Insights of Retirement Living

He held her hand and smiled. She looked a little confused but smiled back at him with the smile that still made his heart skip a beat. To him she was still the beautiful woman he had fallen in love with some forty years ago. How time flies he thought to himself. Has it really been this long? Where did the time go? He looked at her again, and for a moment he was transported back in time to the first time he laid eyes on her across the crowded room. Friends had encouraged him to go on a cruise to try to find his way after losing his wife to cancer and try to raise his two sons alone. He had kept to himself for most of the cruise just enjoying the peace and quiet of being alone. But this night he had decided to go to the top deck where in a ballroom under the starry sky people could be heard laughing and enjoying music and dancing. It was difficult at first, because dancing was something he and his wife had enjoyed. Then he saw her. She, like he, was alone and looking rather out of place in the romantic swirling throng of couples. She had on a simple blue gown, somewhat old fashioned, that flowed around her tiny body reminding him of a movie star from the fifties. She had blonde hair that curled around her face and there was a blush of sun on her cheeks and innocence in her eyes that made her look younger than her years. She sat with her hands folded properly in her lap and was also watching couples move around the dance floor with a wistful look on her



“I wonder what she is thinking, remembering, longing for” he thought. Then, without realizing it, he found himself standing to his feet and moving through the crowd towards her, as if some irresistible force were drawing them together. She smiled shyly as he approached and extended her small hand. He swallowed hard. . .”May I have this dance?” he asked. She nodded slowly barely looking him in the eyes. This seemed to tell him she too had suffered some hurt or disappointment. He took her in his arms and they began to dance and as if on cue the band began to play “Strangers in the Night”.

How sweet the memory was. . . washing over him like a balm. Now here they were again sitting together in a crowded room but this one was in an Alzheimer’s unit in a small nursing home. His beloved wife now had very little memory of her past or even where she was. The anchor that held her in all of the confusion was his love. When he arrived each morning after breakfast she would smile as he approached her and say, “I know you.”

He would smile and say, “Who am I?”

She would reply with a shy smile, “Someone I love.” His name now escaped her, but her heart would never forget.

He would smile back at her and say, “That’s right, my darling, I am the one you love.” There they would sit for hours holding hands — very few words spoken, just being together.

Sometimes he would begin, without thinking, to hum the melody of their song, “Strangers in the Night,” and she would join him softly singing the familiar words. Then, there would be that moment, that ethereal moment when time and space were no longer relevant and the two of them would be locked in the memory of that first embrace, first dance, first moment when they knew they were lovers at first sight, in love forever.

It did turn out so right for Strangers in the Night. 

-Karen Moore

In May, 1951 I was sent to the Far East to fly jets in Korea. After a couple of months of flying missions from Tsuiki Air Vase, Japan, our 51st Fighter Group was transferred to Suwan Air Base, South Korea.

Our group’s mission was to fly as far north as the Yalu River in North Korea in order to destroy enemy facilities. We bombed roads, bridges, railroad tracks, tunnels, and yes, we machine gunned Ox carts. Don’t laugh; many of them blew up when we hit them with tracer ammo.

Our fighter group as equipped with the Lockheed F-80 “Shooting Star.” It was a single engine jet with one person. Each plane had six fifty caliber machine guns in the nose. Our planes had been modified so that we could also carry two 1,000lb bombs. On this day, we took off with twenty-four F-80’s flying information to out target just south of the Yalu River. When we arrived to our target just south of the Yalu River. When we arrived over the target, there was dense cloud cover and we could not see our objective. Out leader told us to “attack targets of opportunity” on our way home. (The F-80 could not land with bombs still attached to our wings.) Our four planes were all flown by “B” flight pilots. We always flew together and slept in the same two tents. “B” Flight was always expected to closely examine a main supply route in the western part of North Korea. On every mission we would patrol this fifty mile stretch of roads, rails, bridges, ect. We got to know it very well.

Our flight leader, Capt. Miner, saw a place where two railroads met. This was a good place to destroy with our eight 1,000lb bombs. In dive bombing, one airplane followed closely behind the plane ahead. As the four of us were well lined up on our dives, our second pilot, Lt. Tabazinski’s plane blew up in a huge fireball. My wingman was Capt. Long. We circled the explosion to see if Tabazinski had been able to eject. As we turned, Capt. Long radioed to me that he also had been been hit and lost his engine.

I immediately turned toward a large bay where there was an air-sea rescue seaplane circling. It was positioned so that it could rescue downed flyers. As we glided toward the water, Capt. Long suddenly turned left toward land. I asked him why he wasn’t going to ditch his plane in the bay. He said he was going to dead stick in a rice paddy. (A dead stick landing means landing without power.) I followed him down and saw a huge geyser of muddy water as he skidded across the rice paddy.

I had to leave, as I was so low on fuel. I was worried that I couldn’t make it to a friendly field. I landed at the first field that I came to. My airplane “flamed out” as I turned off the runway.

I admit that I found it very hard to sleep that night with those two empty cots across the tent. Out intelligence services reported the next day that Capt. Long was uninjured in crash landing. He had stood up and raised his hands in surrender to some North Korean farmers. They shot him in the head.

– Lt. Col. Harold Hadder, USAF Retired

Captain William (Bill) Phillips, USAR-Armor, served a combined nine years active duty and reserves — from 1958-1967. He and his wife, Nancy moved from Waynesboro into one of the villas in December.

Bill states that he is a veteran of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall Crisis, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. His service included six months active duty and seven and one-half years in the reserves. Most of his reserve time was with the 80th Division in Richmond. Bill is a graduate of the ROTC program at Richmond University.

This is somewhat of a parody about a true incident. The year was 1950. The place was a high school auditorium. The event was a biblical drama sponsored by a local civic organization. The event was supposed to be a serious drama. However, due to such factors as limited rehearsal time, poor volunteer amateur actors, limited stage props, etc., the event turned into a comedy.

The sponsoring group hired a director from outside the area. She was accustomed to working with trained actors. She knew nothing about the limitations of the volunteer cast. Those of us in the play did not have sufficient time to memorize our lines or to get accustomed to our costumes or some of the props which were issued the night before the play.

Following are some of the things that happened which turned the supposedly serious biblical drama into a comedy — actually a farce.

One actor was supposed to eat during a scene. That would have been fine except for one thing — he could not find his mouth through the hole in his mustache. Those of us on stage felt compelled to maintain our composure, but I could tell that all of us were ready to explode in laughter.

Forgetting lines, feeding off the wrong cue, listening to the frantic director standing backstage attempting to prompt the actors, etc. were hilarious.

One especially funny incident was the attempt of one of the actors to “break the ten commandments.” The simulated stone tablet just would not shatter as it was designed to do, regardless of how hard the actor banged it against his knee. Finally, in disgust he threw it onto the floor. It still did not break.

I had a the part of Joseph and had more lines than I could memorize in such a short time. I had the “brilliant” idea of palming my lines on note cards and changing them while someone else was speaking. It actually worked for a while. Then, it happened. As I stood up, there went my cards to the floor. I had to ad-lib and bluff my way through the rest of that scene.

It was in this play, just before I went off stage that I witnessed the funniest episode that I’ve ever seen on any stage. Several high school faculty members were in the cast. Our beloved principal (now deceased) had been caroled into taking a part in the play. His lines included the phrase, “Yea, Oh Lord” several times. He had quipped that if he forgot his lines, he could just say that phrase. Now, you can guess what happened. At one point he completely forgot his lines, as several of us had done previously. He looked up with a blank stare and said loudly, “Yea, Oh Lord.” I could tell that he had forgotten his lines, so I tried to prompt him. I could hear the director behind the curtain trying to prompt him. Our principal had obviously panicked . Again, he said, “Yea, Oh Lord.”

By this time the hysterical director was almost yelling the lines. Tears actually rolled down the actor’s cheeks as he said loudly for the third time, “Yea, Oh Lord.” Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, our friend caught the correct cue from the director.

When I left the stage with a fellow actor (thankfully for the last time in the play), my friend and I headed straight for the dressing room. We raised the window and leaned out as far as we could (so that we would not disturb others) and just roared in laughter.

During my seventeen years of teaching speech, I directed numerous plays. However, I never witnessed anything as funny as this supposedly serious biblical drama which turned into comedy.

-James Salter

Many communities have individuals who, for some reason or other, stand out as unique and colorful characters. Years ago I wrote about some of those individuals in my hometown in Louisiana. As you read about this particular gentleman, perhaps you will recall some special individual that you knew years ago in your hometown.

A deaf and dumb gentleman by the nickname of “Dummy” was well-known and well-liked by many people in my Louisiana hometown for many years. His story is a most unusual and interesting one.

It was in the 1930s that an oil drilling crew outside of town kept seeing a young boy around their rig. The youngster was so wild that they could not approach him. The men set a trap for him, and to their amazement, discovered that he was deaf and dumb. He was dumb only in the sense that he could not talk — his mind was as “sharp as a tack.”

The oilmen took a liking to Dummy, took him to town, and bought him some nice clothes. The people of the town really took a liking to the young man and “adopted” him as one of their own. He made friends easily. A state senator and the town druggist became Dummy’s chief benefactors.

As Dummy grew into a young man, he became a well-known “fixture” in the town. He enjoyed visiting in the churches. Although he could not hear, he sat up front in the center section of the churches and paid rapt attention to the ministers. Evidently he could read lips well. The three largest churches in town were the Catholic, Methodist and Baptist. Dummy took turns visiting them. He was welcomed in all of them.

Dummy could speak only in gibberish, but some of us could carry on conversations with him using our own version of sign language. He would tell me about squirrel hunting with his dog that would tree a squirrel, come back to him, and lead him to the tree.

For a number of years Dummy enjoyed going up to the school during recess. He enjoyed serving as referee for some of the groups. In his last years Dummy was forced to use a walking cane. On Sunday mornings he could be seen walking right down the middle of the street going to and from church. The townspeople knew him and just went around him.

Dummy died in the late 1950s. There were many of us in my hometown who were proud to claim this colorful character as a friend. Dummy’s real name was Frank Rivers. I shall always remember my friend, Dummy.

-James Salter


“I live in Stuarts Draft with my wife Katie and my two young girls, Grace, who is ten years old and Hope, who is six. The girls attend Stuarts Draft Elementary School. My wife and I are expecting our third child at the end of April. I don’t mind saying that I am hoping for a boy. However, if the Lord sees fit to bless our family with another young lady, He will get no complaints from me.

The Karaffa family has lived in the Shenandoah Valley for three generations. My grandfather and his wife, John and Lucille, live in Verona with my Uncle John and Aunt Becky. I have another uncle who lives in Staunton with his wife. Tom works for the organ factory, and Liz is an artist who paints on porcelain. There are, of course, numerous cousins and great grandchildren that would take more than this column to fill. However, most folks know the Karaffa family through one of the members I have listed previously.

My father is Doctor David Karaffa, a neurologist who was formerly with Shenandoah Valley Neurological Associates. However, my mother, Sandra, and my father sought a warmer climate and relocated to Palm Coast, Florida. While I do miss them, they are very happy in their new home.

I moved back to the Valley after I married and we were expecting our first child eleven years ago. We decided that the Valley was the best place with the best environment to raise a family and have enjoyed our life here.

I attended Blue Ridge Community College and obtained my degree in nursing. Shortly after, I was working on the floor at Augusta Medical Center as a nurse. I was quickly moved into the intensive care unit where I spent six years. During the last three years there I was also trained as a cardiac intensive care nurse. I was very proud of everything that I had accomplished at Augusta Medical Center. However, the demands of the job were very fast paced and I wanted to be able to get to know my patients and residents better. Therefore, I left the hospital to enter long term care.

I am very excited to be here at Stuarts Draft Christian Homes. It is a special thing to have such a caring and devoted staff. I love the embrace of God that exists in so many aspects of this community. As a Catholic, this has meant a lot to me. I look forward to getting to know all of you and establishing myself here in your community. I have had such a warm welcome so far and wish to convey the most sincere thanks for the many wishes of luck and prayers. Thank you.”