default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Lodi woman, 95, playing drums after 80-plus year hiatus

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 2:22 pm, Tue Dec 6, 2011.

Dixie Belletto turned 95 years old the day after Thanksgiving, but her daughter, Lita Wallach, couldn’t decide on a birthday gift. “I couldn’t think of anything else to get her, so I got her some drum lessons,” Wallach said.

But here’s the catch: It’s been more than eight decades since Belletto played the drums, at St. James Grade School in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“I didn’t know I was going to get it,” Belletto said. “I thought it was a joke at first.”

Belletto took her third lesson on Monday afternoon from retired Lodi Unified School District music teacher Bob Romans, at his house in south Lodi.

“Remember to use your wrists as much as you can,” Romans told Belletto.

She played a drum about 6 inches in diameter on Romans’ kitchen table.

Belletto has a great sense of rhythm, Romans said, but what she needs to work on the most is to drum harder with her left hand. Because she’s righthanded, Belletto drums with greater intensity with that hand.

She also has to cope with her declining eyesight. Belletto can see peripherally, but not straight ahead. That doesn’t slow her down much. She proudly says she can do pretty much everything but drive. Belletto even lives on her own in Lodi.

Belletto improved her independence through the Community Center for the Blind in Stockton, though she takes advantage of the twice-weekly sessions in Lodi.

Not only does she play the drums, Belletto volunteers in the Lodi Public Library’s tutor literacy program, something she’s done the past 14 years. She also takes Dial-a-Ride so she can work out twice a week at Fitness Works.

“I take computer lessons, too,” Belletto said.

She’s proficient at exchanging e-mails and paying her bills online, but she’s reluctant to join social networking groups like Facebook.

“I don’t have time to be on the computer all day,” Belletto explained.

She also listens to biographies and other non-fiction books on tape, which are available to the blind free of charge at the California State Library in Sacramento.

Belletto is re-learning her musical talent from a man who taught music at Tokay High School in 1977 and 1978, at Woodbridge Middle and Houston schools, plus several elementary schools in Lodi Unified. Romans retired 15 years ago, but give private lessons on the trombone, trumpet, accordion, drums — pretty much anything you can play in a band.

His wife, Carol, plays second flute in the Stockton Symphony. Wallach takes flute lessons from her.

Belletto isn’t about to play the drums to the likes of hard-core rock ’n’ rollers like the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, but Romans doesn’t think it’s out of the question that she could perform with the Lodi Community Band to satisfy her musical taste.

She’s taking it one tap at a time.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.


Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 85


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists