Erwin Alkire and Dwaine Dahlin are definitely two wise guys, but don’t you dare call them “old.”
At 87 and 89 years old, the dynamic duo can run circles around almost anyone at Silver Dollar City. It’s their pride and joy to make the park sparkle and shine as Area Hosts.
“That means we clean potties and sweep streets,” Erwin says with a belly laugh. Dwaine interrupts him, “Oh, Erwin! We do so much more than that!”
Dwaine refers to what he calls the “people part” of their important work.
“We get to watch families have their best day ever,” he says. “I get tears in my eyes down at Fireman’s Landing seeing the little kids play and laugh. It really takes me back to my childhood when we’d play with big boxes and turn them into dollhouses for the neighbor girls.”
Erwin laughs about the dollhouses and agrees that joyful interactions with guests make his workload much lighter.
“We get to see them build a strong foundation for their children by making memories together,” he explains. “If I can help someone read their Pathfinder map or tell them what shows I suggest, it makes my busy work go by faster.”
While The City brought the men together in their 80s, they each lived very different lives before arriving at the park. Over a cold root beer – their favorite – they reminisce about how they got here. Dwaine left school after the eighth grade to help on the family farm in Minnesota, while Erwin – a Texan -- went on to college and pursued a career in photography and architecture.
“That’s another reason why this place is so great,” Dwaine says. “We all come from different places and educations but share the same goal: Just make people happy!”
And, they sure do! As they make their way to their workstations, their happy “hellos” bring smiles to visitors arriving for the day. They’re two men on a mission to carry out The City’s Mission – To create memories worth repeating.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Erwin says. “Doing our small part to make sure folks have a good time and come see us again! Even a street sweeper plays a role in that.”
For this feisty pair, there are no plans to slow down as long as their health holds up.
“The doctor says my ankles, legs, and hips are good,” smiles Erwin, who will turn 90 in November. “I know that’s because we walk more than five miles each shift. This job keeps me young and keeps me healthy.”
“Oh, I’m not leaving until I catch up to Erwin and turn 90,” Dwaine says with a smile as he slams the final sip of his root beer. “I’m on a mission to make it until then.”
Their work ethic is fueled by more than a cold pop. Both say the ladies in their lives have inspired them to be their best on the job and at home. Erwin has been married for 66 years to his sweetheart Maunie Lou. Dwaine calls Diane, his wife of 60 years, the “greatest love of my whole life.”
The guys playfully bicker like brothers but both agree on the secret to a long-lasting marriage.
“Just keep your mouth shut when she’s talking,” laughs Erwin. “Oh, yeah! And always, always, always tell her yes!” Dwaine adds.
Both say they could talk about their wives all day but the clock is ticking, and there’s work to do as guests arrive at the park. They head out the door and up the hill to start their shift with a pep in their step and a smile to share.
“Today’s going to be a good day,” Erwin says. “No,” Dwaine interrupts. “The BEST day!”