Dee Kuhlman

Dee Kuhlman, aged “it’s nobody’s business” but her own, loves to cook (and fancy at that), is incredibly organized, and has a wonderfully loving and happy spirit. Interviewed by Lorraine Borowski, long-time friend and Decorah Public Library Director.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up during the depression – I had to help support my family, I didn’t have a choice. When I was 10 I said I could go out and work. My dad – previously a successful and wealthy businessman in Chicago – couldn’t stand the idea that I would be a working girl. Finally, he said, “You’re not going to work with your hands, you’re going to work with your head.”

What do/did you do?
At 15 I started working as a stenographer for Sears. I hated it. My friend was going to Europe for a year and said I could take her job working for the railroad while she was gone. I interviewed for a secretary job and they gave me a sheet to write out – I did good job on it and they said, “Okay, you’ll do.” I told them okay, great, but I want a job after my friend gets back too. I was the secretary to three railroad presidents, traveled all over the country – I had a very exciting life. I worked there from age 16 until I was married at age 31.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
I’d want a guy, and the three things he would have would be a good body, a good personality, and a real insight about the world.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
Weird and crazy.

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Well I love to eat, if you can’t tell. Anything that tastes good. I love chicken. Oh, and anything terribly fancy and well-served.

Name one thing you could not live without.
Joy and the interesting people around me.

How did you meet your husband (the late Will Kuhlman)?
I was at a church function – that I didn’t really want to go to – and it was crowded. I had my hand on a banister and some man put his hand on mine, holding it. I said, “Excuse me, we’re you the one holding my hand? How dare you?” I wasn’t entranced, but he said he wanted to see me again. A good date’s a good date, so I went. And soon, there was something wrong with me: I was falling in love.

Multiple choice: tell us about… your wedding day.
We were engaged February 14 and married in May just months later. We knew he was supposed to be going overseas to the war. It was very simple – sweet church wedding. My whole office was there, and then there was a reception and dinner at the Carlton Hotel in Chicago.

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