Breakfast club unites retirees
November 30, 2010 8:26AM
Updated: April 19, 2011 5:21AM
Remember when ...
That’s a common thread that unwinds at the McDonald’s in Crest Hill for a few morning hours, six days a week.
About a dozen men get together for breakfast, give or take a few here and there who have appointments or other obligations.
Among themselves, they’ve also been tackling the world’s problems — and they come up with some pretty creative solutions. They feel free to express their opinions as they “yak” about this or that: “Did you see that in the newspaper?” “What do you think of this?”
It’s all in good camaraderie for these retirees from various walks of life who’ve been meeting for almost 20 years. The group started with five or six men and they’ve had to add tables to accommodate the newcomers as the years passed.
How did it get started?
“You’d come in, you knew one guy, another knew another, and it grew,” said George Block, one of the group. Ages range from early 70s to mid-90s. It’s a bull session: “We’d disagree. Somebody would check on it. But that’s what keeps us going.”
You might say the gentleman whose memories can almost stretch further back than the rest is Al Wason. The group helped him celebrate his 94th birthday on Oct. 27.
And Al has some pretty special memories. One that stands out is his competition against Olympian Jesse Owens in an area exhibition in days long gone by.
Al did some pretty special running himself when he played softball with the Rivals Club, the Joliet Moose and the Skedels. He bowled during the winter. He’s still up and around and going today, thanks to his “driver” sons, Al Jr. and Bob, and daughter Patsy. In fact, the retirees take their turns giving rides to the others.
The group celebrates each other’s birthdays. The celebrant brings in the treat for the day. In Al’s case, it was his son, Al Jr., who brought in the cake for him.
Block is an off track betting parlor buddy of Al’s. They met there years back and still like to place their bets.
“Al doesn’t sit at home all the time.”
He’s world-traveled, too, visiting different countries with his daughter’s family.
Memories for George included their trips to the State Fair for harness racing with several other guys in the van; going to the race track in the past; and watching Al’s grandson play softball on a park district team.
About Al, he said, “He’s still sharp on all that’s going on,” adding, “I’m glad I’m a good friend of his.”
Char Jones of Wilmington had been thinking of starting a Coffee and Conversation group among widows and widowers from St. Rose Church for some time.
Her oldest daughter, Connie, had formed a social group among singles in the Quad Cities.
Connie had said such an undertaking was a slow process, but the friends she met has made it worthwhile.
They say if you want to get something done, ask a busy person, so Char brought up her plan among a few of the women who were helping at a funeral dinner at St. Rose.
Char does have a busy, full life as a volunteer for St. Rose Council of Catholic Women, and she helps out at Kuzma Care Cottage, which provides food for the needy. Sister Ann Ellen Quirk encouraged her in getting the social circle under way.
Bingo at Godley Park enlarges her social circle and she likes day trips. Her quiet times are spent wreading, exchanging her books with family and friends, and doing crocheting and embroidery. Her own family includes two daughters, two sons, a grandson and two great-grandchildren.
Char also helps to make prayer shawls for the First United Methodist Church.
Coffee and Conversation will meet at 10 a.m. Dec. 18 at McDonald’s in Wilmington, one of the popular venues for its sessions. This friendly group will be happy to welcome newcomers.
Reach Betty Wirth at email@example.com