Legislature To Take Up Resolution Honoring Lola Aiken

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(Host) On Friday, the Vermont Legislature will pay tribute to Lola Aiken, who turns 100 this year.

Lawmakers will take up a resolution wishing her a happy birthday and celebrating her long involvement in Vermont politics and civic work.

Recently, VPR’s Steve Zind paid a visit to the woman everyone knows simply as "Lola."

(Zind) "Hi Lola, how are you?"

(Lola) "I’m glad to see you."

(Zind) "You look great, you never change."

(Zind) Lola still has three more months to enjoy being 99. Her hundredth birthday isn’t until June 24th

(Lola) "I feel pretty good."

(Zind) For the past few years Lola has lived in an assisted care facility in her hometown of Montpelier, but she still gets around just fine without any props or assistance. 

With her diminutive figure and Mr. Magoo glasses, Lola cuts an immediately recognizable figure in Montpelier and she says she enjoys it when people chat her up on the street. 

Lola gained prominence as the chief of staff and later wife of the late George Aiken, the legendary senator and governor. But she’s also cut quite a political figure in her own right.

She plans to be at the Statehouse on Friday when the Legislature takes up a resolution honoring her.

(Helling) "And whereas the members of the legislature wish to pay special tribute to a most endearing and gracious Vermonter whose life has been of historic magnitude."

(Zind) Montpelier lawyer Dot Helling helped craft the resolution. Helling’s friendship with Lola was cemented when the two went dancing together. That was back when Lola was in her early 90s.

(Helling) "Lola loves to dance."

(Lola) "I love to dance."

(Zind) Last year, to celebrate her 99th birthday, Lola led a group of friends to a local Montpelier watering hole.

(Helling) "And a couple of her friends said, ‘what are you bringing us to a bar for in the middle of the day?’ And Lola says, ‘It’ll be fun’. And it was. We had a blast." (Lola laughs)

(Zind) The stories Lola loved to tell about her years in Washington at George Aiken’s side don’t come as easily anymore. And her enthusiasm for talking to about the man she always referred to as "the Governor" has faded, too.

The memories she holds on to now aren’t of the senator who served Vermont for more than three decades, but of the husband who died nearly 28 years ago.  

(Lola) "I like thinking about him. I don’t talk about him because it hurts me. I liked being with him. I liked being alone with him."

(Zind) Not too many years ago, Lola’s age was a well guarded secret, unknown even to the senator’s staff members. She once said, "Anybody who will tell their age will tell anything." 

Now Lola says it doesn’t bother her that people know she’s about to turn 100.

For VPR News, I’m Steve Zind.

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