Celebration Magazine Articles - June/July 2021

ROY & BESSIE LARGENT PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL SCOUTS

by RD Foster - Collin County History Museum - www.collincountyhistorymuseum.org

Roy Largent loved the game of baseball, and Bessie Largent loved Roy. Therefore, when Charles Comiskey, owner of the Chicago White Sox offered Roy the job of chief talent scout for his professional baseball team, Bessie encouraged him to take the job and became his constant traveling partner. Being a baseball scout for one of the elite professional clubs in the late 1920s and ‘30s, may have sounded glamorous, however, it was anything but. This was before air conditioning, and traveling over a million miles by automobile and staying in cheap small-town hotels was anything but pleasant. Spending uncountable days sitting on hard wooden bleachers at tiny ballparks in the hot summer sun of Texas, the Midwest and the South, was not an easy thing, but the Largents loved it. The husband and wife team were destined to put McKinney, Texas, on the national baseball map.


Roy began his career at McKinney High School where he coached baseball and sent four of his players, all pitchers, directly from high school to the professional leagues. McKinney High didn’t have a team mascot name and he thought it would be beneficial to have one. At the start of the 1923 baseball season, Roy proposed a contest to come up with a name that would forever be the symbol of the school. After numerous entries were submitted, the name “Lions” was selected, and ever since the McKinney Lions have maintained a reputation of high caliber athletics and sportsmanship. Roy’s Lions that year would go undefeated and win the unofficial Texas State Baseball Championship.
In April 1929, Roy brought the entire White Sox team to McKinney, where thirty players and six sportswriters from Chicago, were honored at a banquet by the local Rotary Club. He even arranged a game on the MHS diamond between the Chicago White Sox and the McKinney High School Lions, something unheard of in the pro ranks. The game featured George Cox a former Lion star now with the Sox, against his brother Vernon, a promising young pitcher for the Lions. The White Sox won 20-0, not surprisingly.


Comiskey quickly learned that Bessie had just as good an eye for talent as Roy, and she became the first salaried lady scout in professional baseball  history. From 1925 until Roy passed away in 1943, he and Bessie traveled extensively in search of rookie talent with the abilities to play for the White Sox. The duo would sign over 150 players during this time. Even after Roy’s death, Bessie worked for the team for another two years, until her health problems ended a brilliant career. 


The Sporting News said in 1933 that the Largents have “the eyes and judgment of a man; the cleverness and intuition of a woman.” Bessie was directly credited for signing Hall-Of Fame shortstop Luke Appling, a seven-time All-Star and twice batting champion. But her most famous signee was Monty Stratton, who had pitched for Greenville High against arch-rival McKinney High many times during his career. But his talent became apparent when she saw the future big-leaguer playing for the Van Alstyne Grays, a semi-pro team in the small Grayson County town just north of McKinney. Stratton would go on to become an All-Star pitcher for the Sox, but that wasn’t what made him famous. His fame would come after a tragic hunting accident. 


During the off season in 1938 he and a friend were rabbit hunting on his family farm near Greenville, when a shotgun accidentally discharged hitting him in the right leg. The limb had to be amputated and replaced with a wooden prosthetic leg. One would think losing a leg would be the end of a career for a professional athlete. But that didn’t stop Monty from pursuing his ambition. After an eight-year layoff, he would come back and pitch in the minor leagues from 1946 until 1953, posting a remarkable record of wins for a man with a wooden leg. His incredible story was told in the 1949 Academy Award winning movie “The Stratton Story” starring James Stewart. However, in the movie, for dramatic  purposes, the person who signed him was not the first lady scout in professional baseball, but “a washed-out former catcher turned scout”.  


Bessie Hamilton Largent, who broke ground in an all-male dominated industry, lived her entire life in the family home on North Church Street in McKinney. She died there in 1958 at the age of 76 and is buried next to Roy at Pecan Grove Cemetery in their hometown.

A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT TWIRL FUN

by: Jeannie Strain, Director 

Back in November of 2015, I picked up my older sister, Barbara Prudhomme, for our weekly get-together. Barbara lived alone, and I noticed she needed to get a little exercise. Since I had taught Baton Twirling since I was 15 years old, I thought to myself, “Well, we can just Twirl.”
I have always loved to twirl. For 8 decades, I’ve twirled and twirled and twirled. You could say it makes me happy, but I’m just a happy person. But I do love to twirl!


I had been teaching Sue Ellen Tucker Roberts a routine for Miss Texas Senior America Competition at that time at my daughter LeeAnn’s dance studio in Rockwall, C K Studio, so Barbara and I were about to use the space.  Barbara loved it, as did I. While we were there, we got a call that our friend Debbie Goodwin was coming by the studio to pick up a baton for her granddaughter, so she decided to join in. and when my dear friend Debbi Wright found out what Debbie Goodwin was doing, Debbie W joined right on in. In fact, I had judged Debbie Wright as a tween, and later, she went to teach at my studio, Calico Kids in Garland.  I look around the studio that day and realized something good was happening. Shortly after, we were invited to perform at Sr. Citizen Care Centers and festivals for area towns. 


Our 60+ twirling group took the name Twirl Fun.  Since we are all active in our lives and communities, we are all active in creating the routines. From the choice of appropriate music, the contribution of steps, baton tricks, or choreography, we are all in it together. Our current members include Jeannie Strain, Linda Hill Welchel, Debbie Wright, Debbie Goodwin, Deanna Venable, Sackett, Linda Palmer Teel, Angelia Mugovero, Barbara Hoggan, Evie Harper, Anderson, Jill Rumbley Beam, Kay Linback, Donna Tyler Toups, Gina Pounders, Henderson, Sue Ellen Tucker Roberts.


We hope we get to see you at one of our performances and that our twirling brings you as much happiness as it brings us.

DID MOM LOCK THE FRONT DOOR?

by Kimberly Scarlett - www.awarecarenetwork.com

Did Mom lock the front door before going to bed? How has she been eating? Has she been staying active? Those and other questions have become more common for children of aging parents.


“While she’s young at heart, she’s not as young as she used to be, and I start to worry about her,” said Monique, whose best friend owns Aware Care Network.


She’s one of millions of Americans who balance caring for aging parents with raising their own children, working full-time jobs and fulfilling other obligations. In 2020, one in five Americans aged to 65 or older. And nearly 90 percent of people that age say they want to stay in their homes as long as possible.


That’s why Kim Scarlett launched Aware Care Network, a new service to give caregivers peace of mind and allow aging parents to live independently. It uses non-intrusive sensors and notifications to inform loved ones of the parent’s daily activities, such as movement or health related patterns.


The service also gives elders access to the ease and convenience of the latest smart home technology. It allows them to use voice commands to turn on the lights, answer the door or adjust the thermostat without getting up.


“We looked at several options, and we felt strongly that we didn’t want to use wearable devices or cameras,” said Dr Gregg, who wanted technology to keep tabs on her mother. “We want our mother to feel very independent. We just need to know she’s still safe and secure when we’re not there.”


With GrandCare, customers buy the products and sensors. The contract monitoring service costs average $1 or $2 per day.
Caregivers and their parents can track the data from the sensors using an online dashboard or mobile app and sign up to receive customized notifications via the phone, text or email. The sensors can show whether an aging parent opened the medicine cabinet or refrigerator that day, and their activity levels.


The system learns the parent’s daily routines and parameters are set so it can notify loved ones of abnormal activity.
“Right after the installation, I started checking the app often, but I realized quickly that I didn’t need to do that — the system was smarter than me,” said Dr. Gregg. “It understood what my mom’s average levels of activity were and could tell me when something seemed a little off.”


Meanwhile, all of the smart home tech — including an Amazon Echo voice assistant and smart doorbell, lights, locks and thermostat — is making things easier and more convenient for her mother.


“I really, really like the technology,” she said.


The GrandCare system and Alexa smart hub care are available throughout the DFW metroplex

BOOK REVIEW: THE BOYS OF SUMMER 
A  GREAT  FATHER'S  DAY  GIFT  FOR  BASEBALL  LOVERS 

The Boys of Summer (1972) is a non-fiction baseball book by American sports reporter Roger Kahn. In part a memoir of Kahn’s childhood as a fanatical baseball fan and his career as a sports reporter, the book focuses on the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers team of 1952-1953. The book’s final third becomes a meditation on time and aging as Kahn investigates the subsequent lives of the Dodgers’ star players: Clem Labine, George Shuba, Carl Erskine, Andy Pafko, Joe Black, Preacher Roe, Pee Wee Reese, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Billy Cox, and the legendary Jackie Robinson.


Kahn begins his story with his own childhood in Brooklyn. His obsession with baseball—and with the Dodgers in particular—was fuelled by his sports-loving father, to the despair of his mother, a classicist. The great crisis of Kahn’s childhood, the “summer of tragedy” in his eleventh year, was the realization that he would “never be good enough for the Dodgers.”


Rather than baseball, Kahn’s talents lay in writing, and in 1948, he took a job as a copy boy with the New York Herald Tribune. Slowly, Kahn worked his way up through the paper’s ranks, honing his craft as a writer and learning from the senior sports reporters. The hours were long, the headlines tight, and the traveling constant, but Kahn recognized that talent would take him only so far without dedication to his craft. Kahn does not labor the point, but during the same years, the young players who would eventually comprise the 1952-1953 Dodgers team were each undergoing a similar unheralded apprenticeship, rising through the ranks of the sport.


By 1952, Kahn—still a Dodgers fanatic—landed his dream gig, as a beat reporter for the Tribune on his favorite team. In the Dodgers’ clubhouse, he sat and watched the players, observing their characters and moods close up. Kahn had reached the Major League of his profession. In The Boys of Summer, he describes those years in glowing nostalgic detail, painting intimate portraits of the Dodgers stars both on field and in the clubhouse.


While the Dodgers would go on to win the World Series in 1955, during the years of Kahn’s tenure as a beat reporter, the team twice lost the World Series to the Yankees. For Kahn, this only binds him more closely to the team he reported on: “You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat.” On the field and off, the most important story to emerge from the ’52-’53 Dodgers was that of Jackie Robinson—and Robinson’s story is certainly the most enduring aspect of the team’s legacy.


In 1947, Robinson “broke the color barrier,” becoming the first African-American player to debut in an MLB game, previously segregated by unofficial “gentleman’s agreement.” Kahn exposes every detail of the prejudice faced by Robinson and the other black players who followed in his footsteps. Robinson was frequently prevented from staying in the same hotel or traveling on the same bus as his white teammates. He endured a daily litany of abuse from opposition fans and players and, more stingingly, from the Dodgers’ own “fans,” and sometimes even from teammates.


Kahn is also frank about his own failures as a reporter. When Robinson accused the St. Louis Cardinals’ players of racial abuse, Kahn accepted Cardinals manager Ed Stankey’s denial. Kahn’s subsequent article presented a balanced account, on the fence about whether the abuse happened or not. Later he realized that he had been “played…for a fool,” and he attempted to make amends through more accurate reporting on the abuse Robinson faced. This time he was thwarted by his own editor: “to Kahn: Herald Tribune will not be a sounding board for Jackie Robinson. Write baseball, not race relations. Story killed.”


The last third of the book considers the ongoing story of the Dodgers. Only a few years after their eventual World Series triumph in ’55, the Dodgers decamped to the West Coast, and the Giants went with them. Ebbets Field—the altar of Kahn’s holiest boyhood memories—was replaced by blank, redbrick buildings.


Twenty years after the end of the ’53 season, Kahn travels to meet the surviving members of the team. One—Gil Hodges—is the manager of the Mets. Robinson is ill (he would die later the same year). The rest of the team has returned to civilian life. Kahn finds them unwilling to indulge in nostalgia or self-importance. On the contrary, Clem Labine chiefly recalls how much he missed his family while he was on the road. George Shuba stresses that it was grueling discipline and hard work—not talent—that made him and his teammates what they were. Andy Pafko is still hurt by the memory of being traded, while Carl Furillo sued the “lousy bastards” who owned the Dodgers and ended up blackballed by the baseball fraternity. The men are getting old and suffering the ravages of time. Gil Hodges has a heart condition. Clem Labine’s son has been wounded in the Vietnam War.


The Boys of Summer is not only a baseball book, but also a reflection on heroism and mortality. A 2011 list of the most important baseball books ever written, published in the L.A. Times, called it “perhaps the most celebrated baseball book of the last 50 years.” Other critics have accused it of excessive sentimentality. The book’s title refers to a line by poet Dylan Thomas: “the boys of summer in their ruin.”

NUTRITION AND YOU:
HOW FOOD CAN HELP YOU LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE.

by  Holiday Retirement -  www.holidayseniorliving.com

As we age, our bodies begin to need more of certain types of nutrients and vitamins in order to function well. Unfortunately, it’s very common for older adults to overlook the importance of good nutrition and a balanced diet, which can lead to a variety of both physical and mental health concerns. Estimates show around 16% of adults aged 65 or older eat fewer than 1,000 calories per day (representing a risk for malnutrition), and up to half of hospitalized seniors are malnourished. 


It’s been reported that seniors develop a smaller appetite because they don’t require as many calories, but they still require the same amount of nutrients found in larger servings, if not more. This creates a puzzle — how do seniors get the nutrients they need without feeling completely overstuffed?


We spoke with a culinary team to solve this puzzle — to meet the specific dietary needs of all seniors so they can live their best lives. These chefs work with dieticians to create meals that are not only delicious, but also healthy and full of the nutrients needed for mental and physical wellbeing in older adults.


Whether you’re currently living in a retirement community or thinking of transitioning into one, your nutritional needs as a senior are of utmost importance. The following will provide an overview of how our bodies change in regard to dietary needs, what we need to eat, and how we can do it.


The primary factors that cause elderly nutrition issues include:
•  People become less active in older age, which slows the metabolism and means fewer calories are needed. Elderly people begin to eat less, but they may not receive adequate nutrients.
•  The body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients decreases as a person ages.
•  Health conditions and medications often affect nutrient requirements.
•  Changes in taste, smell, and appetite can lead seniors to limit their food intake and eat healthy foods less often.

 

For these reasons, it’s especially important for seniors to eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish. These foods contain high amounts of protein, vitamin D, calcium, and B12 vitamins, which are among the most important nutrients that aging adults need but often lack in their diets. Calcium promotes bone health, and vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium better. Vitamin B12 promotes healthy brain function and creates red blood cells, and protein helps prevent the loss of strength and muscle mass. Other important nutrients include potassium, magnesium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Culinary Director at Holiday Retirement Sean Danahy, RD, LDN, said, “Most people know that vitamin D is associated with bone health, development, and aging, but fewer are familiar with its impact on mood regulation and the immune response.” That’s just one example of how to boost your nutrition. 


Tips for Senior Nutrition


Changing something like your eating habits can often be easier said than done, so it’s recommended to gradually introduce new items into your meals, try new approaches, and take small steps toward a healthier diet.


Studies have shown that people deficient in vitamins, such as D, are at a higher risk of developing infections and experiencing more severe symptoms associated with colds, flus, and a variety of other complications like muscle pain and weakness. Inadequate amounts of vitamin D may also contribute to poorer cognitive functioning, sleep quality, and mood, especially during winter months when seasonal affective depression (SAD) is prevalent.


Danahy also says, “We have osteoporosis, and we have so many different issues related to frailty and bone density. So, for seniors, getting that vitamin D that increases how much calcium and phosphorus we absorb is so important.”


Nutrition is vital — you deserve to live life healthy and happy — and it starts with the food that fuels you. 

CAROL'S CORNER: GET YOUR GOOD NEWS HERE!
7 in 10 Americans Agree That 2020 Made Them a Better Person – Here’s How

As we age, our bodies begin to need more of certain types of nutrients and vitamins in order to function well. Unfortunately, it’s very common for older adults to overlook the importance of good nutrition and a balanced diet, which can lead to a variety of both physical and mental health concerns. Estimates show around 16% of adults aged 65 or older eat fewer than 1,000 calories per day (representing a risk for malnutrition), and up to half of hospitalized seniors are malnourished. 


It’s been reported that seniors develop a smaller appetite because they don’t require as many calories, but they still require the same amount of nutrients found in larger servings, if not more. This creates a puzzle — how do seniors get the nutrients they need without feeling completely overstuffed?


We spoke with a culinary team to solve this puzzle — to meet the specific dietary needs of all seniors so they can live their best lives. These chefs work with dieticians to create meals that are not only delicious, but also healthy and full of the nutrients needed for mental and physical wellbeing in older adults.


Whether you’re currently living in a retirement community or thinking of transitioning into one, your nutritional needs as a senior are of utmost importance. The following will provide an overview of how our bodies change in regard to dietary needs, what we need to eat, and how we can do it.


The primary factors that cause elderly nutrition issues include:
•  People become less active in older age, which slows the metabolism and means fewer calories are needed. Elderly people begin to eat less, but they may not receive adequate nutrients.
•  The body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients decreases as a person ages.
•  Health conditions and medications often affect nutrient requirements.
•  Changes in taste, smell, and appetite can lead seniors to limit their food intake and eat healthy foods less often.

 

For these reasons, it’s especially important for seniors to eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish. These foods contain high amounts of protein, vitamin D, calcium, and B12 vitamins, which are among the most important nutrients that aging adults need but often lack in their diets. Calcium promotes bone health, and vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium better. Vitamin B12 promotes healthy brain function and creates red blood cells, and protein helps prevent the loss of strength and muscle mass. Other important nutrients include potassium, magnesium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Culinary Director at Holiday Retirement Sean Danahy, RD, LDN, said, “Most people know that vitamin D is associated with bone health, development, and aging, but fewer are familiar with its impact on mood regulation and the immune response.” That’s just one example of how to boost your nutrition. 


Tips for Senior Nutrition


Changing something like your eating habits can often be easier said than done, so it’s recommended to gradually introduce new items into your meals, try new approaches, and take small steps toward a healthier diet.


Studies have shown that people deficient in vitamins, such as D, are at a higher risk of developing infections and experiencing more severe symptoms associated with colds, flus, and a variety of other complications like muscle pain and weakness. Inadequate amounts of vitamin D may also contribute to poorer cognitive functioning, sleep quality, and mood, especially during winter months when seasonal affective depression (SAD) is prevalent.


Danahy also says, “We have osteoporosis, and we have so many different issues related to frailty and bone density. So, for seniors, getting that vitamin D that increases how much calcium and phosphorus we absorb is so important.”


Nutrition is vital — you deserve to live life healthy and happy — and it starts with the food that fuels you. 

GUY FIERI: LEARING FROM HIS FATHER 

by Guy Fieri from Guideposts May 7, 2010

Who’s my greatest inspiration?


No, it’s not a chef, though I’ve met some awesome cooks road-tripping across the country…you know, the ones at mom-and-pop joints who serve up crazy-good food. And sure, there are football players and movie stars who make me think, Wow, he’s a cool guy.
But real greatness? That I find closer to home. My biggest inspiration, the best role model this Guy could ever hope for…it’s my dad, hands down.


I grew up in Ferndale, California, a little dairy town north of San Francisco with a historic Main Street, and quaint Victorian houses. We moved there in the early seventies—the last stop in a meandering migration from Columbus, Ohio.


My parents might’ve looked like hippies with their long hair and green van, but they were old school when it came to values. They were big on hard work, responsibility, persistence. And they believed that if you’d been given a dream, it was worth exploring.
They did it themselves, opening a country-western clothing store in town, even though neither of them had experience in retail. Mom had been a teacher and dental assistant. Dad had served in the submarine corps.


I loved hearing stories from his Navy days and colorful episodes from his own growing-up years in coal-mining country.
“Don’t let the specifics get in the way of a good story,” Dad likes to say.


My parents bought an old house in Ferndale. Dad fixed it up, learning as he went. He put my sister and me to work too. Dad loves to tell the story of the time we built a deck. He’d tacked all the boards in place. They just needed to be nailed off.


That was my job. I had my hammer and I was pounding big 16-penny nails into the wood. Sure, I was only six, but Dad had taught me well—those nails were going in straight!


Some family friends came over for dinner and saw me. “What the heck is Guy doing?” they asked my dad.


“Finishing off the deck.”


“But, Jim, there’s like a thousand nails he’s got to put in!”


Dad shrugged. “He’s got all weekend.”


It wasn’t child labor. It was just how we did things. We kept cows, pigs and horses, and my sister and I had chores. Mine were bringing in firewood and feeding the animals every night. There was a huge trough for watering the horses. It took forever to fill.


One night I got tired of waiting and turned off the water before the trough was totally full. I went back inside and crawled into bed. Guess who woke me? Dad. “You get out there and water those horses.”


“I did,” I said weakly.


“You know what I mean, son. Go finish what you started.” I went. There was no skating by. Do a job once and do it right. Dad had no tolerance for laziness.


That included mental laziness. He always urged us to think for ourselves. “I don’t know” was not an acceptable answer. I remember one day we were driving to the dump. I was staring at a grassy field, zoning out. “What are you thinking?” Dad asked.


“I don’t know. Nothing, I guess.”


“That’s ridiculous. There’s no way you’re not thinking something.”


“Well, I was wondering, what happens to that grass? It grows and grows. Where does it all go?” What followed was a discussion about dairy farming and how much grass cattle go through.


To this day, I’m on a quest for knowledge. You can learn so much just by asking people about what they do.


Don’t be afraid to ask, that’s what Dad taught me. Don’t be afraid to try either, especially when it comes to chasing your dreams. You’ve got to know what it takes to make them come true, right? For instance, there was a time I wanted to be in the rodeo. I wanted to ride bulls.


“You want to be a bull rider, you’ve got to practice,” Dad said. “I’ve got it set up. Go down to Ron Queen’s Saturday morning.” Ron was a horse trainer who had a bunch of young bulls. Early that Saturday I put on my cowboy boots and hat and biked the five miles to Ron’s.
“I’m ready,” I told Ron. He tied a rope around a bull and loaded it into the bucking chute. I jumped on its back. Right away I got bucked off. I tried again. Same story.


“Put some rosin on the rope,” Ron said. “You’ll get a better grip.” I held on tight. The bull came out of the chute and made such a racket it riled up a cattle dog in someone’s pickup. The dog leapt out of the truck, over the fence and bit the bull in the nose.


The bull freaked out and sent me flying. My arm got hung up in the rope. I did a face plant on a rock, busted my lip. Then the dog bit me in the back of my leg!


“Gonna ride one more time?” Ron asked.


I got to my feet, dazed. My right arm was killing me. “Sure,” I said. My parents didn’t raise me to give up as soon as the going got tough. I got back on that bull and held on with my left hand.


This time I managed to stay put for eight seconds (you’ve got to stay mounted that long for your ride to count). I never did it again.


Never needed to. I had other dreams to explore. If it weren’t for my dad I would never have become an entrepreneur or had the guts to start my own restaurants. My very first business was a lemonade stand.


I had it down—sixty-nine cents for the mix, a five-gallon jug of water, ice, cups and a busy corner on Main Street.


Then one year our family went skiing in Squaw Valley and I discovered something more exciting than lemonade. I found a guy at the lodge who sold hot pretzels. Big, salty New York-style pretzels slathered in mustard.


I spent all my lunch money on ’em. Dad couldn’t believe it. “That’s all you ate? Pretzels?”


“Yeah, ten of them!”


“That good, huh?” Dad said. “Want to open a pretzel business back home?”


“How do I do that?”


“Ask the guy where he gets his pretzels. Get the address.”


I ran to the pretzel cart. “Excuse me, sir,” I said. “I really like your pretzels. Can you tell me where you get them?”


The man stared at me. “Are you kidding? So you can sell ’em next to me?”


“But I don’t want to sell them here, just maybe at home,” I tried to explain. “I mean, I’m only eleven.”


“Not a chance, kid,” he laughed. “It’s a trade secret.” I was crushed. I went to my dad and told him what happened.


I should’ve known Dad wouldn’t look at a problem without coming up with at least one solution. “Go and watch him,” he said. “Wait till he fills up that cart and see what he does with the box the pretzels come in.”


I sat there, watching and waiting, for three hours. Finally I saw the pretzel man toss a box in the trash. I did a Dumpster dive and dug it out.
I went running proudly to Dad like a dog with a bird. He tore off the address and we chucked the rest of the box.


Back home he helped me write a letter to the pretzel company. We got a three-wheeler from Goodwill. After school, I met Dad at his buddy’s wood shop and we built a pretzel cart. I painted it yellow.


“What do you want to call it?” Dad asked. “The Awesome Pretzel Cart,” I decided. That summer at the town fair I set up my cart and sold hot pretzels. I made a thousand bucks. A sixth grader with his own business. It was awesome!


I’ve heard it said that what the mind can conceive, man can achieve. That’s Dad in a nutshell. Everything I’ve ever done, he’s been there encouraging me, working with me to figure things out and, yes, sometimes kicking me in the rear.


Now I’m a father myself, with two boys, Hunter, 13, and Ryder, four. My parents live next door, and the boys spend a lot of time with their grandfather—they call him Jamps.


Still, I like to think they’ve got a pretty good role model right at home. The other day Hunter and I were playing “You wanna bet?” As in “You wanna bet why they have three awnings outside that store?” My way of getting my son to figure things out, to think for himself.
“What do you mean you have no clue?” I said. “I’m not taking that for an answer.”


“You know what, Dad?” Hunter said. “You’re just like Jamps.” Did I say I’m a good role model for my sons? That’s because I was blessed with the best!tight. The bull came out of the chute and made such a racket it riled up a cattle dog in someone’s pickup. The dog leapt out of the truck, over the fence and bit the bull in the nose.


The bull freaked out and sent me flying. My arm got hung up in the rope. I did a face plant on a rock, busted my lip. Then the dog bit me in the back of my leg!


“Gonna ride one more time?” Ron asked.


I got to my feet, dazed. My right arm was killing me. “Sure,” I said. My parents didn’t raise me to give up as soon as the going got tough. I got back on that bull and held on with my left hand.


This time I managed to stay put for eight seconds (you’ve got to stay mounted that long for your ride to count). I never did it again.


Never needed to. I had other dreams to explore. If it weren’t for my dad I would never have become an entrepreneur or had the guts to start my own restaurants. My very first business was a lemonade stand.


I had it down—sixty-nine cents for the mix, a five-gallon jug of water, ice, cups and a busy corner on Main Street.


Then one year our family went skiing in Squaw Valley and I discovered something more exciting than lemonade. I found a guy at the lodge who sold hot pretzels. Big, salty New York-style pretzels slathered in mustard.


I spent all my lunch money on ’em. Dad couldn’t believe it. “That’s all you ate? Pretzels?” “Yeah, ten of them!” “That good, huh?” Dad said. “Want to open a pretzel business back home?” “How do I do that?” “Ask the guy where he gets his pretzels. Get the address.”


I ran to the pretzel cart. “Excuse me, sir,” I said. “I really like your pretzels. Can you tell me where you get them?” The man stared at me. “Are you kidding? So you can sell ’em next to me?”


“But I don’t want to sell them here, just maybe at home,” I tried to explain. “I mean, I’m only eleven.”


“Not a chance, kid,” he laughed. “It’s a trade secret.” I was crushed. I went to my dad and told him what happened.


I should’ve known Dad wouldn’t look at a problem without coming up with at least one solution. “Go and watch him,” he said. “Wait till he fills up that cart and see what he does with the box the pretzels come in.”


I sat there, watching and waiting, for three hours. Finally I saw the pretzel man toss a box in the trash. I did a Dumpster dive and dug it out.
I went running proudly to Dad like a dog with a bird. He tore off the address and we chucked the rest of the box.


Back home he helped me write a letter to the pretzel company. We got a three-wheeler from Goodwill. After school, I met Dad at his buddy’s wood shop and we built a pretzel cart. I painted it yellow.


“What do you want to call it?” Dad asked. “The Awesome Pretzel Cart,” I decided. That summer at the town fair I set up my cart and sold hot pretzels. I made a thousand bucks. A sixth grader with his own business. It was awesome!


I’ve heard it said that what the mind can conceive, man can achieve. That’s Dad in a nutshell. Everything I’ve ever done, he’s been there encouraging me, working with me to figure things out and, yes, sometimes kicking me in the rear.


Now I’m a father myself, with two boys, Hunter, 13, and Ryder, four. My parents live next door, and the boys spend a lot of time with their grandfather—they call him Jamps.


Still, I like to think they’ve got a pretty good role model right at home. The other day Hunter and I were playing “You wanna bet?” As in “You wanna bet why they have three awnings outside that store?” My way of getting my son to figure things out, to think for himself.
“What do you mean you have no clue?” I said. “I’m not taking that for an answer.”


“You know what, Dad?” Hunter said. “You’re just like Jamps.” Did I say I’m a good role model for my sons? That’s because I was blessed with the best!•

2021 SPECTACULAR FOLLIES 

by Stacy Allyn Dominguez - The Spectacular Follies  www.spectacularfollies.com

After a year away from the stage, the 2021 Spectacular Follies is returning to the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts this September for its 12th big season.  With a talented cast of entertainers over the age of 55, the Spectacular Follies is coming back to life with an all-new, all-live, on-stage show, “Return to the 50s!”, featuring the music, dancing and comedy of 1950s. Paying a nostalgic tribute to hula hoops, poodle skirts, bobby sox, 45 rpm records and television sets with only three channels, the audience will be transported to these glory days and will be singing along and "rocking around the clock" as the cast recreates the energy of American Bandstand -- with all your favorite Top 40 hit songs.


The 1950's were a time of renewal and the music of the decade both reflected the cultural changes that were happening while still holding on to the norms of the past. After World War II, the United States was ready to embark on a musical journey that would change the face of music for decades to come. Traditional pop and country music clung to the past with old standards remaining popular in the early part of the decade but mid-decade Rhythm & Blues (R&B) and Rock 'n' Roll rose to prominence and enjoyed success, paving the way for today’s music. The 50s decade was a time of innovation that helped to influence everything that we listen to on the radio today.


Musical stars like Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, and Pat Boone led the early fifties with tuneful and light hearted music but the younger generation felt left out of this genre and looked toward sounds that spoke to their younger age. This led to the beginnings of Rock and Roll featuring new voices like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and many more.  Following on their footsteps came the wonderful groups who introduced Rhythm & Blues to a new generation of listeners. Groups like Billy Haley & the Comets and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers gave the younger generation a voice of their own. 


The Follies is not a senior amateur show, our cast of talented performers come from many different professional backgrounds such as Las Vegas, Broadway, Hollywood and other places across the country and all enjoy performing and showing their talents to other seniors in the area.  


In 2008 Ned Startzel and Mark Carroll, two former Dallas showmen, came up with an idea to stage a senior showcase to highlight the talents of local seniors who love live theater and wanted to continue to perform. The Spectacular Follies debuted on stage at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts and was an instant success and has become a yearly theatrical event and is celebrating its 12th year entertaining the Dallas Metroplex.


Featuring a cast of professional entertainers, the Follies presents dancers, vocalists, comedians and the highlight of the Follies, the famous Follies Showgirls, who appear in lavish costumes with over-the-top feather headdresses to the delight of the audience. Young and old, the Follies offers something for everyone to enjoy.


Once again, The Follies will present a patriotic tribute to America honoring our military veterans with song, dance and flag waving.
The Spectacular Follies entertains hundreds of senior aged audience members at the daily matinees for an afternoon of fun and a chance to relive the days of live theater.  The mix of seniors, middle aged and young children make the Follies a true wholesome family destination that everyone can share together. 


The Spectacular Follies is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the traditions and legacy of the American performing arts for future generations, provide community outreach that inspires all age groups, educate by example and reinforce the vibrancy of seniors by presenting high quality performances with senior entertainers 55 and older.  Each cast member lives up to this mission with every performance.  


The Follies is directed and choreographed by DeeAnne Meece. Dee Anne is from Dallas and is an accomplished singer and actress and before joining forces with the Follies, has performed with many celebrities, such as Bob Hope, Dolly Parton, Larry Gatlin, B.J. Thomas, Johnny Cash, Glenn Campbell, Jimmy Dean, Tommy Tune, and Sandy Duncan to name a few. 


The Follies will run 5 performances at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts from Thursday, September 16 through Sunday, September 19 with matinees daily at 2pm.  There will also be an evening show on Saturday, September 18 at 7pm.  


The Spectacular Follies tickets are currently on sale at the Eisemann Theater Box Office (www.eisemanncenter.com ) or by phone, 972-744-4650 ext. 4.  Group discounts are available.  Visit our website www.spectacularfollies.com for more information on the Follies. 


For additional information, please contact Mary Dowling at 214-808-2944.

EASING THE TRANSITION TO SENIOR LIVING

by Lori Williams - Lori Williams Senior Services - www.loriwilliams-seniorservices.com

If you’re like most people, considering a move to a senior living community can be a difficult and emotional decision. You have probably lived in your house for 30+ years, accumulating a lifetime of treasures and memories. Maybe you’ve reached the point where maintaining your home has become a burden, physically and/or financially. You may be tired of cooking and cleaning or you are feeling lonely and isolated. The thought of downsizing is appealing, BUT you look around at all of your stuff and feel overwhelmed by the thought of all the work it will take to move. You decide to do a little research on your own, so you google senior living communities, and are inundated with a plethora of choices: independent living vs assisted living…all meals included vs optional meals…full kitchen vs kitchenette…and so on. Now, your head is spinning, so you turn off your computer and channel your inner Scarlett O’Hara saying, “I won’t think about that now, I’ll think about it tomorrow.”  Sound familiar? 


This is a scenario that I have heard countless times. What most people don’t know, is that they don’t have to do this alone. There is a service available to help guide you through the confusing maze of senior living. Senior placement services, also known as senior referral services are available on both the local and national level. These services have the scoop on all of the senior communities, and use that information to match you with the community that fits your unique needs, budget and geographic location. Best of all, this service is free to you. 


As the owner of a local senior placement service, serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I have a network of resources that I work with to create a seamless transition for my clients into senior living. Downsizing can be a bit like putting a puzzle together, and some moves are more complex than others.  A few months ago, I worked with a client, “Bob” an 84 year old widower, living alone in his home. Still independent, Bob was lonely and tired of eating out – he wanted home cooked meals and friends. Both of his kids lived out of state, and he felt completely overwhelmed at the thought of moving. He told me several times, “Lori, I’m not a young man. I can’t pack up and move everything by myself.” I assured him, that I would stay with him every step of the way, and would connect him with the right people. Together we found a senior community that checked off all of the items on his list: 3 home cooked meals each day, large two bedroom apartment and friendly residents. Next, I connected him with a realtor who specializes in working with seniors. With her help, we assembled a dream team consisting of packers, movers and estate sale professionals. Bob was amazed that the packing/moving service, took the time to get a floorplan of his new apartment, and helped him figure out which items to move and how to best fit them into his new home. I recently checked in with Bob and  he told me that he still can’t believe how easy the process was, and he wishes he had done it sooner. He’s very happy in his new home and even has a new lady friend!


Maybe you are like Bob and need help downsizing from your home to Independent Living, or you or a loved one may have had a recent change in health/mobility and need to find a community that provides a higher level of care, such as assisted living or memory care. Your local senior placement service, can guide you to the communities and services that fit your needs. There is no reason for you to try to figure this out on your own, when there are professionals only a phone call away. There is no need to wait until tomorrow, when you can get started TODAY! •


Lori Williams is the owner of the senior placement service, Lori Williams-Senior Services, LLC serving all of Dallas/Fort Worth. She is also the host of the podcast, Aging in Style with Lori Williams. Lori has a Bachelor in Science, Marketing degree from Louisiana State University and she is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP). Her business was voted Best of Denton County 2019 and 2020.

UNMASKED! A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

by  Jennifer Lade

The newest show to burst into retirement and senior communities across the metroplex is the delightful coproduction of two of the best performers that Dallas has to offer. Brad Ackland and Ruby Weston have combined their talents with the new “Unmasked!”; an aptly named show featuring a wonderful collection of favorite songs delivered in a playful and engaging format.


They describe it as a conversation with music, although it’s fair to say that it’s mostly music. However, the songs are a vehicle to discuss some of the different themes that have dominated the ‘era of Covid’that we are all emerging from.


Both these stars are unique in talent, personality and style. Ruby, whom WFAA News describes as a having a “soaring voice”, captivates her audiences with a style reminiscent of Billie Holliday or Ella Fitzgerald, without betraying that she is classically trained as an opera singer. Brad, having a delightfully rich timbre, croons into the hearts of his audiences with his charming Australian personality.
The Dallas Morning News labeled him as the ‘Michael Buble of the silver circuit”, and it’s clear to see why. Together, they create a synergy that is rarely seen, and the reviews coming out from their shows isnothing short of outstanding.


The concept of “Unmasked!” was borne from conversations Ruby and Brad had during the pandemic.


They had been introduced to one another by Marty Ruiz in 2019, and they both knew immediately that they had wanted to do a show together.


“Covid came in like a thief in the night and took our way of life with it,” says Ruby. “Long lines, online shopping, social distancing, seclusion, and wearing masks became the norm. This was something we wanted to do reassure our audiences that we are moving forward, and getting back to normal.”


Brad described the impact of Covid on his life as well. “As performers, we pretty much lost all our work when Covid hit. It was a tough time for everyone. I was lucky that I was able to continue performing as an employee for one of the communities here in Dallas. It gave me a real insight into life within a retirement community during Covid.”


The impact of Covid restrictions hit our senior communities the hardest in so many different ways. Most significantly of course by the loss of life and the impact of the actual virus itself. But also the loss of freedoms, the isolation, and the onerous but necessary preventative health measures such as masks and social distancing that have more often than not paved the way for depression, despondency, and despair.


Which is why, as vaccinated communities across the metroplex lift their Covid restrictions, “Unmasked!” seeks to help in transitioning back to normal. Both performers are unmasked, reminding their audiences that the norms that have dominated our routines and habits for the past year are going away.


“Unmasked!” is a delightfully intimate show that for a limited time brings two of Dallas’ best singers together for a wonderful breath of fresh air. After all, nobody is wearing a mask.