in her chair, praying."
Saturday night, 28 Nov. 1998
I was born 15 Aug. 1936 in Amboy, Ill., to Sherman Linn Shaw and Frances Mae Miller Shaw. We lived my early years in Lee Center, Ill.; moved around many times, in many houses, because my father was a farmer. He farmed the Shaw place in Lee Center for a period of time. Then we moved to the Cortwright place in Dixon, Ill. – Wilbur and Mary Cortwright’s place. I was about 3 years old and I had an appendicitis attack. I had my appendix removed on Easter Sunday morning by Dr. John Sullivan. After that we moved to Dixon, I believe, where dad worked a farm at the State School, it was known then – and it’s now known as the prison. During the War Years he worked on the farm as well.
I went to first grade at the Red Brick School house, I went to second grade at the White Temple School house, and third grade at Eldena School house, with Mrs. Ruth Floto my teacher all three years – the schools being closed one after the other after I was there! I went to fourth grade at South Central School in Dixon for a short period of time. Then we moved back to Lee Center, and moved into the house that my grandparents Sherman Shaw and Grace Bender Shaw lived in up to the time of their deaths. They remodeled the house there, and I spent the last part of fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, and seventh grade in Lee Center. Then I had the surgery on the tumor in my leg that they finally found at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago (it’s now Rush Presbyterian – St. Luke’s, all combined).
Dr. Fred Hart performed the surgery, and found that the tumor was not orthopedic in nature but neurological, and they called in a Dr. Gustafson, who did the surgery the second time to try and remove the tumor – found they could not, cleaned it up, and did the best I could. I wore a brace for quite a few years. I was told I couldn’t rollerskate, and I proved them wrong. However, I did have a bad injury with skating that put an end to that – in later years, when I went out to the White Pines Roller Rink and sprained my ankle the worst I’ve ever sprained, while I was in Nurse’s Training. And so I decided that they probably knew what they were talking about that I shouldn’t be on rollerskates. But I learned to compensate for my handicap – I proved them wrong.
After living there in Lee Center until I was 10 years old, in April of 1949 we moved to a farm that my folks purchased north of Grand Detour, north of the Babson Arabian Horse Farms, and that is where I spent my last of seventh grade and eighth grade – at Oregon Grade School. And then high school, I went to Dixon High School because my mother worked at the Pontiac garage right across from the high school. And since I lived in a non-high district, they paid my tuition. So I didn’t get to go to school and graduate with my classmates from Oregon, which was kind of tough. So I went to quite a few different grade schools. High school was the only one I spent the four years, and I was very grateful.
The years when I was on the farm there above Grand Detour were some of the best memories I had. I was in 4-H and showed cattle. We had registered Ayrshire dairy cattle, and my dad like the red and white cows. He used to tell me a poem when I was little by Robert Louis Stevenson. All I can remember are a couple phrases: “Oh friendly cow, all red and white, I love with all my might, gives me cream to take with apple tarts,” I think. I can’t remember just how it goes. I’m sure you could find it in some book of poetry.
by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
Published in A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods (1906)
The friendly cow all red and white, I love with all my heart: She gives me cream with all her might, To eat with apple-tart. She wanders lowing here and there, And yet she cannot stray, All in the pleasant open air, The pleasant light of day; And blow by all the winds that pass And wet with all the showers, She walks among the meadow grass And eats the meadow flowers.
My mother, who was not really interested in livestock as much my dad and I were, wanted to have some sheep. They went up to Friendship, Wisconsin, and bought seven head of Caracal sheep, which is the Persian lamb coat sheep, the black curly hair – they kill the little baby lambs while they’re still a few days old to make those beautiful coats. But the mature animals have long hair and they have wool that had to be sent to Pendleton, Oregon, to be woven into material. We had some auto robes made, some plaid ones, and we had some material (that might still be in the cedar chest) to make a coat or a jacket from. Anyway these animals were housed in the same yard where the chicken house was. We had a gate we had to go through to go collect the eggs. The buck of this group of animals was a mean buck, and he would chase me. I went to the henhouse to get a couple of eggs, and I had one in each hand. I was walking towards the gate, and all of a sudden he comes to greet me at my rear! Dad says, “Dolly, watch out! There comes that buck!” And I do not jump – I cannot jump – but I high-jumped the fence. And my dad said as I landed – on both feet, and I didn’t break the eggs, they were still in my hands! – he said, “I want to see you open that gate that fast again!” Never could, never did!
We also had a big red rooster, and he was as mean as the buck was – and you know they were the best of friends? That old red rooster would ride on the back of that buck around that yard. They would gang up on me! If it wasn’t the buck chasing you when you went to get the eggs it was the rooster chasing you, so we had quite a time with the two of them. They finally killed him and put him in the stewpot, but he lived a good long time.
Then Grandpa and Grandma Miller moved to town, and they gave us two Muscovy hens and a drake, and two Mallard hens and a drake, because Grandma always used to raise duck, and my favorite at Thanksgiving time was always the Mallard duck, because it was all dark meat. I don’t know why I like white meat the best, but I liked that duck, and I guess it was a tradition along with the turkey. My dad always liked the oyster dressing, and I thought, “Oooh yuck!” But anyway, she would make two kinds of dressing so that I could have the good stuff and dad could eat that . . . oysters?! Yuck! She used to make oyster soup for him too, and I could never understand why. Anyway when we got up there, we were having a dry season, and the little fox came up and they took off the Mallards because they were small and they could carry them away, but the big Muscovies – they’re the size of the Pekin ducks, they’re big white ones – were too heavy, and so they couldn’t catch them. You know, they were bigger than the fox. So these two hens had laid all of these eggs. We went out over there and counted them, and there were 31 in one nest and 30 in the other. There were so many eggs that the hens couldn’t sit on them all – they would rotate them underneath them with their bills. My mother was sure that those eggs were going to be rotten. There were just too many. She would mention that to Grandpa, and Grandpa would say, “No, no, Peg!” (He always called her “Peg” instead of by her name, which was Frances, because of his sister’s name being Margaret, and her nickname was Peg.) “If they’re rotten, the hens will come off the nests by themselves. Just leave ‘em be.” “Well I don’t think we’re going to have any ducks.” “Yes, just leave ‘em be.” Sure enough they hatched out. We had 60 ducks running around there, all little yellow balls of fur! You couldn’t step without watching where you were going.
So, at the time, when we were in high school, we had a pinochle group that my parents were involved with, with Harlan and Dorothy Fraza (?), the Rutts (Wes and Ruth Rutt), Harriet and Kelly Wesner (?), John and Elaine Kramer, Bruce and Ellen Wojtas (?) – and all these people, if we weren’t playing cards at some time, we would go square dancing. Well these people would get together, “Well, Frances, we’ll get together and help you. We’ll have a duck-plucking party. We’ll get them all ready for the freezer.” Well, what these city folks didn’t know is the difference between plucking chickens and plucking ducks is quite a procedure. The pin feathers on the ducks don’t come out when you scald them. When you scald the chickens, the feathers just, you can just peel them right off, and they’re gone, and you’re done, and you singe them and you’re ready to go. But you have to pluck out the feathers on the ducks one by one. That’s why they could use them for pens, for quills, because they're very sturdy. So they didn’t get as many ducks plucked as they thought they were going to get. But we had a lot of duck to eat, and it was good. We do have somewhere pictures of these little ducklings in various trails going across the barnyard. It was about the time we lived on the Harrington place, after we moved from Grand Detour and while I was in nurse’s training. But that was an interesting part of our history.
By the time I graduated from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, other than I wanted to be on the farm. I thought I wanted a dairy farm. But money was tight and I couldn’t afford college, and so I ended up in nurse’s training – which I knew I didn’t want to do, but there I was: three years in nurse’s training. I tried many times to figure out something else I could do or be and didn’t know really what. Couldn’t join the service because of my leg – I would never have been able to pass a physical, because I couldn’t march. So joining the Navy or the Marines or the Air Corps as a nurse, that was all out. I lamented it to my dad one time as we were up there, and he said to me one of the most important pieces of advice that I can ever remember having or being given. He told me, “I don’t understand what it is that you want, but,” he said, “I know you don’t like it, being in nurse’s training. I know that you probably want to do something else. But you started this.” He said, “You should finish it.” And I looked at him, and I respected my dad’s opinion very much, and I decided, you know, he was right. So I finished it. Because he told me he didn’t care whether I nursed a day after I graduated or not, “but please finish it.” So I did. And I’ve got that certificate to this day, and I worked for three years after I graduated, and then moved into the Chicago area, where I met my husband, and thankfully was able then to move into the new area, which is the sewing, which I dearly love to do -- and which I found out years later that my great aunt, that’s all she ever wanted to do and could have taught me, but we didn’t know because of family squabbles that happened. That was Aunt Irene, Aunt Irene Allen. Because of the difficulties, none of us know to this day what it was between Grandpa Young and my grandmother Bessie, that they didn’t speak to each other to the day he died. So I didn’t have the opportunity to know the other great aunts. I wish I could have. Esther, and Irene, and Clark who died very young – brothers and sisters. So that part of the family is kind of a little bit obscure. I don’t know, like I said, what really happened, but some day we will – but not now. I think that’s about all I can remember.
[When Dolores was a baby, her Grandpa Shaw dropped her on her head] All I know is there were flagstone steps coming out of the house, and he dropped me on my head, and I have a little mark in the center of my scalp, that if I want to part my hair down the center, you find that thing and it’s perfect. But I don’t remember any other details, because Grandpa and Grandma died in ’41 and ’42, within six months of each other, and I was just a little girl. I don’t remember how old I was, but it was one of my first memories.
One of the other first memories I have is riding on a big old draft horse – his name was Silvermane – at the Shaw farm. But I don’t remember anything. Dad had a pony named Pam, but I never got a chance to ride him, because he was too old by the time they got him, and he didn’t live very long after they got him. I don’t remember the details. I do remember Grandma Shaw having a collection of salt-and-pepper shakers that we were not allowed to play with. She had them on glass shelves in the window as you come into the living room. Because she was a diabetic, she ate a lot of cottage cheese, and back then they had real pretty colored cardboard containers that they put it in. She would save all those things and let the grandchildren play with those, but you stayed away from the salt-and-pepper shakers, which was more fun. But we played with the cottage cheese containers. That’s about all I remember of Grandpa and Grandma Shaw, I’m sad to say. I was too young to remember them.
Grandpa and Grandma Miller lived until 1962 – Grandma Miller died – and Grandpa died in 1964, just after Ethan was a year old.
August of 1936 was the hottest temperature records ever recorded in history. Years later I asked my mother how in the world she could ever get through having a baby in the heat of August – because I had a baby in August. I said, “There was no air conditioning. How did you do that?” She said, “Ice cubes and a fan, and your grandmother was sure that you were going to be an ice cube.” And to this day I like to chew on ice cubes.
[Dolores and her dad loved to sing and harmonize together.] We used to harmonize together, and he was a bass. He liked to harmonize, and so do I, but because I wanted to harmonize he always had to sing the melody, so I could harmonize with him. We sang a lot of different numbers back then when we’d drive in the car. Car radios weren’t the best quality that they have today, so we didn’t have to worry about a radio, because mother would just holler out a tune name, and he’d start singing and I’d start harmonizing. You know, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Put on your old grey bonnet with the blue ribbon on it while I hitch old Dobbin to the sheigh.” Now you’ve gotten me singing melody. Those were back at the turn at the century ones. He liked barbershop harmony. He would practice some of his numbers. Just different ones that were popular at the time. Right now I can’t even think of any that we did, but there were just a lot of them. There was a “Community Sings” book. If you ever get a chance, get a hold of one in a library. They have “Camptown Races,” “Oh Susanna,” those type of numbers – “Dixie.” I’m drawing a blank.
We had a piano. Mother would play the piano. She didn’t have a very nice singing voice, but she would play the piano, and I and dad would sing together. “Mairzydoats and doazydoats and little lamzydivy. A kiddlydivy doo, woodenjoo.” “Ragtime Cowboy Joe.” “Hifalutin, high shootin’ ragtime Cowboy Joe.” I don’t remember all of it, because he knew them, and I would just pop in there and start harmonizing with him. But I don’t remember all of it. But I remember, “You got a horse, you got a great horse . . . .” I don’t remember all of those – it might be in that box in there. We might have some in there. It might be there. And then there was one, “He made the night a little brighter wherever he would go. The old lamplighter of long, long ago.” He’d go around and light the lights in the park. And there there’s a part in the verse, if he’d see lovers in the park, “he’d pass a lamp and leave it dark.” It was pretty, but we could sing that. Another one was, “Beautiful Ohio.” You probably have heard that one. “Drifting with the current down a moonlit stream.” I can’t remember all these things. You probably have heard it. “Beautiful Ohio . . . visions of what used to be.” Those type of songs you could sing a counter-melody to. One would do, “Drifting with the moonlight down the moonlit stream,” and then somebody would start in, “Beautiful Ohio.” And it was counter, and it would be harmony, but singing a different thing. I mean this is what I miss. Another one is, “Whispering Hope.” You’ve probably heard that one. And of course we did all of the carols, and they were pretty – they were pretty, if sung at the proper season . . . if we’re allowed to do that anymore. I can’t remember any of the other ones right now, but there’s, “Where Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” “Turaluralura,” “Galway Bay,” and “Danny Boy.” There was music from “A Chocolate Soldier,” which was a thing, and from “Oklahoma.” “Zippadedoodah, zippadee-ay, my oh my what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine coming my way. Zippadedoodah, ziipadee-ay. Mr. Moonbeam on my shoulder, it’s the truth, it’s actual, everything is satisfactual.”
[Dolores had six siblings who were miscarried or stillborn.] I always wanted a brother or sister, since I was the firstborn, but it wasn’t meant to be. Later on in life, I learned that my mother lost six pregnancies, and two of them were little boys. But she never talked about it, so I didn’t know what had happened. Except she did say, while she was working at the City National Bank, one of her coworkers had to go in and have some surgery done, in order to hold a pregnancy, because she had torn so badly when the first one was born. When the reconstruction was done, she was able to carry to term. And mother thinks that that may have been what happened to her, and the doctor thought so too. She did tell me that. But she never told me about losing any of the babies. I remember some of the times when it happened. But my Aunt Eleanor was the one that told me that two of the babies were boys. So I would have had a brother, and we would have had a Sherman Linn Shaw, but not this time. We also were told that the RH factor may have contributed to the problem that they had, but both of them were RH+. Dad was an O+ which was a universal donor, and she was AB+, and lo and behold their daughter came up A-. So I shouldn’t have been able to have successful pregnancies with five children with a B+ husband, but we did, and no problems. I think the Rhesus monkey got blamed for a lot of stuff he didn’t have anything to do with.
[Dolores appreciated that her parents got her involved in 4-H because as an only child, she didn’t have a lot of social contact with kids her own age, and kind of felt a little bit like an outcast. As an out-of-towner going to school in town, you didn’t really date the boys in town, so she kind of felt a little bit like she didn’t belong, a bit like a “geek.”]
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
In 1949 we moved up north of Grand Detour on the farm, and it snowed and I didn't have to go to school. The snow was up to hips. Seventh grade. But April -- can you imagine that? Snow in April! [They had moved in the middle of the school year], in the spring; farmers always moved around the first of March or the first of April. Up north of the Babson Horse Farms -- where I spent my last years in grade school going to Oregon. The neighbors took us for a ride (?), and then I went to high school at Dixon High School for four years. After that I went into nursing training -- three up at Swedish American in Rockford. They didn't have these programs that when you could get your degree and stuff, you had to go on actually and get your degree after your training program. I remember that snow. I think that's the last time I ever enjoyed snow -- because I didn't have to go to school. After that snow was always a chore.
Oregon school: Now it's the Nash Recreation Center. Yeah, it's no longer even a school. Miss Thomas was the principal, and Miss Bloomquist (?), the lady who was -- the only sewing class I ever had; and I frustrated her because I was so left-handed. I'd pin things backwards and she'd stick herself, and she'd correct what I'd done, and I'd have to go back and I'd stick myself. It was "Backwards Marie." But she's the only one that taught me anything about sewing, other than my grandmother -- you know, I watched my mother do a lot of sewing, but I mean, they never sat down and taught me, "This is how you use the machine," or, "This is how you use a pattern."
That was my mom's mom, because dad's mom died when I was just about 6 years old -- she died in 1942. All I remember about her is that she ate a lot of cottage cheese, and back then they had very pretty containers that they put on. We were allowed to play with those containers. She kept them in a special room, and then when we came all the cousins could come and play with those pretty cottage cheese containers -- because she didn't want us to play with the salt and pepper shakers that she had arranged on the glass shelves in her window. We weren't allowed to touch them. We could look-a but no touch! I don't remember too much about her, but I knew she was a music teacher. She taught people music and she played piano. I don't remember ever hearing her play the piano, but I know that she did that. The other thing I remember, on the farm that we lived in that had been the Shaw farm, and it's burned down in Lee Center, that big old house; and I do have a picture of my dad putting me up on top of that big draft horse called Silvermane -- little bitty girl up on this huge horse. He was a big sorrel draft horse with a silver mane.
And after that, then we moved up here to -- I think it was Dixon for a while -- then we went out to the Cortrights. Or maybe we went to the Cortrights first, because that's where I was when I had my appendix out. I was two years old. I think was a three. I remember grabbing my tummy and said, "Mommy, my tummy hurts!" and I rolled down the stairs. They took me to Dr. Sullivan, and he was in Amboy, but he was Catholic so he was in Mass, so they took him out to the hospital -- took my appendix out that morning. I don't remember going to the hospital, but I remember grabbing my tummy and going down the stairs. And I also remember going to first grade with Mrs. Floto and falling on the ice, and that's why I'm so afraid of ice -- because I fell and I hit my spot on my leg that hurt, the blood spot where the tumor is. And they all thought that that's what caused the tumor. Well it didn't -- it was just something that was growing. The worst pain. I never let my mom wash that leg -- I would always pull away from her when she going to wash that leg, because it would hurt. She couldn't understand why, she'd get upset with me. It was growing. By the time I got into -- well, it was '47 or '48 when they started to take me around to all these different doctors. Thought
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