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Young-at-heart 'Golden Girl' Jackie Dunphy keeps on dancing

Dolores "Jackie" Dunphy, who celebrated her 85th birthday last month, is a dancer by heart. Born Aug. 19, 1926 at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dolores lived in Baltimore near Patterson Park with her parents, a sister and a brother. She attended school at St. Patrick's, on Broadway and Bank streets, and Eastern High School, then went to Howard Community College. A Baltimore native who lived her formative years in Charm City, tap dancing became much more important to her than just a a way to spend her retirement years. Dunphy is the driving force behind the Golden Girls entertainment group, which has performed locally for years. She talks about those topics and more in Melba's Top Five.

1. It seems as if your post-retirement life is much more busy than when you were working. How did tap dancing become the focus of your time after retirement?

After retiring, I joined the Columbia Association's Bain Center to take tap dancing lessons, which was great fun, because I have always been a dancer. A few years later, I branched out on my own and formed my own dancing group, known as the "Golden Girls and Co.', because of the "Goldenaires Orchestra" of the Bain Center, which plays for their practices, etc. We are known for entertaining at nursing homes, senior centers, at private parties and wherever we are needed.

2. Where have you the Golden Girls entertained?

The Golden Girls have performed in Washington at the U.S. Naval Yard, in Baltimore at Oriole Park and Camden Yards and in addition, a few years back, at the annual Chocolate Ball, at the request of one of the former Howard County Executives, Charles Ecker. Several times we have entertained at the Howard County Office On Aging's annual expos.

3. Before the county knew you as one of the Golden Girls, you worked for the telephone company and even had a part in the effort to support the troops in World War II. Tell us about that.

My first and only job was with the C&P (Chesapeake and Potomac) Telephone Company, on Light Street, next to the Southern Hotel. I worked as a long-distance telephone operator and the job was fascinating. During World War II, I traveled all over Maryland, working at "Attended Pay Stations." I worked in Annapolis, Aberdeen and the Bainbridge Naval Training Station and many other nearby places and towns. At these stations, we put LD (long distance) calls through for the men and women in the Service. At that time, it sometimes took hours and even days to put a call through overseas and other destinations, a practice unheard of today. I retired at the age of 58 from AT&T when computers were taking over for operators. I enjoyed my work very much my entire career.

4. You have been quite the globetrotter during your life — your suitcase must be chock-full of stickers from places all around the world. Did you ever meet any famous people?

I have traveled a great deal — Japan, Russia, Paris, Hong Kong, Thailand, Paris, Sweden, Mexico and Finland, just to name a few places — and I have also met and seen many entertainers over the years, like Sophie Tucker, Marlene Dietrich, Rudy Vallee, Judy Garland, Bert Parks, Tiny Tim, Betty Hutton, Betty Grable and oh, so many more. They were exciting times!

5. And even now, you're still going and participate in so many groups and activities. What are you up to these days?

At present, I am contracted to teach a tap-dancing class at the Ellicott City Senior Center for six weeks from Oct. 5 to Nov. 9, but that is not all I'm doing these days. I am a member of the Bain Council, in Columbia, the Red Hat Society of the Bain Center, the County Police Triad, the Senior Entertainment and Arts Program, the 50+ Players and am a member of the Telephone Pioneers of America. And I will keep doing what I'm doing 'til I can do no more!

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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