August/September 2021 Contributor Articles
MY CELEBRATION JOURNEY: CELEBRATING 10 YEARS!
by Debra Saxon, Owner, Celebration Magazine
My dream for Celebration actually began seventeen years ago.
After many years working as a sales recruiter, I left that world to find my passion in life. And little did I know that my next job would change my life forever.
In June of 2004, I was helping a friend look for a job. As I searched online, I came across an Activities Director position at an independent retirement community in Plano. When I read the job description, I immediately knew that I was the perfect fit.
My first problem…I didn’t have any experience!
So, I reached out to the only person I knew who had insider information ….my Grandmother! Grandma and Grandpa lived in a very active retirement community in Houston. Every time we saw them, they would tell us stories about the events, parties, outings, and friends they had made. I always loved visiting their community and hearing about their adventures.
When I called my Grandma for her help, I asked her to go over the monthly activities calendar and boy did she oblige. Grandma described in detail the parties, food, entertainment, and decorations. She spoke at great length about their Activities Director, what she liked about her and of course, as only my Grandmother could, what she didn’t.
We talked about her group’s outings, including Lunch Bunches, ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out) casino trips, museum tours, and shows at the theater. I took it all in.
Immediately after our conversation, I called to schedule my interview at the retirement community. Problem number two, they had already filled the position. With some quick thinking on my part (fortunately, I had been a recruiter and understood the interview process) and a bit of luck, I was able to convince them to meet me.
Now, the real work began. I only had a couple of hours before my interview and needed to figure out how to help these people realize that I was the perfect person for the job.
Then it came to me. I needed an activities calendar.
So, I sat down at my computer and created a calendar of events. I filled the days with everything my Grandma had talked about and then some.
That afternoon, I arrived armed with my resume and activities calendar in hand, ready for my interview.
My interview was with a lady named Donna Sheridan. A bright and cheery lady who knew what she was doing.
She told me about “her residents” about the community, and then the questions began.
Donna asked me to describe in detail parties that I would plan, places we would go and how I would be the best Activities Director for this community.
All my hard work paid off when Donna hired me on the spot at the end of the meeting. That was a Thursday; on Friday, they sent me for my background check and drug testing, and on Monday…. the real work would begin. I am forever grateful to Donna for giving me this opportunity. Still, to this day, whenever I see her, I make sure she knows how much that opportunity meant to me.
Now, many of you know that Stehle and I used to work together, which is where she comes into the story. Stehle was the Community Director at my new job. She was my BOSS!
On Monday morning, I walked into her office and asked a very serious question.
“Is there a publication for seniors with events, activities, and things to do that I can look at?” She looked at me as though I had lost my mind and handed me a spiral notebook with the Collin County senior services information.
This spiral notebook was NOT what I was looking for!
All-day that first day, I couldn’t shake the idea that there wasn’t a publication available for seniors that was positive and uplifting. Everything I put my hands on that day talked about death, dying, and disease.
And then it hit me. It was up to me to create it!
I went home that day (remember, it was my first day!) and told my husband Greg, “I am going to start a publication for seniors.” He also looked at me like I had lost my ever-loving mind! But I was more than determined.
For the next several years, I learned as much as I could about working with seniors. I went from being the Activities Director to the Marketing Director. I took advantage of the time I had with different departments within the organization. I spoke to the businesses who came onto the property about how they market and advertise to this demographic. I talked to my residents about what they wanted in life... what types of events they enjoyed; I listened carefully to their conversations about living and enjoying life.
Every day, I would make notes and lists about the day’s events. And every night, I would go home, open my computer, and write my business plan for Celebration Magazine.
In 2009, I thought that I was ready to launch. With the help of my brother, Dan Price (our Creative Director), we created and printed the very first marketing materials for the company. My plan was to go out in my spare time and see if I could conjure up some business.
Then…the financial crash of 2009 hit. I had just printed 1000 brochures, but it was the wrong time to start my own business. But that was not going to stop me.
To keep up with the momentum, I kept several brochures in my computer bag. Every day, I would take it out and read about the marketing and advertising program that I created. This was going to happen. For me, it was always a reality.
At the beginning of 2011, I was recruited by another retirement community to be the Marketing Director for their independent living side. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave where I was, but they made me a financial offer that I couldn’t say no to. I had been saving my money to start Celebration, and this pay increase would help me get there sooner. Little did I know that this move would change everything.
My new job was interesting. I never really felt at home there, but the experience of working for a different company was worth the move. I was learning another side of retirement living, which I truly appreciated.
Then, I became friends with one of my co-workers, Carol Cottle.
Carol is the person who walks into a room, and you can feel the “soul” of the room change for the better. Her job was helping families move from their homes to the community and then through the different service levels. She was intelligent, personable, and someone that I came to love instantly.
One day, after work, Carol and I were sitting and talking in the community’s lobby. Of course, I had my computer bag with me when she turned to me and asked the question that would instantly change my life forever.
She asked, “Debra, what’s in that bag of yours and what are you always thinking about?” she went on to say, “I can see your wheels turning…you are always thinking about something.”
I smiled, opened my bag, and handed her the marketing materials I had created for the magazine. She immediately asked me why I was working there and not pursuing my own business. I told her that I was saving money to start my company, and that's why I took this new job.
She looked at the marketing materials, gave them back to me, and then asked me how much more I needed. I told her, “all I need is $4000 more.” And then, we both went home, not giving our conversation another thought.
The next day, I got up, got dressed, and headed to work.
I was sitting at my desk when Carol came into my office. Without saying a word, she handed me an envelope. I was puzzled and asked her what it was. She simply replied, “Open it!”
In the envelope was a check for $4000! I looked at her and said, “Thank you, but I cannot accept this,” and she replied, “You have to. You must start this magazine.” Honestly, for a woman who has a lot to say, I was at a loss for words for a few minutes.
When I came to my senses, I told her that I couldn’t repay her for a while. And with that, she said the words that I have lived by every single day. She said, “Debra, this is not a loan. This is a pay-it-forward.” She went on to say, “Along your journey, give other people opportunities that they might not have if it weren’t for you.” This was mind-blowing!
And the next thing I know, she grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into our Executive Director’s office, and she said, “Mark, she quits…. she is going to do something that she needs to do.” And, with that…. I became a magazine publisher. Learn more about Carol in Carol's Corner on page 52
The next few days were crazy. I remember sitting on my couch thinking about my next moves. How was I going to pull this off? The answer, one day at a time.
In the beginning, I did everything. I was the salesperson, designed the ads (they were terrible), created the magazine, learned all the software, created the website, planned the marketing events, and even did the bookkeeping. You name it, I was a one-woman show.
And then, slowly, I started adding people to the team. First, I had to hire someone to create the ads and help create the look and feel of the magazine. And there was NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY that I wanted to work with, more than my brother Dan. He was the best person for the job. For years, I begged him to come and work with me. And his reply, every single time? “You can’t afford me!”
But, one day, after serious brother/sister negotiations, Dan agreed to take a leap of faith with his big sister, and now, he has been with Celebration for almost eight years. I must tell you, working with Dan has been one of the highlights in my life. Not only is he my best friend and my brother, but we are of the same mind. He gets me and understands this business and what we need, when we need it and how it must be delivered. I can’t imagine traveling down this road without him. Dan is always up for whatever needs to be taken care of. He is the kind of employee that every business owner wants and needs on their team. I am the luckiest person in the world that he chose to work with me.
My husband Greg has always been my biggest supporter. Whatever crazy idea I threw at him, he went along with me. (Must be true love!) Greg worked at a job that he wasn’t crazy about so that I could pursue my dream of Celebration.
Finally, after a few years, it was Greg’s turn to work for Celebration. We had been working with a few travel agents to help us with our travel program, and that just never worked out. I knew that we needed to take this “in-house,” so I bought a franchise of Nexion and called Greg and told him that he needed to quit his job and come to work as our Director of Travel. Thankfully, he obliged my crazy request. Ever since then, he has been the person who takes care of the back end of our travel program, helping our guests with their deposits, requests and booking our groups into the airlines and cruise ships. He's the best!
After Greg began working on our travel program, I knew it was time to bring in some big guns to help us. Mary Frances Hansen (MFH) and Richard Barry joined our team in 2015 as Travel Consultants for Celebration Senior Travel. Both had worked previously on cruise ships and loved to travel. No one, could be better for this position than MFH and Richard, they were born to travel with Celebration!
They, along with Greg and myself, went to retirement communities, senior centers, churches, and synagogues to present our trips to their residents and groups. Sometimes, we would only present our travel program to one or two people. It was tough work, but we would always manage to fill the trips! We could not, and would not, be where we are without them both. Over the years, our relationship has changed. These two very special people are not just Travel Consultants; MFH and Richard are our family.
As we grew a little more, it was time to begin hiring people who could help us grow. The sales team has always been the hardest position to fill. Over the years, we have had several salespeople, and each of them has helped me grow as a business owner. Though they are not with us any longer, I am so appreciative to Nicole who was with Celebration for five years and Niki, who was only with us for a short time, but has always loved what we stand for.
Zoe Frost, our Director of Marketing, was my next big hire. I won’t go into the entire back story, as she has written about it in her article. But let’s just say this… Zoe has helped shape Celebration into what it is today. Zoe is the epitome of someone who loves life, loves her job, and loves to be a part of something bigger than she is. Zoe jumped in headfirst and never looked back. Zoe is never one to complain about hard work. She is brilliant at what she does and, quite frankly, one in a million. My love for her is immense, and I cannot thank her enough for all her hard work and being a part of our little family.
In 2020, Celebration, was met with many new challenges, with the pandemic. But, throughout all the trials and tribulations, many good things did happen. One of them was that Stehle and I are working together again.
Stehle is the kind of person who makes you laugh so hard, your sides split. She is talented, loves working with seniors, and I really love working with her. This girl has my back.
On September 2, 2020, I got a text from Stehle asking if I knew of any retirement communities that might be hiring. She had been with the same company for a little over 20 years, and when they sold their retirement communities, she went to work at one of the company’s multi-family properties. While the work was interesting, she never felt connected with the younger residents. She was ready to work with seniors again.
THIS WAS MY CHANCE! I had to take it, now or never. So, I asked her if she would like to come and work at Celebration, and her answer was a resounding YES! She started on November 9, 2020, and we haven’t looked back yet.
Stehle immediately became one of the crew, pitching in and learning everything she could to help us run Celebration. As our Director of Operations, Stehle works with our readers, travelers, and Advertising Partners alike. I am so honored to have her on our team.
Recently, we have hired two new salespeople, Tracy Alvarez and Laura Martino. Both have extensive Advertising Sales backgrounds and bring a lot to the table. We are really excited to see what they do in their new roles. So far, so good!! Keep it up, ladies!
When I started Celebration, I wanted to make sure that the articles we included in the magazine were reflective of our audience. So, I set out to find writers who were also Celebrating Life After 60. My only criteria, they had to walk the walk and talk the talk.
Rose-Mary Rumbley – When I told you back in 2005 that I was going to start a senior publication, you said to me that you would write for me in every single issue, and you have done just that. I can’t thank you enough for all your love and support over the years. You were our first cover girl, our 10th-anniversary cover girl, and have graced our cover more than anyone. I love you and am so thankful for our friendship.
Katie Butler-Johnson – Wow! We met ten years ago, in 2011, when we had The Evening Stars Tap group on the cover of the magazine. Little did we know then that you would begin your journey with Celebration as the writer of your Reflections column. It’s been an incredible ten years with you, and I thank you for your words and friendship.
Dave Friant and Susan Decuir – Words cannot express how thankful I am to both of you for your amazing articles that make Celebration well-rounded and engaging. You both bring so much to Celebration.
Mary Frances Hansen – I told you, you can write! I remember the day we met at Poor Richards to talk about your article in Celebration Magazine. I told you to write from your heart and let it all come out….and you have done that so exceptionally well. Your positive attitude and love for your readers shines through in every issue. Thank you, for everything you do. I love you, my other mother!
Celebration parties would not be what they are without the entertainers that get the parties ROCKIN’! These three guys have been staples in my life for many, many years. They are so much more than entertainers; they are a part of the Celebration crew.
Richard Barry – You are always there for me when I need you! I love to watch you sing and swing as you entertain our troops. As always, what you do for Celebration is so much more than a job, its being a part of our family. Thank you, and I love you, Jersey Boy!
Doc Gibbs – No one can do a Louie like you! We have been together for a very long-time, sir! I thank you for always taking care of me and Celebration!
You are so talented; fun, and I love that big smile of yours. Thank you for helping us out so many times during the pandemic and the 17 years I have known you.
Marty Ruiz – You are amazing! I love watching you work a room and working the camera! (you know what I am talking about!) Marty, your love for the people we serve is a gift. You are talented and extremely loved by all. Thank you for all that you have done and what you will do in the future.
I would also like to acknowledge the ladies below for their contributions, friendship, and love over the years.
Mary Dowling at The Spectacular Follies – You, my dear, are SPECTACULAR! I cannot imagine working with anyone else on the cover shoots, the shows, and marketing events. You are a true professional! I love you so much and am grateful for the friendship that we have developed over the years.
Ms. Texas Senior America – Joyce Brown – You are a gorgeous woman, inside and out! Thank you for being an amazing MTSA Queen and a pleasure to work with. I am so excited to see what you do next!! Much love to you!
Jill Rumbley Beam – Lady, you are such a super-star! From writing to dancing, to Jazzercize, to speaking…. you have it going on! Thank you so much for all your support over the past ten years. I am genuinely in awe of you and your talents.
Jann Horswell - Oh, how I miss you! You are the BEST Outside Marketer we have EVER had! Your friendship has always meant the world to me. Thank you for always being one of my biggest supporters. I love you, tons!
You always hear me say this, but Celebration would not be what it is without our Advertising Partners. They are what makes Celebration free to our readers. Many of them have become more than our customers; they have become our friends over the years. It is our honor to walk with each of them through their marketing and advertising journeys.
A special thank you, goes to my friend, Donna White at Twin Rivers Senior Living. Donna, you are simply the best. The past ten years have been a gift to me. I love that our working relationship turned into an amazing friendship. I am so grateful for our talks, your words of wisdom and encouragement. xoxox
And of course, I want to thank all of you who read Celebration Magazine, play with us on social media, read our emails, join us on Zoom, travel with us, attend our parties, and love us, as though we were your family!
Celebration is for you! Each page we create, each event that we have, each trip that we take, is planned just for you. It is our honor and our pleasure to do the job that we do.
I want to also thank each of you for the encouraging phone calls, emails, letters, notes, cards and gifts that we receive. It always brightens our day and keeps us focused on why we do what we do.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank our parents, Jo Price and Burt Cohen and Sandy and Bill Saxon. Their support, both emotionally, and financially have made us what we are today. The four of them have stood behind us, cheering us on from the sidelines and picking us up when we were down. Having parents that believe in what you are doing is one of the greatest gift of all.
Thank you for the last ten years and we look forward to what's to come. We've got some big surprises in store for you!
From all of us at Celebration Magazine, keep CELEBRATING LIFE AFTER 60!
AND THE PERFECT ATTENDANCE AWARD GOES TO...
by Dan Price
Do you know Dennis and Vivian? I’m sure you do. Maybe you saw that at that Halloween Party at The SPOT? Or Vivian in the Wreath-making class? Or a travel meeting, perhaps? Maybe on Zoom? You have to have met them on Zoom. I did.
I had met Dennis and Vivian a few times previously, but it’s been on Zoom with Celebration Magazine LIVE that I got to really know them, whether it be the 15 minutes before we play bingo, stories they told during Virtual Happy Hour, or great moments during Show and Tell where Vivian played the piano for everyone in the Zoom room.
Dennis started looking at the magazine 8 or 9 years ago when he picked it up at the Richardson Senior Center. He brought it home to Vivian, and they enjoyed the articles and games.
In 2017, they took a chance on ol’ Celebration Senior Travel and joined us on a wonderful Maui vacation. And then, Bar Harbor, Maine. A couple of cruises. They’ve done Branson with us before and are going again this October.
When we spoke for this article, they told me a lot of Celebration travel stories. Stories that made me laugh out because I know all the players involved and I can see it happening in my head like street theater.
Dennis said that Bar Harbor was one of their favorites, not only for the vacation, but for the anecdotes. The flight up east was delayed. Two ladies got fed up and decided to go home because they were talking about taking buses from Philadelphia to Maine or they were going to have 5 different flights.
Now, I wasn’t there for this, but knowing the players, I know for a fact that our illustrious leader, Debra Saxon, went into "Debra Saxon" mode and handled the situation like only she could. She said to the whole travel group, “Stand over there. I’ll get this straightened out. and I will go talk to the airline.” Before they knew it, Dennis, Vivian, and the rest of the Bar Harbor travel gang were on a private chartered jet flight!
Remember I mentioned that Vivian was quite the piano player? Vivian started playing the piano in 4th grade. At first her mother protested but acquiesced as Vivian’s talent grew. In 5th grade her parents finally bought her the piano she still has today. It was on that Bar Harbor trip that Vivian brought her talents to Celebration and played piano for Richard Barry as he performed nightly at the Balance Rock Inn for the travelers.
And talk about some Boomer Zoomers, Dennis and Vivian rarely miss a Zoom event, working it into their daily schedule. “Get up in the morning and put a nice shirt on for Zoom”. That’s their motto. I remember they even Zoomed with us while they were on vacation! That deserves an attendance award right there!
There is a lot more to Dennis and Vivian than just their activities with Celebration. Careers, Children, Grandchildren. But for us, they are more than just readers of Celebration Magazine or seasoned travelers with Celebration Senior Travel. They are not just part of the Celebration community. They are part of the family.
DISASTERS THAT SHAPED MCKINNEY: THE GREAT TORNADO OF 1948
by by Pat Rodgers
May 3rd, 1948 marked the 100th birthday of McKinney, Texas. The day was a warm spring day with a cool southern breeze; but by early afternoon, the weather turned ominous.
Bill Haynes, McKinney native, recalls the impending storm. “At fifteen minutes until three o’clock in the afternoon, I headed to the post office to pick up the mail. It was cloudy but wasn’t bad as I entered the post office; but on leaving, the clouds were rolling, boiling and going up and down over the tops of the buildings. Then I heard the great roar of the storm like a dozen trains. It was ferocious! “
He then went on to tell how many locals were saved: “There were approximately 600 employees at the Textile Mill. Very few were upstairs because it was time to change shifts. Employees had come downstairs and those workers going to work had not yet gone upstairs. Many were saved because of the shift change.”
The McKinney Courier Gazette reported the following: “Those who remained in the spindle room on the second floor took refuge between the great spindle racks and were saved as the tornado devastated the second and third floors. In the frame building next to the Textile Mill, four employees escaped injury when they took refuge in the concrete vault.”
Beth Stapleton, McKinney High School senior, remembers: “It was the darkest, blackest thing I have ever seen.” Others remembered seeing the funnel dipping down as it hit the Textile Mill on the east side of town.
Fanny Finch School, also known as South Ward, was nearby. Principal C. T. Eddins tells this story: “It was a miracle no one in the South Ward School was killed when the tornado hit McKinney. It was a greater miracle that none of the children was injured. There was approximately 130 to 140 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students in the building when the twister hit the school. The younger children had been dismissed for the day.
He continues, “I felt the storm coming and ran to advise the teachers to remain calm and not frighten the students. I told the teachers to transfer the pupils to the east wing of the building as I considered it to be the safest part of the structure. The students remained calm and the teachers were superb. One turned on a radio for entertainment; others sang with the children. Mrs. W. T. McCasland, a teacher, saved all the reports and records of the other teachers and carried them with her.”
Principal Eddins continues the story: “I bolted all the doors and closed all the windows. I went back to the east wing and was holding the door when the storm struck. I can’t tell you how I felt. The whole world seemed to shiver violently. I felt I was in a giant vacuum. There was no breath in my lungs. My body felt that it belonged in the fourth dimension. I did not know the door slammed shut, crushing my right hand and taking off a finger.
Eddins summarized the event: “The storm was over in as much time as it takes to tell. We were all still alive! I guess nine fingers are all right. The less to get into trouble with.”
The tornadic winds reached an estimated velocity of 100 miles per hour, and were accompanied by grapefruit-sized hail and heavy rain. The south part of McKinney lay in shambles, the worst disaster the city had suffered in its 100-year history. Communication lines down, power off in every section of the city- the scene was complete devastation. Finch Park, located in the path of the storm, was a mass of uprooted trees and wreckage. It was nearly impossible to get the injured to the City Hospital, located near the park. With the third floor of the hospital blown away, it was difficult for the doctors and nurses to treat the wounded who came pouring into the building. The McKinney Fire Department set up an emergency power unit until power could be restored.
Relief came flooding into McKinney by late afternoon. The State Department of Public Safety units from surrounding towns came to assist. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and National Guards were on hand. A Naval unit from Hensley Field established radio communication, and a portable power plant was established at South Ward School. The Air Force from San Antonio flew in personnel with 20,000 pounds of food. They sent men to help prepare and serve it to the many homeless. The Red Cross set up headquarters in McKinney and coordinated the vast relief efforts.
The city of Dallas rallied in great numbers, and sent aid quickly to storm-stricken McKinney. Baylor Hospital sent twelve doctors and nearly forty nurses, along with the mobile blood dispensing unit. Dallas Sheriff, Steve Guthrie, led a truck caravan carrying blankets, clothing, first-aid supplies, flashlights and lanterns. Nearly 1,000 people packed into the Dallas Courthouse to offer their services. Amateur radio operators were in abundance. Truck drivers offered assistance.
The Army field kitchens and Salvation Army workers fed the hungry. The homeless slept in tents and in the homes of friends. Telegrams came to Mayor Newsome from President Harry S. Truman and Congressman Sam Rayburn, offering sympathy and federal aid.
On Friday following the storm on Tuesday, Mayor Newsome declared “Good Neighbor’s Day.” All businesses closed for the day, and every able-bodied man in town reported for duty with trucks, saws, tractors, hammers, crowbars, and other useful tools.
Helen Hall tells this story of heroic effort on the part of McKinney men in the aftermath of the tornado. “The home Roy and I lived in was in ruins. The entire lot was covered with tons of awful trash! A truck pulled up and out came men with clean up instruments. I recall our banker was one; the principal of our kid’s school was one; and a clerk from the Woolworth Store was another. In a short time, the entire yard was nice and clean. With a wave, the truck-load of men went on to the next place. Good Neighbors Day did in one day what would have taken the storm victims many months to do.”
McKinney, and the surrounding little towns that were struck by the tornado on that fateful, warm spring day, recovered quickly. The good people of these communities worked tirelessly together.
The McKinney spirit continues today as we face new challenges. Our people will always be there to look out for each other and lend a helping hand to neighbors.
The Collin County History Museum’s current exhibit highlights the disaster with excellent video footage of the storm aftermath.
10 YEARS of FAMILY
by Zoe Frost
They always say the best place to begin is, well, at the beginning. In this instance, I will start at my beginning and why Celebration Magazine means so much to me.
I began my senior healthcare journey back in 2008, working in memory care communities. It was not until I started working for a now-defunct senior publication that I became aware of Celebration Magazine and Debra Saxon.
Almost five years ago, on a Saturday in Dallas is when I first met Debra face to face and began a journey that would truly change my life. She loves to tell the story of the wildly dressed colorful spiked hair Zoe that approached her. At that time, I had blue-black hair.
My goal was to talk with Debra about working cooperatively. Celebration was fun and exciting! They traveled, they had parties, while in comparison, the company I worked for was more healthcare-focused.
I’ll never forget how welcoming, warm, and open she was. She listened to my ideas, threw back ideas of her own, and we began brainstorming. It was the beginning of something amazing.
Every few months, I would get a phone call from Debra. “Hey Zoe, do you know of anyone looking for a sales position?” We laugh now, but she called every few months for a little over a year, hoping that I would get the hint.
I got the hint, and finally, I called and said I was looking for a new position. We decided to meet at a local coffee shop, and instead of an interview, we just talked. We talked about the magazine, marketing, ideas of things we could do, and my hair. By then, I was the purple and pink-haired girl that so many of you came to know. I knew I had found my home with Celebration and Debra Saxon when she said it did not matter, to be unapologetically me.
I’ve been with Celebration for a little over three years now. I started in sales, but Debra saw more in me. I’ve never worked for someone who believes in me the way she does. Debra builds everyone up around her, leads by example, and most importantly, has become a remarkably close friend. The woman you see at events really is who she is. You get back what you put in, and she puts in love. Debra is the heart of Celebration.
This heart also has a heartbeat, and that comes from our team. Not long after joining the Celebration team, I was introduced to the friendliest, best travel consultants ever, Mary Frances Hansen and Richard Barry.
These two welcomed me with open arms and taught me the travel ropes. I still feel terrible when I think back on all the times that I forgot to introduce them at travel presentations.
Next came Greg Saxon. I didn’t interact with him much initially, as his focus was travel, but he’s become my go-to for filming needs when doing Zoom events in person. He has been so incredible to work with, and the one word that comes to mind when I think of Greg is jolly.
Then there’s Dan. Dan is the Regis to my Kathie Lee, or as I like to say often, the other half of my brain. I can call him, and he’ll finish my thought for me when I get stuck brainstorming.
If you’ve joined us on Zoom, you’ve seen Dan and I throw our teamwork into high gear. Other than Debra, he is the person I work with the closest.
Stehle, or as her nametag says, Stay-Lee joined our team almost a year ago and fit right in with her shared love of what we do. She brightens our days, makes us laugh, and is always there to help out.
I would be remiss if I left out our two most recent additions to the team, Tracy and Laura. They haven’t been with us long, but I think they both will be excellent additions.
By now, I’m sure you’re thinking, but Zoe, you have hardly talked about the magazine. There is a reason for that, and it’s pretty simple.
The magazine is paper. What makes Celebration Magazine what it is, are the people, the love, the caring, that goes into every page, event, and trip. We are a family, all of us together. My chosen family that I will cherish forever. Don’t you even think that doesn’t include every single one of our readers. Thank you all for giving us a reason to come together, and thank you, Debra, for embracing this purple-haired girl.
COMMUNITY WEALTH ADVISORS - RAYMOND JAMES
CONNECTING WITH THE COMMUNITY
Stephen Wilson, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional with more than 30 years of experience, partnered with Raymond James Independent Division in 2009 in order to customize service to meet the diverse needs of his clients. In 2020, he expanded facilities by opening a branch office in Wylie and brought his daughter-in-law, Allison Wilson, into the practice. Allison had worked in public education for 20 years. Her background in serving students with disabilities as a teacher, evaluator, and district level administrator has prepared her well to apply her people skills toward her new role as financial advisor. Indeed, educators can make an ideal candidate for transition to financial advisor and she has proven the point.
Together, Stephen and Allison have formed a dynamic partnership by combining their strengths to form Community Wealth Advisors (CWA) for the benefit of the community’s diverse financial needs. They believe that quality financial planning services begin first with understanding client’s fundamental needs and then addressing their long-term goals. Retirement planning is a dynamic process and must provide for contingencies beyond meeting basic needs including consideration for ancillary needs and particular wishes. If you’re already in retirement you may still need to assess your progress and organize your efforts for maximum effect. Financial health checkups can give you assurance and financial confidence.
Our Team at Community Wealth Advisors understands the importance of client trust. It is paramount. Putting client interest above our own is not just a pledge, it is the right thing to do. In this way, we look to form a lasting partnership devoted to acting in your best interest and in a fiduciary capacity. As such, we offer customized financial planning services and associated products to power the fulfillment of those needs. Consultation and portfolio reviews with CWA are complimentary. We listen to understand your perspective and evaluate your specific needs. With that information, we will help you formulate goals and create a custom plan designed to function as your template for success and give you feedback along the way to check your progress. Give us a call to schedule a meeting. The financial success of your retirement tomorrow may well depend upon the attention you give it today. We are here to help. Let’s get started today!
LOVE, G&G: HONORING OUR GRANDPARENTS
by Dan Price
This story, was written by my brother, Dan Price - Celebration's Creative Director, for the September 2012 issue. Our Grandparents, Rita and Harry Vento were larger than life and our inspiration for everything that we do at Celebration. We hope that you enjoy getting to know G and G. - Debra Saxon
In the 1980’s, in the prime of my childhood, there were a few absolutes that I could always count on: Diff’rent Strokes was hilarious, the Texas Rangers were going to tank the season, and my Grandparents were going to send me $20 and an inappropriate card for my birthday. And Grandma would take me to the mall when she visited even though she never drove a car and Grampa would take us all over Los Angeles to sight see, even though he couldn’t see at all.
They were flashy, they were glitzy. If Miles Davis gave birth to “the cool”, Harry and Rita Vento took that torch and ran with it. Wherever they went, everyone wanted to shake their hands, get to know them and hear the amazing stories they had of actors, musicians and the scene which was their life. And no one, I repeat no one, could rock a purple open collar scalloped button down shirt and black suit quite like my Grampa, whether it be at a club, a wedding or a bar mitzvah.
He was a musician and entertainer from an early age and she was a painter and lover of the arts, music and film. Their personalities were larger than life, boisterous and engaging. This is the Harry and Rita Vento that I knew, loved and will always remember. And I, along with my sisters, will continue to remember them every day. They were an inspiration to us in so many ways. From the cartoons I draw of them since college and still to this day, to this very magazine that Debra created in honor of both of them and the senior community at large.
Harry Vento was born Hyman Jacobs in 1915 in Bow in the East End of London. He was true Cockney and loved his hometown just as much as a good, strong cup of hot tea. Born into a entertainment family, Harry’s grandfather worked under the stage name Vento the Ventriloquist (Vento being Italian for “the wind”). This stage name became a mantle passed down through the family to Vento’s son, Joe Vento, who performed music at the London clubs and silent movie houses under the name Joe Vento and the Sicilians. This Italian/Sicilian thing always intrigued me as my family is as Jewish as they come and the closest my Grandfather ever came to true Italian as I knew him was the Olive Garden.
Because music and entertainment was ingrained in Harry’s life, Grampa started playing musical instruments and performing early. By the tender age of eight, he was playing the violin with his father Joe in the orchestra pits at the silent movie house whenever the regular violinist was out. And while there were other jobs and trades he picked up along the way, Harry was a musician first and had stars in his eyes.
My Grandma Rita Vento, was a tougher nut to crack. Born Rita Geen in 1916, my Grandma was more reserved and private than my Grampa. She was the daughter of a Russian immigrant and a British mother. She was a talented painter and had her first show in the White Chapel Gallery when she was only ten years old and continued to paint and show her work throughout her life. She was smart, talented and headstrong, the perfect complement to my grandfather, keeping him grounded, safe and secure.
Rita and Harry married in 1937. They were devoted to one another, Harry taking care of the business-end of the family and Rita taking care of Harry. In 1943 they had my mom during England’s involvement in World War II. Grampa enlisted in the Army as a Royal Signal which was the telecommunications infrastructure for the Army….of course with his passion being music, he also enlisted in the Army band. During this time, Grampa got Diabetes Type 1, something that plagued his health throughout the years but never disrupted his resolve. Grandma made sure of that keeping him strong and fed with her wonderful homemade soups and stews, chopped liver and Grampa’s favorite evening snack (or ‘seconds’ as she called it), Egg and Onion. Yes. Egg and Onion. What can I say? She took great pride in her cooking and her kitchen, hand picking her meats from the butcher daily.
After the war was over, Grampa was brought into a cabaret act called Baker and Willie after the original Baker quit and performed their act at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and society parties and could cut up a room in minutes. After the act dissolved, Grampa went out on his own as Harry Vento and his Music and delighted audiences including Princess Margaret. He was also a talent agent for some years, handling different acts in the London music scene and even passed on managing a small group that you may have heard of called The Dave Clark Five, citing that they “had no talent”. Oh, well. Grampa always said that he never worked a day in his life.
Right after I was born in 1976, Grandma and Grampa moved from London to Los Angeles to be closer to my family here in Texas. To supplement their income until Grampa was able to get in show business, they took a job as apartment managers for a small complex even though she did math on her fingers and he couldn’t plunge a toilet if his life depended on it.
In the end, the risk of moving paid off when Grampa landed gig after gig working with some of the top Hollywood performers such as Johnny Carson, Norman Leer, Ronald Regan, Bette Midler, James Caan and many more. He landed many commercials and musical parts in movies, which we always delighted in watching on TV and the Big Screen. The phone would ring non-stop from friends and family when his Kraft Cheese commercials ran.
While all of my Grampa’s dreams were coming true, Grandma was making a name for herself at Neiman Marcus. She had become an accomplished sales person with an impressive client list such as Linda Ronstadt, the Gabor sisters and Elizabeth Taylor. One night, she was even asked to stay after closing to assist a Saudi Prince and all of his wives. During the course of her career, she received many personal letters from Stanley Marcus, thanking her for her services at the store.
While they loved their Hollywood lifestyle, when the Northridge earthquake hit L.A. in 1994, they finally decided to retire to Houston to be closer to us. This was a good time as I was starting college and got to see them often on the weekends, taking them to Timmy Chan’s Fried Chicken and Chinese Food, watching my Grandma paint London street scenes and spending oodles of time at the dog track with Grampa learning how to bet the Quinella Wheel. I can still hear him hollering at me, “The smart money is the dog money!”
We maintained this arrangement for 15 or so years, with me coming into town from Dallas or Austin to see them whenever I could. By this time, they were in their late 80’s and they found enjoyment looking at photos of their great grandchildren and my Mom’s latest vacation, all while listening to Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck albums on their tiny stereo.
While I didn’t inherit the musical gene of my Grampa, I did become an artist like my Grandma and had the pleasure of showing in a gallery in Houston. It was a great moment for me as my Grandparents got to see my art and passion. Their support was phenomenal and I’ll never forget it.
It’s been 6 years now since Grampa passed, 3 since Grandma and we miss them every day. We will never forget their stories and pass them down to their Great Grandsons, my nephews and laugh hysterically as we tell them. And I will never forget the inappropriate birthday cards that were affectionately signed, Love, G and G. ■
10 Years of Celebration: 17 Years of Friendship!
by Stehle Yarborough
I have had the honor of knowing Debra before she started Celebration, working alongside her in a Retirement Community., that was seventeen years ago.
During our first work experience together, Debra quickly learned of the obstacles of marketing retirement communities. She knew there was a better way of getting information to those who needed it.
I could always tell when she had ideas spinning through her head. And it was back then that she was already figuring out her next endeavor, which became Celebration.
One of my favorite things about her, was how she would ask our residents if there was anything they wished they could do again. When they would tell her, she did her best to make it happen.
One resident, named Bob told her that he always wanted to "feed a horse some carrots". Immediately, Debra called Owens Farm in Richardson and asked if she could bring him by, to feed the horses. They said yes.
So, Debra and Bob jumped in the car and they headed to the Farm. On their way, Debra and Bob stopped at Kroger and bought all of the big carrots the grocery store had.
When they arrived at the farm, Debra wheeled Bob over the bumpy road to the horse stalls. There, the two of them fed the horses and talked about life. Bob passed away soon after that, but we all knew that he got to fulfill one of his wishes and feed a horse some carrots.
Another resident, Jane wanted to drive a car again. She had Parkinsons and hadn't driven in years. Debra was more than happy to make her wish come true! Debra drove them over to a huge EMPTY parking lot at Willowbend Mall and then got out of the drivers seats, so that Jane could take a spin around. Needless to say, Jane had the time of her life! They even called Jane's daughter so that she could share in the fun!
Those are just two examples of how she has made a difference in others lives.
And oh my, how she can transform a room when throwing a party! Debra always says, “Go Big or Go Home” and "you cannot ever have too many decorations when it’s a party!" (She might have even changed my feelings about sparkly confetti all over the place, but not glitter, definitely not glitter!)
From the moment I met her, I could tell she had passion for all the important things in life. When she was dealt the hardest of tasks, she always found a way to push through and make it bigger and better than anything you could imagine. She brings good things to life.
Now that Celebration Magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary, I look back at all that Debra and her team have accomplished. The events and trips that have given our seniors reasons to celebrate.
I am lucky enough to work alongside her again, this time at her company and with this great team of people she has brought together.
Debra and the Celebration team have brought great things to the lives of our seniors, especially our Zoom events, including the games, tours and educational programs throughout the pandemic. We wanted to be here for our Celebration family, especially those who were isolated.
With all that goes on here, it takes a well-oiled machine to keep things moving. The great thing about this company is how everyone who works here, pitches in. We are like family, and it shows!
I am so proud of all that Celebration has accomplished over the last 10 years and what it stands for.
Whether you are new to the Celebration Family or been following us since the beginning, we would like to thank you for being a part of what we do. We do it for you.
by Lori Williams
When you think of dehydration, do you picture someone who has been working outside in the intense heat for hours? Or maybe you think of a time when you were sick with a bad stomach bug, and ended up needing IV fluids due to dehydration? It might surprise you to know that adults age 65 and up have the highest hospital admission rates for dehydration. A UCLA study found that 40% of seniors may be chronically under-hydrated.
What is dehydration? It’s a dangerous loss of body fluid caused by illness, sweating, or inadequate intake of fluids. Anyone can become dehydrated, but it is especially dangerous for older adults.
Why is dehydration such a problem for seniors? As we age, our body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller, and our ability to conserve water is reduced. In addition, our sense of thirst decreases. These problem are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes, dementia and by the use of certain medications. Other factors, include mobility issues that may limit the ability to obtain water.
Be aware of the symptoms of dehydration. Sometimes they can be difficult to recognize. Signs to look for include: dry skin or loss of elasticity, dizziness, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, and fatigue. Severe dehydration signs are even scarier, and can include confusion, rapid breathing and heartbeat, difficulty walking and severe cramping.
What are some ways to stay hydrated?
1. Drink up! Water is best, but if you don’t like water, you can always add flavoring or fruit to it. Coffee, tea and fruit juice also contain water.
2. Keep water close by all day…out of sight, out of mind. This is especially important if you have mobility issues. You may want to keep a pitcher or jug nearby, if getting around is difficult.
3. Make it fun, by purchasing a special mug – maybe one with your favorite sports team on it or a funny saying. If you have arthritis, tremors or any issues with holding a cup, there are several options available that are designed specifically with you in mind.
4. Consume foods with high water content. Did you know that the water content of a cucumber is 96%?! Other options include, tomato, watermelon, bell pepper, grapes, cantaloupe, blueberries and apples.
5. Popsicles! You can make your own from fruit juice or a juice/water mix.
6. Make smoothies (add high water content fruits & veggies) or milkshakes.
7. If you get busy and don’t think about drinking water, set a timer on your phone to remind you.
Tips for the caregiver.
As the caregiver of a loved one, you need to make sure they are staying hydrated. Some ideas to try are:
1. Clear Mugs to easily track how much liquid has been consumed.
2. Check temperature preference - not all seniors like cold water. Many like room temperature or no ice.
3. Have straws available to make for easier to use.
4. Offer high-hydration snacks – fruits and vegetables. Jell-O cups or Applesauce. Sherbet or popsicles.
5. Low vision seniors may do better with an opaque, brightly colored cup.
6. Resistant seniors may enjoy the “experience” – put it in a pretty glass with garnish or paper umbrella.
Keeping Seniors with Dementia Hydrated.
It can be even more challenging to keep a loved one with dementia hydrated. Along with the other factors that affect hydration as we age, seniors can have swallowing difficulties and even become confused as to how to drink from a glass. A young British man, Lewis Hornby, came up with a solution. His grandma Pat, had dementia and was hospitalized with dehydration. He was determined to find a way to help her, and after trial and error, came up with – Jelly Drops. These are brightly colored bite-sized balls of liquid, containing 95% water with gelling agents and electrolytes to aid in hydration. They come in natural, sweet fruit flavors. They aren’t available in the US yet, but his website says they will be here by the end of summer 2021!
Remember, as the temperatures soar this summer, it’s important to pay close attention to your water intake and make an effort to stay hydrated. Preventing dehydration is KEY. For more tips on staying hydrated, visit www.loriwilliams-seniorservices.com
Lori Williams is the owner of Lori Williams-Senior Services, LLC and the host of the podcast, Aging in Style with Lori Williams. For help with senior housing and services, contact Lori at 214-783-1222 or www.loriwilliams-seniorservices.com.
OVERCOMING THE PARALYZING POWER OF STUFF
Senior Downsizing Experts
Stuff. it’s the biggest showstopper when it comes to making a downsizing move or preparing your home for aging-in-place but releasing some of those things that you’ve been hanging on to can be a huge stress reliever. The hardest part is getting started. Here are a few tips to help you overcome the power of all that stuff.
Start Small - Begin in a low stakes room like a bathroom, a linen closet or the kitchen or choose just one dresser or nightstand. This will give you the opportunity to move through things quickly and see that you are making progress. Seeing your progress will encourage you to keep going. Save the sentimental areas for last.
Set Limits - You can’t downsize a 40-year-old household in 48 hours. Decide how long you want to spend on your decluttering project and set a timer. When the time is up, stop for the day.
Follow the Rules for Decluttering - These simple rules will help you as you begin the decluttering process.
• When was the last time I used this?
• How often do I use this?
• How difficult or expensive is this to replace?
• How much space and maintenance are required to keep this?
• If you have multiples, only keep the favorites.
• If it’s expired, throw it out.
• It it’s damaged, get rid of it.
• If you wouldn’t buy it again, you don’t need it.
• If it’s in your closet and has dust on it, will you ever wear it again?
Avoid the Maybe Pile - As you sort through things, create two groups or piles - a “keep” group and a “discard” group. You may be tempted to make a “maybe” group but that often ends up being the largest pile. Then it goes back in the closet, drawer or shelf where it came from and you will still have to address whether to keep or discard that same item down the road. Marie Kondo suggests you evaluate each item (hold the item close) and determine if it “Sparks Joy.” If it does, keep the item and if not, discard the item. It may bring joy to someone else.
Create a Holding Area - Many of the items you are discarding may have value to someone else so consider designating a room or a spot in the garage where you can put the “discard” items. If you’re planning a move, these things can be sold in an estate sale. If you’re staying put, you might want to have a garage sale. You could also consider donating items like furniture, household goods, or clothing to a shelter, mission or church to be used and loved by other families.
Shred or Digitize the paperwork - Paperwork that you don’t need should be shredded for security purposes. If you don’t own a shredder, look for community shred events in your area or take them to your local office store. For things that you cannot discard and need to keep, consider digitizing or scanning items as opposed to filling file cabinets. You may also want to have your banks, utility providers, and financial institutions send you electronic statements rather than paper so they can be stored on your computer or in the “cloud” on applications like Google Drive or Dropbox. For paper items that you want to keep short term like receipts consider an expandable file box.
Rearrange and Sort - Closets and drawers sometimes become catch-alls and can easily turn into a cluttered mess. When things are in disarray, it is difficult to find what you’re looking for. When you can’t find something you go out and buy another, adding to the clutter. By sorting and organizing your space, you’ll likely have more room. To make it easier to locate things, consider using clear storage containers so you can see what you are storing or label them so you’ll know what’s inside.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help - If you find that the task is just too much for you, either physically or emotionally, get some help. If family and friends can’t help, consider hiring a professional organizer. They won’t have the sentimental attachment to your things and can help you decide on what is essential and practical to keep.
Remember, start small and work at a pace that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Break the bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. As Desmond Tutu once wisely said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
CAROL'S CORNER: HOW IT ALL BEGAN!
by Debra Saxon
If you don't know me personally, one thing about me that you should know is that I am very, very grateful to the people who have helped me through the years. Every chance that I get to recognize the people who believe in me, support Celebration and our team is of utmost importance in my journey.
The person who inspired Carol's Corner is most certainly one of those people.
If you read my (very long) article beginning on page 4, you learned that Carol Cottle was instrumental in helping me begin my journey with Celebration. She believed in me before I had even created the magazine or had something to believe.
Carol and I were talking on the phone the other day, and once again, I thanked her so much for her love and support over the years. Being the humble and loving person that she is, she didn't think any of this had anything to do with her. That's Carol. One of the kindest and giving people I have ever known.
So, that brings me to Carol's Corner.
Carol's Corner was created in the very first issue of Celebration to honor my friend.
Here, we always talk about Good News, because frankly, that is what Carol means to me. Goodness, kindness, selflessness, loving, and sweetness. Carol brings sunshine and happiness to everyone.
Carol Cottle has spent many years working with seniors in Assisted Living and Memory Care. She has given her heart and soul to her residents and their families. I have seen first-hand, the joy she brings to them.
She retired in December and she and her husband Rex are now living close to their family, where she can enjoy all that life has to offer. Right now, they are building a new home and living with their son's family and, per her granddaughter's request, sharing a closet together. I can't think of anything better.
I wish Carol all good things in her new life. I know her residents and families miss her, but now it's her time to sprinkle a little fairy dust on herself.
Love you forever, Carol. Enjoy your retirement (it is so well deserved), and thank you for all that you have done for me, Celebration, and our community!
Check back next issue, for more Good News, in Carol's Corner!
REGAIN YOUR INDEPENDENCE WITH EZREADER
by Debra Saxon
Independence is something to enjoy but easily taken for granted. As we lose vision, we also begin to lose our independence. It is my goal to help older people with low vision reclaim that independence.
When my mother-in-law, Jean, (above) was 94 her macular degeneration progressed to the point that she could no longer read books using her Kindle tablet. That was a crushing blow to her because reading was her favorite thing to do. Without the ability to see she not only couldn’t read but needed help from family for many of the things she needed to do. Her independence was lost!
My engineering background kicked in and I developed a special computer program to allow her to read again. I took a touch-screen computer and completely rewrote the book reader software. Despite having no computer skills, Jean found that EZReader was extremely easy to use and she was able to read books independently until she passed away a few years later.
Over time, I continued to develop EZReader. It is now more than just a book reader. EZReader offers the ability to read and listen to books, to receive and send email and text messages and to use a camera to magnify printed materials for viewing on the computer. It additionally offers dozens of other programs customized to enable a low vision user to see and user the computer more easily.
With EZReader, you or your loved ones no longer have to depend on family or friends to do everything for you. EZReader users are able to order food online, pay their bills online, send emails and text messages to friends and family, keep their own calendar and view newspapers and printed materials. They can even play a special version of Solitaire (and other games) written especially for low vision users!
Making operating the computer easy to use was a primary goal for me. You can change colors, use unlimited font sizes and operate EZReader with a touch of your finger. EZReader screens are designed with visual simplicity in mind, making it very easy for low vision users to see and read screen content.
EZReader cannot restore your vision loss, but it will help you make the most out of the vision you have left just like it did for my mother-in-law.
With EZReader, you will reclaim more independence than you have had in a long time.
by Rose-Mary Rumbley
Rose-Mary Rumbley began writing for Celebration Magazine in our very first issue, which came out in September 2011. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for her love and friendship. I tell everyone...Rose-Mary helped put us on the map! Please enjoy her very first article in Celebration, called "Remember When..." - Debra Saxon
When I was teaching at Dallas Baptist University in the 1960s, my students couldn’t believe that I grew up without television. “What did you do?” they would ask. I quickly responded, “I listened to the radio.” As they shook their heads they asked, “Well, did you look at it?”--meaning the radio. I ended it all by stating, “I don’t remember.”
Ah, but I remember those “magic days of radio land!” We came home from school, drank a glass of milk, and settled down to hear, Jack Armstrong, the “All American Boy...Brought to you, by Wheaties, The Breakfast of Champions!” This was followed by “Little Orphan Annie.” She was sponsored by Ovaltine. If you saved your Ovaltine seals and sent them in, you would get a decoder ring and you “could decode the messages little Annie sends to her little friends.” I was the first in my neighborhood to get the ring, and I decoded the message which said “Buy more Ovaltine!”
Our mothers were at home all day listening to the soap operas. There was Oxydol’s own, Ma Perkins. Ma owned a lumber yard. All the excitement in the little town centered in the lumber yard. She had a daughter who got married and if you sent in box tops with 25 cents you got the pattern for the wedding dress and “You too could look like Ma’s daughter.” Then there was “Backstage Wife.” This was the story of Mary Nobel who was married to a handsome actor. She “shared her husband with every woman in America!” But the favorite was Helen Trent...though she knocked on the rocks of despair, fought back bravely to prove that “just because a woman is 35 or more, romance in life need not be over!” This was great entertainment and inspiration to my mother as she labored over an ironing board!
On Sunday night we listened the mysteries. “Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Man...The Shadow Knows!” We also listened to The Green Hornet, Boston Blackie, Gang Busters and the scariest of all, complete with squeaking door, was...The Intersactum . It was always fun to listen to these programs in the dark. The best part of all, was scaring ourselves!
Everyone enjoyed listening to the musical programs, Your Hit Parade, The Grand Ole Opry and Kraft Music Hall starring Bing Crosby and if you lived in Texas, you might remember “The Light Crust Dough Boys”. We loved it when they were on the air!
But, the real enjoyment came to the listening audience with the comedies. These comedies were built around one joke and every week, we all waited for that joke, and it was always there. Fibber McGee always opened the closet, same sound effect of clutter would be heard, and Fibber would say, “I need to clean out that closet.” In The Life of Riley, Mr. Riley would meet Digger O’Dell, the friendly undertaker, who always said, “Goodbye, Mr. Riley, and remember I’m the last to let you down.” Judy Canova would play the part of Ma to her husband, Pa. Every week there was this corny scene. “What’s Lukey smilin’ fer ma?” She answered, “He’s not smilin’. I give him a banana and he got it in sideways.” Jack Benny was always concerned about his money. Each week he visited this guard in his vault and the guard always asked about the outside world. The longest laugh in radio history was when the robber put the gun in Jack Benny’s back and said, “Your money or your life.” There was a long pause. Then Benny answered, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.”
If you are older and better, you remember all of these radio shows, because they never changed. They were on week after week and year after year. We, the audience, didn’t want them to change. It would have destroyed our mental state.
Today, there is rapid change in everything--the media particularly. There is something new every day. That’s just the way it is. But it is fun to look back and remember sitting on the porch swing and listening to Kay Kyser, and the Kollege of Musical Knowledge on the radio. How sweet it was! ■
THANK YOU FOR TEN YEARS!
by Dan Price
Good golly Joe Friday! Has it been ten years of Celebration already? Time flies when you’re having fun!
I’ve been with Celebration officially in some capacity for about eight years, but since I am Debra’s (Deb… I get to call Deb) brother, I’ve basically been around since the beginning.
I helped out on some graphics here and there, but mostly I was rooting for my sister as she was making her goals and dreams happen.
In all actually, for the first six and a half years I was the Celebration team member you didn’t know I existed. I worked on the magazine, the website, all those travel flyers to here and there, even coming up with party themes for Celebration and our advertising partners.
While you guys were partying it up at The Rockin’ New Year’s Party, Magic and Mambo Taxis and The Hamburger Jam with The Hamburger Man (one of my favorite event titles), I was here is Austin plugging along. I’ve been a graphic designer/art director/creative director for around 20 years, and so working at a small company with my best friend was a cool fit. Work from home, left alone to do my thing. Travel up for Live, Laugh, Learn once a year. It was a natural fit.
Then Covid came and my love for my job tripled for one reason. You guys. You guys already knew Debra, Greg, Zoe and everyone else who has been a part of the team at Celebration, but by way of Zoom, we finally really got to meet one another.
It started with Name That Tune on Zoom. Then, Zoom Bingo. After that, Wheel of Fortune. Once we got the hang of it all, there y’all were three days a week, laughing and having fun in such an uncertain time. I remember clearly as it was yesterday when a wonderful lady who’s name I will not mention out of respect for her privacy, stayed after the game and spoke with me. She’s a widow and was alone throughout quarantine. I could hear the fear in her voice, her eyes told her loneliness. She said to me, with tears in her eyes, thank you. Thank you to all of us here at Celebration for being there with something to do.
Despite it being virtual, we were bringing people together in some form to make things as normal as possible. I knew, with all my heart, that we were doing something good.
Even though our goal was to be there for you, you were there for me. You gave me something to look forward to three days a week, new faces to talk to, different ideas and stories to learn from.
As sad as it has been covid era for the whole world, this has been my favorite time as a member of the Celebration team and you all made me feel welcome in the Celebration community.
And Celebration is more than a magazine, or a company that you travel with, it is a community. A community where we leave our problems at the door and just Celebrate Life After 60! And you Thank you so much for being a part of it. Without you, this would never happen.
I gotta wrap this up now. I only got about 550 words allotted for this article. But whatever you do today, I want you to know something. You are not just a reader, a traveler, a zoom buddy, you are part of the Celebration family. Thanks for that.
Here’s to another 10 years!