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Ice cream social brings together Victoria's seniors

May 25, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.

Volunteers ready ice cream bowls for senior citizens at the Old Fashion Ice Cream Social at the First United Methodist Church on Wednesday.

A healthy looking woman sat, legs crossed as she stared up and looked past a woman reading a story.

The tale was from July 1945 and it was about a woman making a train trip from San Antonio to California. Her name - Betty Jean Lowry Leatherwood.

The 91-year-old Victoria woman who had been sitting so poised stood up, held her first place certificate and had her photo taken.

The story was her own and was part of an old fashion ice cream social held at the First United Methodist Church in honor of Older Americans Month on Wednesday.

Leatherwood had won the "My Favorite Memory of Yesteryear" essay contest.

"I thought it was an unusual happening," Leatherwood said, cracking a smile. "I never could write essays."

The Victoria resident had been visiting her parents in Victoria from Lompoc, Calif., where she lived with her husband, Arthur, and 10-month old daughter, Carol.

Her husband had been sent to a forestry school so she and her daughter headed to Victoria by train.

The visit was a good one, however their trip back to California was eventful.

Leatherwood had a lot to carry. She had to hold the baby in one arm, a bag over one shoulder, a suitcase in one hand and she would step and push another suitcase with her foot.

When she arrived to the train car, there were no vacancies, so she ended up staying two days in the bathroom until a family seat became available.

It was a trip she will never forget and that's exactly why the essay contest is so important, said Cindy Cornish, director of the Golden Crescent Area Agency on Aging.

"So much of these wonderful experiences are just lost," Cornish said. "This is a nice reminder."

After Leatherwood's story was read and the second and third place winners were announced, the Toast of the Coast Barbershop Harmony took the stage and started singing songs like "Blue Moon" and "Beautiful Dreamer."

Sugar-free ice creams designed in every which way were handed out to the roughly 50 senior citizens, who had showed up for the event.

From sprinkles to whip cream and nuts to cherries, Gayle Harvey likes it all.

Harvey, 64, attends the senior citizen center in Victoria and was excited to learn more is being done for people her age.

"I think it's a good thing," she said as she beat the heat in the air-conditioned facility. "They should do more stuff for seniors."

Cornish said the social was a great new idea that the senior healthcare agencies will pursue again in 2012.

"We need to honor senior citizens," Cornish said.

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