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Youthful spirits keep VFW breakfast hopping

October 05, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

Maybe there's something in the sausage.

Entering the front door of VFW Post 1936 at 70 E. Washington St. early on a Saturday morning, it's dark and very quiet, evoking a lonely and almost eerie feeling. But follow your nose to the cafeteria and kitchen area. There, the atmosphere is festive and jovial as small groups of diners are abuzz and VFW Ladies Auxiliary members tend to a sizzling home-cooked breakfast.

It might call to mind Dorothy going from the black and white of Kansas into the color of Oz. You might even wonder if the crowd, primarily comprised of senior citizens, has been granted tokens of youth - or maybe a special recipe? - to remind them that vim and vigor is theirs for the taking.

Take, for instance, small and spunky Betty Norris, 82, who moved to Hagers-town from Ohio three years ago.

"I'm a Buckeye!" she declares. Then, at her friends' prompting, she segues into a story of the time she got two black eyes playing leapfrog when she was 73.

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"We was all women reminiscing about childhood," Norris says. "I told them I liked to play leapfrog. 'Show me how!' they says."

It happened, she says, that she was wearing boot-type slippers with no traction.

"I told them to get down. I leapt over one, two, you know, I was going good," Norris says. "Then I hit the cement and seen stars."

"I looked like that black-eyed dog from RCA," she laughs.

Norris' friends seem equally lively.

Coriene Jackson of Hagerstown, a sturdy and self-assured women of 78, says age is relative; she usually tells people she's 39. She shares a story of the day one of her granddaughters became wise to her tale.

"My granddaughter said, 'You 39 and daddy is 40. How can that be?'" Jackson says. "I tell her sometime it happens that way, that's all."

Ginny Bussard of Hagerstown, an auxiliary member who briskly juggles cooking and serving duties, has a similar attitude. At 82, Bussard says, "I enjoy a lot of volunteer activities. Age doesn't matter to me."

Blanche Sowers, 76, of Mercersburg, Pa., the president of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, says she and about five other women prepare monthly fund-raising breakfasts of sausage, scrambled eggs, home fries, toast and coffee or orange juice. Around 45 to 50 people usually attend. Many of them are World War II veterans or wives of veterans who say they support the Veterans of Foreign Wars out of respect and honor.

Proceeds from the breakfasts - which cost $3.50 - go toward charity projects, some of which are funneled through the state and national VFW organization. Sowers says this year's focus project supports funding for research of multiple sclerosis.

And might there be something in that sausage?

"The meat comes from Hoffman's and it's real fresh," Sowers says. "Everybody loves it and different ones ask, 'Where did you get that sausage?'"

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