By Grace Kull CONTRIBUTING WRITER
---- — There is a tree right outside the window in the dining room, that I face when I’m in there eating my meals and I’ve been watching it as the season changes. The leaves gradually turned from green to crimson and gold and when the sun shone on them, they were dazzling. I would come in each day and think, “This is it, they’ve reached their peak,” but no, they continued to get more colorful. Almost without noticing it though, they started to fade and then the leaves began to fall off. And now the branches are bare, except for a few hangers-on.
It makes me sad. I know that it means winter is on the way and as I get older, the winters seem longer and colder. But, this year I’ll be living here at the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home and my winter will be much easier and less lonely.
I’m getting used to the routine and activities here. A pretty young lady named Kate Sentz, has been coming in two days a week to keep us old folks interested in playing games and other activities. A young man named John Santello has been hired as full time activities director and he brings with him lots of enthusiasm and many ideas to keep us busy and interested.
On Oct. 2, I was invited to join a team to play volleyball. If you’ve never seen a game of volleyball played by 80 and 90 year olds, let me explain how it works. Two rows of chairs are lined up on each side of a net. The team members sit in the chairs and one of the rules of the game is that they are not permitted to get out of the chair to hit the ball over the net. That’s a good rule because it would be difficult for many of us to get out of the chair any way. Hands, heads, and feet may be used to get the ball over the net, but the player must remain seated. By the way, the “ball” is a balloon.
The teams were named “the Gingers” and “the Jacks” after our house pets. I was on “the Jacks” along with Dee Burnett, Gene Dietz, Margaret Rees, and we were helped along by Staff members Jennifer Hunter, Frank Miller and Mike Walrath.
Linda Graves, and our director, Laurie Blatt stepped in at times to help “the Gingers” team, which consisted of Fannie Navarra, Lois Warrell, Jeanette Hansen, Carrie Jane Watkins, Nancy Waller and Wanda Noyes. The game got a little out of hand and I’m not sure which team actually won, but my vote for MVP for the “Gingers” goes to Fannie, who never missed a shot that came her way and for the “Jacks,” it goes to Margaret who kept kicking the “ball” to keep it in the air for the other team members to get it over the net. Needless to say, we had a hilarious time.
Someday I’ll tell you how we bowl.
Every day at 4:30 p.m. we have “Happy Hour” where the residents gather in the living room for a drink of their choice and snacks. It’s usually a quiet time of relaxation and conversation, but we were fortunate on Oct. 14, to have a young lady, named Rene Wyant come to play the piano. She played lovely lilting tunes. Rene is a friend of staff member Jennifer Hunter, whose family, Colt Patenaude and Cailyn, their thirteen month old daughter were also here. It was fun to watch this cute little toddler running around and that day we truly had a “Happy Hour.”
There is a combined birthday party every month for the residents and staff who have a birthday in that month. This month the party was held on Oct. 17 and the honorees were Alex Melniczenko, Lauren Miller, Dottie Bly, Amanda Groshen, Carrie Jane Watkins, Martha Quinn and Phil Bresee. The living room looked festive decorated with balloons and streamers. We had a harvest birthday cake, filled with apples, raisins and nuts and topped with cream cheese icing. Delicious. It was made by Darcey Shilling, of dining services, who turns out many of the delectable treats that we are served. Besides the combined party, each resident gets to choose his/her favorite dessert to be served at dinner on the exact date of their birth.
This makes for some very interesting choices.
On the evening of Oct. 17, there was a program complete with old time pictures, on the History of Doubleday Field, presented by Tom Heitz, former Librarian of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a member of the Society for American Research. It was very informative. Interestingly, he said that it was only in 2003 that the Baseball Hall Of Fame, formally acknowledged the legend that General Abner Doubleday invented baseball here on the pasture which is now Doubleday Field, is just that, a legend. Historians have long known this, as has the Hall of Fame, but it was to Cooperstown’s advantage to perpetuate the myth.
Our Bill Bowes was chosen to go on a Veteran’s Honor Flight to Washington, DC to visit the Veteran’s Monument and to be feted all day. He left Cooperstown Saturday, Oct. 19 at 6 a.m. and returned home Sunday at 1 a.m. Bill, who served in the Navy, says this was the most memorable experience of his life. He was accompanied on the trip by David Rees, who is Margaret Rees’ son.
On Oct. 24, Phil Bresee’s family came and taught us a game, called “Mexican Train.” It is played with 91 dominos and doesn’t resemble any game of dominos that I ever played, except that you do match the dots. Those who tried to learn the game were, Laurie Blatt, Janet Gorman, Bill Bowes, Lois Warrell, Jeanette Hansen and I. You notice that I said, “tried”. It’s a good game, but somewhat complicated. The ladies generously donated the game to us, and some of us have been playing and are now beginning to “get it.”
The weather is getting colder and we’ve already had a hard frost and a few snow flurries, which makes us think ahead to Thanksgiving. So to get a jump on the holiday, Dee Bouck, one of our wonderful Personal Care aides, who has been doing this every year for lots of years, got a group of us together to make tray favors for the 168 patients expected to be in Bassett Hospital on Thanksgiving day. Those who participated were Jeanette Hansen, Janet Gorman, Wanda Noyes, Gene Dietz, Nancy Waller and I. Mary Butler, another one of our wonderful PC ladies worked with us also.
We were offered the opportunity on Oct. 25, to fill out absentee ballots and many of us did so. This made it convenient for us to vote.
On the morning of Oct. 30, we were visited by ten students of Ms. Mary’s Cooperstown Pre-school, resplendent in Halloween costumes, representing everything from Laura Ingalls to Spongebob Squarepants, with a sprinkling of clowns, policemen and super heroes. Of course they were accompanied by Ms. Mary, who directed them in songs and dances. She gave each one of them a chance to shine and show off their costume by having him/her twirl around in the center of a circle formed by the other kids as they sat on the floor. They were all very cute and brightened up our day. As they left, each one was presented with a bag of goodies by one of the residents. These were reflective bags for them to use for trick or treating and were donated by Rich McCaffery, Community Educator and Director of Safe Kids at Bassett Healthcare. In the bags were candy treats made to look like ghosts and mummies by some of the staff and residents.
Our Harvest dinner was on Oct. 30, when the staff and residents dine together. What a feast! It was a regular Thanksgiving dinner with all the “fixins”. Kudos to Kathy Lindberg, Dining Services Manager and her staff, Darcey Schilling and Chris Karpowich, who worked diligently to plan and prepare this sumptuous meal. Each table had a pumpkin on it which was passed around to each diner at that table, who was asked to use a black magic marker to draw one of the features of a face on it. This was done with more zeal than expertise and the results gave us all a good laugh.
On Oct. 31,Halloween, when ghosts and goblins and all manner of weird creatures come to haunt us. And they were out in full force on this day here at CWTH. The Staff were dressed in costumes, some lovely, some scary, but all wonderful. A few days before Halloween several large plastic bins full of the makings of all manner of Halloween costumes, were brought into the activity room for anyone interested in choosing a costume. There were hats and wigs, a tutu and even a false belly. I noticed that no one chose the tutu or the false belly. Maybe next year. But all the residents were decked out in some sort of costume, some helped by our creative and always willing staff. We had a party in the afternoon where everyone came in their costumes and we played Halloween Bingo and Charades. The prizes for games that we play here are chocolate candies, for which I admit, we all vie. There was lots of chocolate doled out this day. We also had cider and doughnut holes. We had a few kids come trick or treating. Tammy Edwards, one of our wonderful Personal Care aides, brought her two grandsons, Devin and Zachery, who were dressed like dreadful dragons and Jennifer Hunter, another of our wonderful PC aides, brought her little one, Cailyn, who was a beautiful ballerina. It was a fun filled day.
This month we welcomed a new member to the CWTH family. Kay Friery moved in on Oct. 11, from Oneonta. However, she says she has spent so many summers in Cooperstown that she considers herself a Cooperstownian and now it’s for real. We wish her many years of good health and happiness.
Ginger and Jack are fine.