SPRING Buds share memories at Bain senior center


August 04, 1999|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY THURSDAY afternoon, George Bowers, 75, joins a few fellows at the Florence Bain Senior Center to talk over old times. The guys trade tales about World War II and support each other on the road to old age.

"It's a nice thing to have somebody to share your history with," Bowers said.

Bowers, Marty Chaitovitz, 70, and Tom Reitz, 85, are regulars at the weekly SPRING Buds meeting at the center in Harper's Choice. Senior Peer Resources, Individuals, Networks and Groups (SPRING) is a peer support program that began at Florence Bain 14 years ago.

"I think SPRING offers friendship and support," said Dot Keczmerski, coordinator for the program and mental health coordinator at the Howard County Office on Aging. "That in itself is a prime factor in keeping seniors healthy and independent longer."

A dozen SPRING groups meet regularly at the senior center.

SPRING Currents meets to discuss current events. SPRING Joints explores ways to cope with arthritis. SPRING Insighters offers support for those with visual impairment; SPRING Sounds examines ways to cope with hearing impairment.

And SPRING Trenders is for adults, 50 and older, who are recently retired or in transition because of an empty nest, a move, or new relationships, to name a few.

At a recent meeting of the SPRING Buds, the men were discussing the summer heat and how they spent summers when they were growing up.

Chaitovitz, a resident of Allview Estates since 1963, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and spent his summers on Long Island.

He remembers his family's summer home as a gathering place for neighborhood children.

"We had a gang of kids, 14 to 20 at a time down at the beach," he said. "My dad was a fisherman and a boatsman. We had a kayak, a dinghy and a 36-foot sports fisherman. We were on the water every which way."

When the children tired of the water, he said, "We'd have a gang of kids over, and my father would hit fly balls to us in the street."

Growing up before central air conditioning wasn't a problem for him, Chaitovitz said. "We managed with open windows with screens." But he acknowledges, "Sometimes it was hard to sleep."

The kids in his neighborhood were happy to see the ice truck as it made its rounds delivering 25-pound blocks.

"We'd follow the truck and get ice shavings," Chaitovitz said.

Reitz, who has lived in West Running Brook for 20 years, grew up in Baltimore. He said commercial establishments started offering air-cooling during the summer months around 1939.

"They'd get a block of ice and set it in front of a fan and called it air-cooling," he said. "The thing didn't cool anything."

Reitz said he and some friends would spend summer days at Five Oaks swim club in Catonsville. The club on Frederick Road was founded in 1931.

He recalled trying to earn summer spending money.

"I was about 10, and I'd go over to J. W. Crooks," he said. "It was like the A&P. I had a Paris Coaster wagon, and when people would do their marketing, they'd come out with their baskets and we'd ask them if they wanted us to take their baskets home for them. We'd pull their groceries home, and they'd give us 10 or 15 cents."

Reitz said being a "nice clean-cut boy with a clean white shirt and polished shoes" helped him get business from shoppers.

"I was in the service before I realized that a fairy didn't shine your shoes in the night," he said. "It was my grandmother."

Fifteen cents may seem like a measly amount today, but the men said that when they were young, hot dogs were two for a nickel. The movies cost a dime and you could stay all day.

Bowers grew up in Baltimore County and lives in Elkridge.

"On Sundays, we'd go down to Rock Creek and swim or play ball or go into the woods," he said.

He talked about more mischievous fun as a teen-ager.

"In the summer, we'd go milk the cows at the stockyard," he said. "We'd battle with them, squirting milk at each other. The more daring ones rode the bulls."

SPRING also sponsors an annual weekend away for seniors. The theme of this year's event -- planned for Nov. 6-8 at the Skycroft Conference Center in Western Maryland -- will be "Senior Adults Shaping the New Millennium."

The cost is $140 double occupancy, $165 single occupancy, and includes a buffet.

The senior center is at 5470 Ruth Keeton Way.

Information about SPRING or the weekend away: 410-313-7213.

Athen heads HCC board

The board of trustees of Howard Community College has elected Joan Athen as chairman for the 1999-2000 academic year.

Roger Caplan was elected vice chairman.

Athen, a board member since 1995, has been vice chairman since 1997. She is president of National Communications Network Inc., and executive vice president of LEX-NET One Communications Inc.

The Columbia resident is founder and president of the Maryland Therapeutic Horsemanship Association -- a nonprofit organization that teaches riding to the disabled as a form of therapy.

Caplan is president of the Caplan Group Inc., a Howard County advertising and public relations company.

A resident of River Hill, Caplan is on the board of directors of the Howard County Arts Council and on the board of the Howard County Police Foundation.

Donation from the bar

The Howard County Bar Association has donated $1,000 to the Columbia Foundation.

The money was raised at the bar's golf and tennis tournament July 12.

Despite rainy weather, 120 golfers and 16 tennis players participated in the tournament at Hobbit's Glen Golf Course.

Jeff Krew of Reese and Carney LLP has been chairman of the event for 10 years and is incoming president of the bar.

In an event July 21, the law offices of H. Mark Bobotek on Little Patuxent Parkway held an open house for clients, donating $10 for each family in attendance to the Columbia Foundation -- a total of $530.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Columbia Foundation. Since 1969, the foundation has granted $4.5 million to county nonprofit organizations in human services, the arts and community affairs.

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