OKEECHOBEE — Lois Savicki was born in Pennsylvania but, immediately after she graduated from high school in 1944, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the FBI. “I absolutely loved it,” she said. She was trained as a fingerprint expert.
Fingerprints became the FBI’s specialty back in 1924 when they took over cataloging all the fingerprints in America. The first fingerprint ever used to solve a crime was a bloody print left on a door frame in Argentina. Police there used the print to solve a murder. In 1903, the New York Police Department began using fingerprinting as a way to identify people, and the practice spread across the country from there.
Lois was trained to read and identify fingerprints and said she will always remember this job with love. She liked everything about it. At first, she worked exclusively with fingerprints, but later on, she worked for one of the agents. “That gave me a lot more things to do.” One year, she and a girlfriend took a bus to Baltimore. During the trip, the bus stopped, and the women overheard five men talking about something illegal. The two hung around and pretended they weren’t paying attention, but they got all the information and took it back to their boss. He said: “Don’t you ever do that again! You could have been killed!”
In her time with the bureau, she received three letters from Herbert Hoover and said she will never part with them.
As the second of 11 children, she did her best to help her family after she got her job. They lived on a farm without indoor plumbing, and she had that put in for them. They never had a television or a telephone until she went to work for the FBI, she said. “I tried helping them and paying for things as much as I could.”
When she got married, she had to quit after almost 10 years on the job. Her new husband, Carl, was in the Marines and was being transferred across the country.
Although she missed her job, she was happy to give it up to follow her husband. “He was an angel,” she said. “ A pure angel. We had a wonderful life. I wish everyone could be lucky enough to be as happy as we were.” She met Carl at a gathering at her house one night. He was there with some of her friends. When she met him, she at first thought he was a bit rude. They were both sitting down, and he turned to her and said, “Give me my hat.” She said there was no “please” or “thank you” involved so, she picked up his hat, gave him a look and threw it across the room. She said, “Go get it yourself.” A little later, they all decided to go out to a nightclub. As everyone filed out the door, Carl said, “Just a minute.” Then, he went over to see if the gas stove was turned off. Lois said to herself, “What man does that?” She fell in love with him right then and there. They were married about four years later.
They moved to North Carolina after their wedding in 1951. “I wish everybody had our life.” In all their years together, she only remembers one small dispute. “He was such an angel, but I was rough on him. I was not an angel.” The couple had three sons together.
Around the time Carl retired from the military, they opened a gift shop to give themselves an income after his retirement, but she said there was no money in it. They ended up opening a bar a couple of blocks from the gift shop. Then later, they opened a second bar and then built a third. “We celebrated our 50th anniversary in that bar. We left Okeechobee and flew back to California to celebrate.”
They sold two of the bars later and hung on to the third until a racially motivated incident made them decide it was time to sell. They never had trouble in any of the bars with fights, but one afternoon, they had a band in there to play, and they were a rough bunch, she said. All of a sudden, she heard one of them say he wanted to kill a black man, only he used a derogatory word rather than saying “black man.” She looked up and saw a black man walking in. “They almost killed him.” Her son broke it up, but she thought he could have been killed himself, and they decided it was time to sell. They opened two exercise salons; and at first, it was great, but right about that time the gas shortage hit, and no one came in to the salons.
They moved to Okeechobee in 1991 to be closer to Lois’ sisters, and Carl loved the place as soon as he saw it.
Carl passed away six years ago. They were married 62 years. “I’m lucky. I’ve enjoyed just about everything in my life,” she said.
Lois loves to dance and said, “When I hear music, my feet just don’t stay still. Although she is now 95 years old, she goes out dancing as often as she possibly can. Before the coronavirus, she went dancing six nights a week. The shutdown was very difficult for her, because she lives alone and going out to dance is her socialization. That’s where her friends are. It is also a wonderful exercise, she explained. She said yes, her joints ache and things hurt, but she just gets up and dances anyway, and before she knows it, she feels better. She doesn’t dance with a partner, though. That privilege was reserved for Carl alone.
“I’m lucky. I’ve enjoyed just about everything in my life,” she said.