Getting Personal: Ivadale Foster

Getting Personal is a Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with longtime Vermilion County Board member - and musician - Ivadale Foster of Danville.

Why do you want to be on the county board?

I'd like to be on it for 35 years. I'd love to serve just a two-year term, but we drew straws and the two men that were in District 8 got the two-year terms and I got the four-year term. I'm still concerned about the future of Danville and all of Vermilion County.

Are you still living at your home and how's your health?

Oh, yes, I'm still at home. I've been on a cane for 22 years, but I worked all of those years. And I drove all those years. I haven't driven this year. I don't think I'll renew my license. I don't take any prescribed medicines, but they recently prescribed vitamin B12 and I take calcium tablets and a low-dose aspirin.

So what's new with you?

The newest thing with me is I am an author; I've been writing a book. The Rev. Roland Brown and I are co-authors. He asked me when I gave a talk about Black History Month three years ago whether Steve Morris and I would write a book about the black history of Danville; Steve Morris has since passed away.

I also made a 60-minute CD of me playing spirituals, patriotic and old-time swing on piano. The CD is made and I was going to have it with the book, but they advocated that I sell it. People have been giving me $5 or $10 for it.

Do you still play piano at church?

Oh, yes, I'm still pianist for the Allen AME Church. I started playing piano in church when I was 11 and began giving piano lessons when I was 19. I'm still giving lessons. I have four students. Over the years, I've taught 100 students.

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

I get up around 10 in the morning. I cook myself my own breakfast, but I don't like breakfast food so I cook myself a brunch of mostly dinner food. I drink hot green tea with lemon every morning and a small shot glass of cranberry juice every morning.

What do you consider your greatest achievement or accomplishment?

I was a Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction and put on the Danville High School Wall of Fame.

What do you regard as your most treasured possession?

My greatest possession is I always wanted a baby grand piano from the time I was 5. I didn't get one until my 85th birthday. I bought it for myself, from a couple in Champaign.

Do you have a guilty pleasure and what is it?

No. I tell people I don't drink or smoke or chase men. They say, "Well, what do you do?" And I say "Just what I'm doing." My hobbies are literature, music and art.

What book are you reading now? What is your favorite book ever?

I'm not reading any book now. I'm writing my own book. My favorite book is the Bible.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

There are lots of places I want to go. I did get to go to the one main one I wanted to go — Phoenix, Ariz., where my grandson is an orthodontic dentist. He's been there 20 years, and I just went there this year.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

Oh, my favorite pet was my dog, Reno. I got him when I was 16 months old; I was just taken with him. All my life I've loved dogs. I've always said I would have dogs in my home, but I never have because other people in my home didn't want dogs.

What's your favorite sports team?

I guess you might say my favorite team is the Brooklyn Dodgers, because Jackie Robinson was on the team. But my favorite sport is basketball.

What would you order for your last meal?

I can tell you some of my favorites in food, and one of the main ones is coconut cake. I like butter-pecan ice cream and three-way sherbet — lime, strawberry and pineapple. My favorite drink is raspberry tea, and I make a Boston tea that I have requests for all the time. I'm told all the time I should sell it. My favorite meat is chicken wings and thighs. Drumsticks of chicken is my favorite. I like the dark meat, not the white meat. I say I'm prejudiced. And I love fried shrimp, potato salad or slaw, mustard greens, hot rolls and cornbread.

Who are your favorite musicians and why?

Thomas A. Dorsey, who wrote spirituals. He wrote "Precious Lord."

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?

Oprah Winfrey and Barack and Michelle Obama. I would serve grilled turkey, Boston tea, potato salad, coconut cake, baked beans, hot rolls, homemade cornbread and mustard and turnip greens.

Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?

Phillis Wheatley. I was vice president of the Phillis Wheatley Club when I was a student at Danville High School. (Wheatley was the second published African-American poet and the first published African-American woman.)

What personality trait do you most hate in other people? Most hate in yourself?

I most hate really fake, not-for-real people. People who put on a false front. And people who are on an ego trip. What do I hate in myself? I guess being too trusting in what people say.

What's your best piece of advice?

When you want to do something or start to do something, give up all day and work all day but don't ever give up what you want to do. That's why I say I will never retire. When you stop you stop.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

I worked for the National Youth Association in high school, collecting attendance slips. I don't remember how much but I got very, very little.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I pray and ask the Lord because I know he can do anything. I ask him to work out any problems I have. I go to God in prayer.

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