By Gloria DULAN-Wilson
This is personal: I am sending a special birthday greeting to my favorite uncle, and favorite person on the planet - outside my Mom, Dad, Brother,Sisters, Man, God & my kids - My uncle Adolf Dulan - my Dad's baby brother, who has the distinction of being the stalwart patriarch of the family, is celebrating his 77th birthday today, June 18, 2011, in Los Angeles, California. I want to salute him. So join me in doing so.
When I say they don't make them like him any more, I'm not exaggerating. He's a fine Black man - not just playboy, pretty boy fine - he's that kind of fine that just mellows and gets better looking with age. He's articulate, intelligent, educated, principled, and a gentleman - definitely a lady's man - in that he knows how to treat a lady like a lady, and respect her as a woman at the same time.
He's managed to be successful on so many levels - in his business - he owns Dulan's Soul Food Kitchen in Los Angeles - which started out as Hamburger City, evolved into Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch (now owned by my cousins - Tiffany and Danielle Dulan); he's raised 5 kids, and taught them each positive work ethics, the value of family and the importance of keeping your word.
He's got jokes - a great sense of humor; and great taste in clothes, friends, and his lady - he always manages to be involved with someone who is intelligent, articulate, stylish and an asset (Dorothy, you rock!)
My Uncle Adolf, son of Zady and Silas Dulan, brother of Warner Hale Dulan (my Dad), Alene Dulan (Talton) and Zethel Dulan (Thomas) were all raised on Oklahoma Soil in a shack on the prairie - for real!! No electricity, no gas,no plumbing - basically a sod house that my grandparents built themselves - with an outhouse, no less, in a little town called Luther, Oklahoma.
Oklahoma, which means land of the red people, has soil that is as red as our Indian heritage, and as richly Black as the African heritage, and the mixed bloodlines that course through our veins.
My granddaddy was a stickler for education, and we are all the same way. He put all his kids, as well as his brothers and sisters through college - Langston University, in Oklahoma.
When Adolf relocated to California after the Korean War, to put down roots, he became a social worker, and worked for years in the community trying to help others have a better life. When he decided to go into business for himself, he took a big dose of his own medicine - his own advice - and began to look for ways to develop an autonomous business that others would resonate to. He never stopped learning, exploring, inquiring, trying new things. Though the beginning was initially rather rocky - with some hit or miss efforts - when he evolved into Aunt Kizzy's he found he had a hit on his hands. Those cabins you see on the walls at Aunt Kizzy's and Dulan's Soul Food Kitchen are real - my Uncle literally went from rags to riches, using his ingenuity, talent, and the foundation laid by my Grandaddy Silas.
Soul food (comfort foods) that appealed to African Americans, as well as to the broader population, was based on old family recipes that had been shared down through our collective families; it was such a hit, that he began to be mentioned on such television shows of the day as Arsenio Hall and others.
Not one to rest on his laurels, when he decided to go the way of just soul food to go, Dulan's was born - just 7 years ago - when most people would be hanging up their hats and putting themselves out to pasture - not my uncle.
Adolf is better than the energizer bunny - he has taken that energy and ingenuity to a whole 'nutha levul.'
I recently told my daughter that if there was a way to clone him I would do it - just so young ladies her age could experience what it is like to be treated with respect, dignity, and have fun doing it - but, I observed, if they were able to clone Adolf, the rest of the guys her age would never stand a chance. They'd either have to step up their game or step off.
Never a 4-letter word, a b-word, a n-word from his mouth. Always a smile; always a compliment; always that great sense of humor. Always listening, and reflecting back to you so that you know you're communicating and comprehending.
The kids call my generation "old school", while we call Adolf's generation "real school".
Make no mistake about it, though, he's no pushover - he is from Oklahoma - and we don't play. The school of life he comes from is a combination of the Code of the West; the nobility of the Indian Nations (Creek); and the "gentility" of of the South. (Notice I put "gentility in quotes - the South was anything but genteel).
Black Indians (whites had another name for us) are a totally different breed of cat - we used to say, he laughs, and he jokes, but he don't play.
Does it sound like I'm bragging about my uncle - of course I am - and who better than me - the first born niece!! Proud of him - proud he's my uncle - he's stood with and by the family in good and bad times, and we have stood by him. Our tribe is tight!
And my admiration for him doesn't stop with me. He's loved by so many in the greater Los Angeles area. But he's never lost his down home touch. And that's part of his charm. Elegance, style - with just a touch of humility. Not only will he feed you some of the finest Southern Soul cuisine west of the Mississippi (T-Bone Steak, catfish, swai fish, collard greens, candied yams, real corn bread, okra, corn & tomatoes, short ribs, ox tails, smothered chicken, mac & cheese, black eyed peas, friend chicken, not to mention my Cousin Greg's Salmon Croquets, biscuits and grits!!!; with Ice Cold Watermelon, an avocado salad - by my cousin Ling; deep dish peach cobbler by Dorothy - are you hungry yet?)
And while you're washing it down with lemonade, Adolf will regale you with stories about growing up in Oklahoma, and our relatives that will keep you cracking up the entire evening.
I wish I could be there in person to celebrate this wonderful occasion with him and the family. Since I can't be there in person, I'm writing this article to give him his props, and to let him and the world know how special he is to me and all the family: Mom Ruby Love, Warner Jr., Brenda Nell, Sylvester, Kira, Rais, Adiya, LaDawn, and the rest of the crew in New York, Oklahoma City, Maryland, Philadelphia, DC, Virginia, Chicago, Detroit.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE ADOLF!!!!
I love you muchly. May you have many more wonderful, blessed, fun filled and love filled years to come.
From Gloria Jeanne
Stay Blessed &
PS: If you are traveling to LaLa Land stop by and tell them Gloria DULAN-Wilson sent you. Dulan's Soul Food Kitchen - (310) 671-3345 - Inglewood, CA 90312 · 202 E Manchester Blvd. GDW