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Mohegan Sun and a "Friendship Social"

“We hail merry Autumn days,
when leaves are turning red;
Because they’re far more beautiful
than anyone has said.”
By Charles Dickens

Last Thursday, we joined the people from the Irish Pastoral Centre on a trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. It was an odd sensation to look through the window of the bus and see colored leaves on both sides of the “tunnel” as we wended our way south. I was a little disappointed that there were not more vivid red maple leaves on the trip. Just as we go off the bus, on Hancock Street at the end of the trip, we saw a wonderful red maple tree right across from St. Ann’s Church in Wollaston. We did not have to travel anywhere to see this gorgeous sight.

On Sun., Oct. 6, Hubby, pal Eileen Burke, and I drove to Florian Hall on a very rainy afternoon. Hubby dropped Eileen and me off at the door and ended up parking in the only available spot in the parking area, the last one. We entered the lobby and were greeted by Dennis Walsh, the organizer of the “Friendship Social,” which brings together those who are handicapped for a late afternoon of fun, food, and dancing. People may donate to the social; the suggested donation was $10 pp, if possible.

As we paid for our way in, I could hear the terrific music being played by our master DJ, “Gifted Fingers” Joe Peters. As we entered the main room, I saw Eileen Collins beckoning to us to join her. We also sat with Evie Dunne and Peg Gorman. Our longtime friend Dolly Farquharson was sitting at the next table with her friends. Daughter Sue came a little while later because she was doing schoolwork at home. Out from the kitchen came our terrific Florian waitress, Mary Ellen Cahill, so I knew that everything was under control in there. Mary Ellen had three excellent volunteer helpers, my friend and former neighbor, Elaine (Collyer) Monahan, and pals Irene Duff and Ann Marshall, who would help her serve the food. Hubby saw that there already was a big container of coffee so he scooted up to get two half cups of coffee to warm us on that rainy day.

The purpose of the social is to help handicapped people enjoy themselves. I looked on in wonder as some people were able to do “The Cha-Cha Slide,” which is wonderful to watch. A young man named Christopher got out of his wheelchair and stood on his head for a good amount of time. I saw Grace Barry helping the people with their food. I had a chance to chat with Grace’s husband Paul, who told me that all was going well in his school. We were all delighted to see Jill Baker, City Councillor Frank Baker’s aide (for seniors), come in and mingle with everyone. Jill said that she agreed with me that the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Wrentham is one of the best places to eat. She also told me she loves the gift shop at the restaurant, which has such a variety of gifts.

Then the food was brought out. As usual, Florian’s food was excellent. There were rolls with roast beef, ham and cheese, or turkey and there was lots of soda. There were all kinds of desserts. (I split a cupcake with Hubby.) I went over to tell our waitress Mary Ellen how good the food was. Everyone was well fed. Almost as soon as we ate, Tony Faunces from the Platters came into the hall. He grabbed the microphone and went out on the floor with the dancers. He had them singing along with him. (He still has a terrific voice.) Then DJ Joe played “Thriller,” Michael Jackson’s super hit. I did some of the hand movements to that tune while sitting in my chair.

Dennis Walsh came to the microphone and thanked everyone for coming on that rainy afternoon. He had already announced the date for the next social, Sun., June 8, 2014, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. He had quite a few sponsors to thank for the afternoon: the Utility Workers of American (Local 369), The Building and Construction Trades Council of Boston, Local 369 Retirees Group, Greenhills Bakery, Lopez, the Florist, the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester, the Menino Committee, and, of course, Florian Hall. If you would like more info or would like to help with the next social, call Dennis at 617-694-7990.

On a Saturday, a few weeks ago, Hubby and I drove to Keystone so that we could join others in attending a Health Day at UMass/Boston. Our friends Irene and Ann came along and Eileen Collins joined us as the city’s van came to ferry us to the Health Fair. We were delighted to have the ride, with our very pleasant driver, Gwen, because of all the construction going on and parking at the university at a premium.
When we arrived at UMass, we went to the third floor where there were booths set up all along the perimeter of the large room. We went around to all the different tables. One of them had a great deal of info on Alzheimer’s. There were also two firefighters who had several interesting booklets. One was “How to Prevent Falls.” The other was “Electrical Fire Safety.” I read the first one thoroughly while I was sitting down. To prevent falls, we seniors should exercise regularly; should take our time (I’m always hurrying.), and should clear the way (of electrical cords, books, magazines, shoes, clothing, and other clutter). The fourth recommendation is “Look out for yourself.” We should have our eyes checked yearly. We should also improve the lighting in our homes. We should turn on the lights before using the stairs. The fifth recommendation is to “Wipe up spilled liquids immediately.” We should use a non-slip bath mat in the tub and on shower floors. We should have “grab bars” in the tub area and even next to the toilet. The pamphlet also mentioned that seniors should be aware of uneven surfaces and use only rubber-backed scatter rugs. The seventh suggestion is to “Tread Carefully.” Stairways should be well lit and we should have handrails installed the entire length of the stairway. The final suggestion was labeled “Put your best foot forward.” It recommends that we wear sturdy, well-fitting shoes, with non-slip soles. “They are safer than high heels, thick-soled athletic shoes, slippers, or stocking feet.”

For the past few weeks, I have been watching Ch. 533 on Boston’s Comcast Cable. It is the Sounds of the Season Channel. For the first two weeks in October I listened to some music for Oktoberfest. Some of the music was in English, some in German. This last Saturday, when I turned to 533, there were all types of Halloween music. The channel also plays scary sounds. If your children are not too young, they probably will get a kick out of that channel.

I received a very interesting e-mail from Sister Paula Tinlin regarding my info, in last week’s column, that her family donated quite a few of the prizes that were offered on raffles at the annual Simon of Cyrene Breakfast at Venezia’s Restaurant a week ago Sunday. There were so many prizes that Sister Paula’s family hired a Rent-a-Truck to bring the prizes to the restaurant. Sister Peggy’s family won so many of these Tinlin donations that Sister Peggy Youngclaus, the head of the society, ended up using the same Rent-a-Truck to take the prizes to her home. One nice thing: the truck went right back to Sister Paula’s. It seems that Sister Paula and Sister Peggy live in the same community. Methinks there was still some collusion or “divine intervention” in picking the winners. Everyone in the restaurant laughed. (God bless the Youngclaus family for buying so many raffle tickets!)

I loved this saying that I found in a Building 19 ad: “Middle Age is when you’re faced with all kinds of temptations and you pick the one that gets you home by nine.”