Ferndale Roadrunners bigger and better than ever

December 13, 1993|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Staff Writer

They call themselves the Ferndale Roadrunners, but they don't run, really. And Wile E. Coyote has nothing to do with them. But "senior citizens club" just didn't sound right.

"Seniors are old folks," explained Pete Scott, 69, a member of the club celebrating its 21st anniversary. "We are young at heart."

The young at heart members meet at the Ferndale-Linthicum Senior Center for weekly penny bingo games, they travel together to Cape Cod, Myrtle Beach and the Poconos. And they depend on each other to ease the loneliness when a spouse dies.

"The club has been my salvation ever since he left," said Irene Andrysiak, 75, whose husband died in 1984. "I would have been in a rut without it."

At a recent bingo game, the balls popped out of the machine and Melvia Scott scooped one up. "Seventeen," she called.

The players scanned their cards for the number. The lucky ones placed a colored chip over the number. The unlucky ones hoped fortune would be kinder to them the next go-around.

One of the best things about the club, says Hilda Tillberry, 77, whose button reads, "Keep grandmas off the street: support bingo," is using bingo winnings members have split with the house to take everyone out for meals every six weeks.

The club was formed in 1972 by Ethel Schmidt, then 75. She and two other founding members are still alive, but another died earlier this month.

At 96, Mrs. Schmidt still attends meetings, but "her health is catching up with her," Mr. Scott said.

The group met in the Ferndale United Methodist Church until 1982, then moved to the center on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. Originally, the club was known as the Ferndale Senior Citizens, but the members soon tired of the name, settling on Roadrunners.

Mr. Scott's wife, Melvia, took over as president of the group seven years ago after Ms. Schmidt, who has been president and vice president, asked Mrs. Scott to take over and keep her vision of a local place for seniors to go to enjoy themselves.

The group's membership has increased steadily over the years, from about 35 members to 150 regular and associate members. The group has associate memberships because fire regulations allow only 97 people in the center at a time.

About the only requirement the Roadrunners have for new members is that they be over 55.

The group takes 10-day trips and usually two overnight trips every year coordinated by Mr. Scott -- who usually gets low rates. They have attracted new members from Pasadena to Glen Burnie.

The group also holds picnics and sets up booths at the annual Ferndale Day fair and organizes donations to charities such as Goodwill.

"If we know somebody needs help, we send it," said Mrs. Scott, 66.

Some of the friendships in the club date back more than 50 years. Ruby Bauer and Vivian Lynch, friends since 1930, sat together at the bingo game, helping each other if one missed a number that was called.

Ms. Bauer joined the club shortly after her husband died in 1975, then persuaded Ms. Lynch to join the club after she retired from her 30-year teaching career.

Ms. Bauer and her husband, Henry A. Bauer Jr., did everything together during their 40 years of marriage, Ms. Bauer said. Learning to do things and go places without him was the hardest thing she had to learn after he died, she said.

But she found the Roadrunners because she was determined not to "sit in the house looking at the walls."

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