`April in Paris' event rekindles memories


April 12, 2002|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE GUILFORD Senior Center was transformed into a Parisian cafe last week, resplendent with French pastries, white tablecloths and live music. For some cafe patrons, the morning offered more than a taste of France - it transported them on a trip down Memory Lane.

About 30 seniors gathered Friday morning for the Howard County Recreation and Parks program "April in Paris." The 1952 movie of the same name served as the inspiration for the event, said Hannah Dawkins, program coordinator for senior adult programs at the Department of Recreation and Parks.

"I'm a movie buff and a theater buff," Dawkins said.

But there was a reason for her choice. "I like to include a lot of programs that will bring out memories about growing up," she said. "It's a great time for the seniors to socialize and reminisce. They have such great stories."

For Mildred Eschols, 82, the morning reminded her of a visit to Paris in April 1985, as a chaperone for a group of American students. "I didn't speak a word of French, but I became `grandma' to a lot of young students," she recalled.

Eschols said she loved the French cuisine, but the young Americans were reluctant to try it. "Would you believe, some of those kids were running around looking for McDonald's!" she said.

Joan van Anken, 71, visited France in the 1950s and 1960s while living in Germany with her husband, who was working there. "For breakfast, we would go to a bar, which is what you do in Paris," she said.

The seniors were treated to live entertainment by professional singer Melissa Christensen while event coordinators Shyami Murphy and Coy Williamson served an array of mousses and tarts. Murphy's 7-year-old son Taylor distributed tickets for door prizes - a certificate to Tersiguel's restaurant and a video, April in Paris. Winners were Alma Whiting, 74, and Eloise Steil, 81.

Some folks, such as Sid Schneider, 86, got up and danced. "I used to do the Lindy and the jitterbug," said Schneider. He attended the event with his wife of nearly 53 years, Lila, 75. Their daughter, Sherry, is director of the center.

The day conjured up fond memories for Fred and Inge Davis; he is a former Army corporal once stationed near Stuttgart. "I fought the Korean War in Germany," said Fred, 72.

It was there that he met his German-born wife, who was 14 years old at the time. "I didn't smoke and I didn't drink, so her father let me take her to the movies," he said.

Inge, 63, said the program, especially the pastries, brought back memories of trips the couple made as newlyweds to Paris in the 1950s and the 1960s. "Today is like being in Paris. It's very authentic," she said.

Black Saga update

Pupils from four southern Howard schools placed among the top 10 teams at the Black Saga Competition state championship, held March 23 at the University of Maryland, College Park. The competition tested the children's knowledge of African-American history.

Top 10 team members were Samantha Master, Alanna Olive-Smith, Kyle Zack, Latoia Williams, Felicia Justice, Elana Williams, Eric Piccirelli, Arlin Willett and Nureya Anthony of Patuxent Valley Middle School; Leah Gaines, Courtney Andrews and Devon Brown of Murray Hill Middle School; Kyle Stanton, Matt Kennedy and Caitlyn Leary of Bollman Bridge Elementary; and Ben Jordon, Nadia Bryan and Erika Koenig of Forest Ridge Elementary.

U.S. 1 to be tidied

If you're looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day, join Howard County officials, Route 1 Revitalization Task Force members and others for a "Cleanup Campaign on U.S. 1" on April 20.

Two of the starting points are in southern Howard County: CarMax in Savage and the Burlington Coat Factory in Jessup. A third starting point, Troy Hill Business Park, is in Elkridge.

Volunteers, ages 14 and older, should register at one of the three sites between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. to get trash bags, vests and instructions.

The cleanup will last until about noon, when volunteers will be invited to the Burlington Coat Factory for light refreshments.

The event will be held rain or shine. Information: 410-313-2350.

Parting words

The next best thing to April in Paris might be April in Savage, especially if you spend your days working at a French bakery, as Sylvie Merlin does.

But it's not just the croissants and the baguettes that make this native of France feel at home - it's the large group of French regulars drawn to the Savage Mill patisserie, Bonaparte Breads.

"We meet so many French people here," said Merlin, who has lived in the United States nearly six years. "They are very friendly. They love France; that's why they come here."

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