I can see her sitting like the queen she was, holding a bouquet of red roses, with a glittering tiara and a radiant smile.
Twenty-two years ago we celebrated my grandmother Goby’s centennial birthday in what was then the new Eagle Point Senior Center. It was a fitting venue for her celebration because years before, when she suffered the loss of a second husband, her good friend Hazel saved her from a too-quiet life by inviting her to join the gang at the former senior center, a small red house on South Shasta.
Goby told me the regular gathering of friends dislodged her from the doldrums and brightened her world. Aunt Georgia also whiled away hours there, quilting with others and sharing thoughts.
There’s more than bingo and quilting parties happening at the senior center. Last week, I visited the EPSC to catch some live jazz. The Lake Creek Jazz Society, a trio of experienced musicians, entertained an appreciative crowd with original songs written by guitarist Dan Pietila, who is actually the only Lake Creek aspect of the Lake Creek Jazz Society. Bassist Pete Wirts resides in Medford, and Lane Hall (yes, he’s a drummer as well as an artist) lives in Talent. They’ve all played locally in various bands for a number of years. And don’t ask me why there’s a toucan on their business card. Nobody has seen a toucan in Lake Creek for centuries. But it’s colorful, appealing and so is their jazz, so make the stretch and call it good.
While they played, I checked out a well-stocked thrift store from where the center derives much of its operating funds. Nancy Lilly runs the shop capably from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and she takes care to rotate the many donations that arrive regularly. Unsold clothing is donated to the Gospel Mission or Salvation Army.
With the tunes approaching lively proportions, it wasn’t long before the dancer in the crowd began moving, unable to remain stationery. I recognized her because I, too, love moving to the music and am frequently taken over by the uncontrollable urge to make a fool of myself in front of an audience. It’s worth it.
I smiled at her, wanting to encourage the free spirit inside, but sure enough, it wasn’t long before Lily from the Philippines had me out there on the floor on an otherwise ordinary Thursday, grooving to the vibes before lunch. We got the blood pumping, and I tried to get others to join us, but when I saw some of their faces, I suggested to Lily that we dance less obtrusively and off to the side. The Rockettes we were not. I met Lily’s husband, Willy. Willy and Lily. And their daughter, Milly. No. So, a good time was had by all, even though two of us had a little more fun than the others, and the tip jar turned green.
Folks were friendly there, and I could definitely understand the value of having a special place for seniors (I act like I don’t qualify) to go on a regular basis for a hot meal, or just to kibbutz with friends. Community is good for us, no matter how introverted or curmudgeonly we may be.
Now the humble EPSC needs a new roof. They are hosting fundraisers to reach their goal of $30,000 and are nearly halfway there. A fun and tasty opportunity to participate is coming up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11. It’s Soup Sunday at Talon Grill by the Eagle Point Golf Course. The cost is $20 per, with all proceeds going through the roof, I mean, toward the roof.
It’s little enough to say you made a difference for the health of a small community, while slurping down clam chowder, vegetable beef and butternut squash bisque.
Hope to see you there!
— Peggy Dover is a freelance writer and dancer living in Eagle Point. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.