Longform

Out with the old

Page 6 of 6

Charlotte Knaus spent the Depression selling lipstick and wishing she were onstage.

She worked at Wanamaker's department store in Manhattan in the theater district, which kept her close to her passion. On weekends, after turning in all but $2 of the $15 she made each week to her father, Knaus would perform in radio plays and hone her acting skills.

She fell in love with another Wanamaker's clerk who also lived for the theater and had trained as an actor. They married in 1937 and had two children.

Today, Knaus is 88, and she lives alone in Desert Crest. "I have two retired children. I can't understand where the time went," she says, and it's not hard to agree with her--Knaus is arguably the youngest 88-year-old in Phoenix.

Today, she's taking part in a board meeting of the Desert Crest residents' club held in the Bishop Rausch Fellowship Hall.

The residents have a grim task: They need to decide what will be done with various club properties and bank accounts if Knaus and McCullough and the rest are kicked out of Desert Crest.

They've managed to amass a sizable sum through the years. About $21,000 is spread among several bank accounts. But with the fight of their life on their hands, the venerable men and women think not of themselves but others. They discuss giving the money to charity.

Then, from 97-year-old Daviejean Six, Lyle's mother, there's another suggestion. Margaret Bowman asks the softspoken nonagenarian to repeat her proposal.

"Daviejean suggests we have a big party!"
"With $21,000?"
"Whoa!"

"Well," Bowman says, laughing, "Daviejean wants to be part of something, and she's 97. She can't wait much longer."

Contact Tony Ortega at his online address: [email protected]

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Tony Ortega
Contact: Tony Ortega