Northfield Senior Center hosts first annual 'Gay 90s Party'

  • Heather Tower, director of the Northfield Council on Aging, serves Mary Jane Porter (left) and Agnus Piscopo (right) tea during the first annual “Gay 90s Party” held at the Northfield Senior Center Thursday afternoon. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Don Huber and his wife Rita Huber share finger sandwiches during the first annual "Gay 90s Party" held at the Northfield Senior Center Thursday afternoon. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Mary Lyle (standing) tells stories about her childhood during the “Gay 90s Party” at the Northfield Senior Center Thursday. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • The Farley Five, a band featuring members from across Franklin County, play during the first annual "Gay 90s Party" held at the Northfield Senior Center Thursday afternoon. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Attendees of the first annual "Gay 90s Party" held at the Northfield Senior Center Thursday afternoon. From left to right, rear: Genevieve Clark, Mary Lyle, Ruth Johnson, Helen Monroe and Agnus Piscopo. From left to right, front: Don McCollester, Hazel Moore, Richard Bassett, Doris Glabach, Mary Jane Porter and Don Huber. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/2/2016 11:24:20 PM
Modified: 10/2/2016 11:23:55 PM

NORTHFIELD — As The Farley Five strummed to the tune of “Golden Slippers,” Mary Lyle sipped tea, snacked on finger sandwiches and told entertaining stories of her youth. Dressed in a white apron and bonnet, Lyle embodied the style of dress she remembered her own grandmother wearing in the 1920s and ’30s.

Lyle and 10 other Northfield residents gathered in the Northfield Senior Center recently for the first “Gay 90s Party,” a by-invitation event that brought together Northfield residents age 90 and older for a day of music, food and conversation about days gone by.

Many of the attendees, who ranged in age from 90 to 95 years old, dressed based on when they were born, wearing feathered boas, elaborately patterned coats and large hats. About half of the 30 residents invited were able to attend, according to Council on Aging Director Heather Tower.

“This has been on my mind for the last couple of years,” Tower said of the Thursday event. “I said ‘This needs to happen.’”

Tower envisioned holding an event that would give Northfield’s 90-year-olds a chance to meet each other, fostering “a different kind of fellowship.”

“This is an accomplishment,” Tower said of turning 90. Tower said she wanted to honor the town’s 90-year-olds and say, “‘You’re an important part of this community. This is your day.’”

Tower also intended to bestow the town’s oldest resident, Freda Stoddard, 96, with a gold-headed cane during the party. Giving the cane to the town’s oldest resident has been a tradition since 1909, when the Boston Post distributed canes to approximately 700 New England towns, including Northfield. However, because Stoddard couldn’t attend, Tower will deliver the cane to her home, as has been the custom in the past.

Party attendees all received a pamphlet featuring a list of historic events that occurred in the year they were born, hit songs during the period and the price of groceries during the 1920s.

The party gave attendees a chance to remember old remedies, struggles during the Great Depression, Prohibition and participating in war efforts, as well as fonder memories like getting their first radio and ice skating on Dickinson Pond.




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