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Jack Viken playing a game of pool.

Memories of residents who could still shine

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One morning at Fair Oaks Lodge, I enjoyed sitting in on one of the Farmer's Breakfast days I have been hearing about. They are held in the pretty third floor dining room. I could smell the ham, bacon, eggs and coffee before I got there, along with the happy sound of folks visiting.

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This time of year, with it not quite time to think spring, I turn my thoughts to those who lived here long ago. They come in as residents and almost always leave as friends who will be missed.

There was Charlie Kersien, who made it his job to put up and take down Old Glory. You should have seen how fast he grabbed his jacket to take her down when rain threatened. Charlie was royally disgusted when regulations changed and the flag could be left up. Not at Shady Lane it wasn't left up -- not while Charlie lived here.

While Jack Viken was never accused of having much patience, he was a favorite. Jack was a quiet man, unless riled for some reason, and still handsome. I have told you before about his being an ace in the Pacific Theater, and about his jacket-full of medals he didn't want or asked for. He was a bit younger that most of our folks.

Jack's other talent aside from flying bombers was clearing a pool table, something he'd had a lot of time to perfect in all those hours in barracks. Whenever I saw a young person waiting, while his mother visited, I would invite him to play a game with one of our fellows.

With so many wheelchairs, canes and walkers in sight, they almost always said sure, they'd give some old guy a game. I would round up Jack and we'd head down the hall to the pool table. Jack loved these times.

They almost always let "the old guy" go first. When Jack pocketed the first few balls, they gave him a benevolent smile or pat on the back and said, "Hey, nice going'." When he pocketed balls the next three or four shots, they started really paying attention.

When the table was cleared, and they hadn't gotten in a shot, they were flabbergasted. They always wanted another game, with their turn to get the first shot, with the same result. All they ever got was that one shot. I always reveled in the times one of my guys took on the community and won.

There were many more resident friends who made the job a delight. There was Oscar Sanderson from Motley, who made it his daily chore to pull out his whiskers rather than shave.

How about our Willie Nelson? When Chuck Visher brought a couple of wrestlers out to put on a fight in the middle of the dining room, it was our Willie, down on his knees, to count one of them out, a spot he had filled many times.

Our little Herb Kendls' job had been with a band. He played the drums to perfection. The Sebeka band teacher was so impressed he borrowed Herb a couple of times a year.

There were many more who got a few flashes of the limelight and loved it.

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