By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
Dolores “Lolita” Salas was born 100 years ago in the small town of Tenamaxtlán, Jalisco.
This year that’s starting, 2008, will mark her 101 birthday, on February 24, Day of the Mexican Flag.
“I feel pretty good, but I don’t like that I can’t walk,” Lolita said a recent afternoon at Windsor Gardens Convalescent Center, in National City, where she has lived since 2002.
Lolita is a lively, chatty, viejita that has a lot of friends at Windsor Gardens. She’s known for her positive attitude and her interest in always starting a good conversation.
“I like to talk a lot,” said a smiling Lolita, as she’s called with love. “
Lolita particularly likes to spend time with her 77 year-old niece, Lucy Villaseñor, who visits her often at Windsor Gardens.
“We like to open the vault of memories and remember aspects of earlier days,” Villaseñor said. “My tía likes to talk about her childhood in Jalisco, of the fiestas, of the traditions.”
When she’s not sharing anecdotes with her family and friends, Lolita likes to spend her time reading and watching television, although her sight has began to feel the pressure of time, she said.
“I get tired of staring at the screen,” she said.
Lolita came to the United States in 1937 and settled in San Diego. She then moved to San Francisco to live with a sister.
After World War II ended, Lolita returned to the region to open a restaurant in Tijuana. It was called La pasadita and it was located on Sixth Street, between Madero and Negrete avenues.
She married three times and widowed. She had a daughter who died at a young age.
Her philosophy of life, which has helped her reach 100, is taken directly from Jesus Christ, she said: “You have to be good to people. If someone wishes me harm, I wish them good. That’s very important: To always be good to others and to have a lot of faith in God.”
Lolita has always been a devout Catholic. During her youth, she was very involved at Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Chula Vista. She would support church events and would event organize tamale sales to help raise funds for the parish.
“My tía has always been a very good person. She likes to help others,” Villaseñor said.
Lolita suffers of no health conditions, Villaseñor said, although because of her age, she spends more of the day resting.
Lolita has a brilliant memory, and she cited from memory a long poem by Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
During a recent Saturday afternoon, the San Ysidro Girl Scout Troop No. 5912 visited Windsor Gardens Convalescent Center, where Lolita lives.
During that visit, the girls were specially attracted by Lolita, who was smiling all the time.
“Those little girls were really nice, reminded me of my childhood. Many of them gave me a kiss and a hug,” Lolita said.
When Lolita told the Girl Scouts that she was going to turn 101 in February, she invited them to come to her birthday party.
“Never hate anybody,” Lolita told the girls. “Hatred will give you wrinkles and bitterness.”