Lena Dramann celebrates 100 years

Wanda English Burnett

Content with the life she has lived, Lena Dramann said there’s only one wish she didn’t fulfill in her 100 years. “I wanted to be a nurse,” she told the Osgood Journal in an interview about her upcoming birthday on November 8 when she will have lived a century.

Simply put, she said her folks couldn’t afford for her to go to nursing school. So as many girls of her generation, she completed “common” school - which was eight grades and then went to work.

Her work was always taking care of others, so a portion of her dream for nursing was realized.

Lena shared that she had been through some hard times - but always held steady. She’s seen wars, including World War I, lost two husbands to death, and struggled financially, but she never gave up.
She grew up the daughter of Frank and Anna Lang and lived most of her childhood on property adjoining the Versailles State Park. She and one brother, Henry, walked over a mile to a one-room schoolhouse known as Cedar Creek School, which was located on Friendship Road.

Lena said she didn’t mind walking to school, “everybody did then,” she commented. She has fond memories of her third grade teacher, Irvin Wright and said history was her favorite subject.

As a child she enjoyed activities such as checkers and other board games. “Oh, no,” she laughed, “we didn’t have television.”

Christmas was a good time for Lena as she remembered stringing popcorn for the tree and later putting it outside for the birds.

Lena met her first husband after she got a job caring for his ailing mother. Gordon Burroughs and Lena were married and ran a grocery story at Dabney called Taulbees. “My, yes,” she said, “Dabney was a big town back then.”

But in 1957 tragedy struck and Lena’s husband was killed in a truck/train crash at Holton.

Another tragedy occurred near the same time involving a friend of Lena's - Bhuford Dramann, when his wife died in childbirth.

Lena and Bhuford had known each other when they were young, they were actually sweethearts before either was married to someone else.

Lena came to take care of Bhuford’s four children - Frances, 13, Bill, 11, Jim, 9 and Joan, 8. She soon became part of the Dramann family and the two married in 1958. Bhuford died in 1987 leaving Lena widowed again.

She is referred to as a “spunky” lady by staff at St. Andrews Healthcare Campus in Batesville, where she has made her home for the past three years. Up until that time she lived on her own.

Recently she went on one of the health facility’s excursions to Indiana Live, her first trip to a casino. “She loved it,” noted Jannie Deaton Haase, activities director at St. Andrews. Haase said the bells going off and the bright lights on the machines kept Lena busy checking out what was going on all around her. She even received a T-shirt from the casino management in celebration of her birthday as well as many different kinds of food to taste. “They really catered to her when they found out it was her first time in a casino and she was turning 100,” Haase noted.

Lena said the food was all pretty good, except she wrinkled her nose when sushi was mentioned. “Fried chicken,” she said was her favorite food.

Lena is an accomplished artisan making numerous needlework items, afghans and quilts over the years. She has enjoyed going to church, reading, and cooking. She truly enjoys her newspapers and according to daughter-in-law, Martha, “If she doesn’t get her Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican, she’s not very happy.”

She enjoys some television now, but absolutely no violent movies. She said she always enjoyed the Andy Griffith Show.

What will Lena do on her actual birthday, November 8? “I’m going fishing,” she declared. She loves her son Bill’s camping area near Osgood where she can enjoy fishing and “kicking back.” She said of Bill, “He’s got me spoiled.” Then teasingly she told him she was going to outlive him just to “give him a hard time.”

Lena said her best birthday ever was the year Bill was elected sheriff of Ripley County. “It was the greatest,” she said. She told how 40 years ago when he went into the field of law enforcement she wasn’t happy about it. “I was afraid he’d be killed.” But, she says she has overcome that fear and is proud of him.

The lady who is famous for her homemade breads, biscuits and down-home good cooking, said while they don’t cook everything to suit her at St. Andrews, the meals aren’t bad. But, anytime she can get some good fried chicken, she’s up for it!

Family and friends are invited to an open house in her honor November 11 from 2-4 p.m. at St. Andrews Healthcare Campus, 1400 Lammer’s Pike, Batesville. For those wanting to send birthday greetings they can be mailed to the above address, Room 204. No gifts please.

The grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of 22, answered the question, “What’s the secret to a long life?” like this. “Tending to my own business,” were the words of advice from Lena Dramann.

Lena Isabelle Dramann