I was thrilled to have my younger brother, Rich, stop by on my first Fri.
evening at Mom’s. I also was happy that the two of them had ordered
Prime Rib dinners “in” and we picked them up shortly after I arrived.
I set up three t.v. stands and we looked at the nine movies to see which
one we would like to watch after dinner.
Rich told me another exciting meal to look forward to: On Sunday,
October 27th, two days from then, Susan’s and his church was having a
Clam Bake! He had proceeded to order five tickets, hoping Mom and I
could “round up” two people from the senior apartments who would
enjoy a meal out with entertainment. (Side note: Susan is in either
Scotland or South Africa with her Baldwin Wallace college students, or
if reading much later, home by Thanksgiving, 2013.)
Freshly rested at noon the next day, Mom put her little dog, Nicki, on
her leash. We had eaten the breakfast that I go downstairs to get while
she sleeps the last hours before waking. I usually am downstairs by 9,
check or write a post in the Pub, if the computer is not occupied by
a Solitaire player or a savvy email resident and then get our food
before the dining room “closes” at 10 a.m. Mom NEVER ventures out
of her apartment to eat breakfast or lunch, just dinner. However, she
does eat her own cereal, two large, healthy “doses” of peanut butter
and drinks her own store bought milk. When we shop, she does buy
a few microwavable lunches. Having not been there since mid- Sept.
she had gone shopping once with my brother, Rich, and once with
her fellow bus riding resident friends.
I had chosen oatmeal, topped with brown sugar, cream, raisins and
butter, too. I had chosen for Mom, a raspberry filled donut and apricots.
We both have coffee, hers black, mine with cream and sweetener plus
juice. We alternate between four flavors of juice as the week progresses.
Cranberry, tomato, orange and prune juice.
Yes, I am now definitely a member of the Senior Citizens group, when
prune juice is now able to pass through my lips, into my mouth and
swallow without gagging, starting at the sight of that weird, brownish-
After breakfast, we found a “taker” who was very enthusiastic to the idea
of going out: Lois! After dinner, while we were waiting to take our meal
from the dining room, “to go,” Lois beckoned us. I sent Mom into the busy
dining room. I was content while sitting next to the gentleman who told us
such a fine, unique scary Halloween story, Felton. We had many chances
to chat over the 7 meals that Mom and I did not go out to eat nor get out
with my brother to eat.
To let you in on one of his daily “jokes,” Felton would greet us very loudly,
proclaiming, “Good evening, folks!”
Then he would let us in on what he called,
“My one and only main Job of the Day is to pick up my wife’s and my
A lot of the young servers would stick their heads out the door into the
hallway where there were at least 5-6 chairs for the purpose of waiting
to enter the dining room or picking up food. They would wave and say,
“Hi Felt! How are you tonight?”
Well, my Mom finally came out of the dining room at almost 7 p.m.
which Felt called the “witching hour” because even though we were
supposed to be able to pick up our “to go” dinners anytime after 6,
Felt said they were never going to “release the food until they were
good and ready!” He would have a pile of mail or a newspaper opened
across his lap, but he chatted and cheerfully regaled stories to us, or
any other listeners around.
Mom was excited to tell me that one of Lois’ table mates, Laverne,
was interested in coming to eat at the Clam Bake on the next day,
Sunday. She told me to go into the Pub behind the bar and find the
pad the bartender or barrista would use to take orders, bring it
back to her to write a reminder note for Laverne. This is my Mom’s
famous, favorite thing to do: we are always writing reminders and
she loves to hand them out, too!
Mom sat down, borrowing one of Felt’s magazines from his mail pile,
carefully lettering this note:
“Don’t forget to go to the front of the building at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday
evening to meet Rosalie, Lois and get a ride to a FREE CLAM BAKE!”
Honestly, I was sure that Laverne would remember.
At 4:25 p.m. Mom and I arrived at the front of the senior apartments,
we went to the desk and cancelled her dinner. We checked to see if
Lois and Laverne had also cancelled their dinners. This is “crucial”
when you live here, otherwise they show up at your apartment with
a makeshift dinner, knocking at your door! The very nice woman, we
“love” her the best of all the receptionists, Marian, checked each of
the names, somehow Lois and Laverne had remembered to cancel
their meals! (Lois, we weren’t too concerned with, she is “on the ball!”
At 4:35, Lois arrived and the doors whisked open to reveal my brother,
Rich, dressed up in a suit, with a nice dreas shirt and tie, too. He had
come from his teaching at Cleveland State, looking very handsome,
I may say. Lois was very flirtatious with Rich the whole night, she is an
above average looking woman who is very beautiful when she smiles
and glows. She started glowing when she had Rich talk to her. He
recognized her from sitting at a table nearby my Mom’s (when she used
to eat in the dining room more often.) We waited until around 5 p.m.
Then I went up to the desk and asked Marian to please call Laverne’s
telephone number. She did not answer the apartment one, but did
pick up her cell phone. She told Marian she was working on a crossword
puzzle, then asked how was she?
I could hear her, everyone speaks much louder on their cell phones
than needed! I asked to speak to her and Marian passed the phone.
I announced myself as Rosalie’s daughter and told her that her friend,
Rosalie, her other friend, Lois and my brother were ready to take her
to the Clam Bake!
Laverne, of course, had forgotten! She was happy, said she was dressed
for the dining room, would that be appropriate attire for the Clam Bake?
I told her I was heading up the hall and would meet her at the elevator,
that we “needed to go NOW!” I am not a yeller but am firm with the
elderly. I was much more quiet and soft-spoken in my forties, when I
first worked in activites at a nursing home. It took me all of a week to
get my “kind but firm voice” turned on a little louder than I used with
anyone under the age of sixty!
At the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, a band was playing what I term,
“blue grass” music which was very catchy and lively sounding. There were
people waiting in line, tickets in hand and many moving around within
the gymnasium turned into a dining room.
What wondrous aromas and scents were wafting through the air! All of
our senses were engaged, hearing the violin, the cellist, the guitarist and
singer, smelling barbecued chicken, clams, shrimp and sausages, along
with the other accompaniments to the meal, seeing a widely diverse
group of friendly people, chattering, calling out to one another, and
little ones weaving around, comfortably “knowing” everyone here.
I was looking forward to my final sense, TASTE, coming into action!
Let me tell you about the big bowls of clams, they were in plastic
woven nets that look like a white version of the bags you get onions
in. They were laid on top of two sausages and 8 shrimp.
Lois, Rich and I went to the kitchen area, stood in line and each of us
took two plates that included cole slaw, half ears of corn on the cob, a
barbecued leg quarter, french fries and baked beans.
We had decided while in line to carry 6 plates. This would allow someone
(Rich or Lois) to add another portion of whatever one desired more of! I
went over to the beverage table and brought back 4 cups of coffee.
One for each of the “lades” present, myself included. I brought the
various coffee ‘fixings’ over and took them back.
Let me tell you, Matt, the chef for the day is a professional chef and
caterer. The meal he prepared was as endless as you would want. The
taste was more delicious than any clams or shrimp I had ever eaten
This is saying a lot to give him credit for, since I had been a frequent
visitor, in my younger years, with a few trips back as an adult to all the
states leading to Massachusetts and back. I have eaten at quite a few
actual beach clam bakes! I spent my 16th summer in Rockport, Mass.,
working in my Great Uncle’s pharmacy and candy shop, too. My weekly
errand, after work, had included running down to get a fresh seafood of
some kind. Sometimes being given only $5 to buy a lobster on Bear Skin
This was 1970~ when money went far!
I cannot attest to Matt’s lobster baking or broiling skills, but his boiled
clams and shrimp dipped in butter sauce were “to die for!” I managed
to eat one bowlful, getting a baggie out of Mom’s purse.
Isn’t it amazing how well older people “fend for themselves?” My Mom
always has several baggies in her purse, along with a sundry of effects.
Lois and Laverne consumed all of their clams, Lois ate all of the rest of
the other foods, including getting up and bringing back another bowl
of clams! I was looking at her small frame, picturing how full she must
have been! Laverne, Mom and I “packed up” our chicken and sausages.
This was one of my favorite meals “of all time!” The atmosphere was
so pleasant and the windows in the gymnasium were opened, the back
door leading to the barbecue grills and the side door leading to the
parking lot. We all had sweaters on so did not get chilled at all.
Lois brought her purse out and asked Rich to give a donation of $10
to the church. Laverne asked Lois if she could borrow $10 and she
could donate it to the female priest who was going around, introducing
herself to all who were there. Lois quietly told me, “I don’t expect she
will remember this tomorrow?” I said, “Just give $10 and she won’t know
it is a twenty.”
Rich had purchased all of our tickets and I would have given him gas
money or a donation, but did not know how the week would progress.
It was only Sunday!
This story is out of sequence, but glad to share it with you!
Hope you got some chuckles out of those sweet little ladies, the way
Felton tells us daily his “chore” is to get their meal and any other little
bits and pieces I have shared.
Wish you could have all been there!