Thelma, Rosie retire from Legion

August 09, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING - When Thelma Clopper and Rosie Starliper got to figuring how long they'd worked at the Clear Spring American Legion, even they were amazed - they have 97 years between them.

"We were just always there," said Clopper, whose share of that tenure is 52 years. Starliper had a little more than 45 years under her belt when both retired last year.

The women were honored recently at a reception at the American Legion. Approximately 70 people attended. And somebody else was serving them for a change.


"I have lived in Clear Spring since I was married in 1937," Clopper said. She went to work at the Legion in 1953 when the building on South Martin Street was five years old.

She recalled being asked if she would "help out" one time when she was at the Legion. At that time, Clopper said, the second of her five sons was 4 years old.

"I'd cooked before and tended bar so I knew what to do," Clopper said.

The people were nice and she made a lot of friends, so she stayed. Now that she is retired, she said it's the people that she misses the most.

She cooked for a brief period but most of her career was spent waiting tables. The Legion is open from 5 to 10 p.m. during the week and from noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

When she arrived at the Legion for the tribute reception, Clopper said she couldn't get over how many people were there.

Starliper said her first days on the Legion staff began almost as unexpectedly as Clopper's.

"I was sitting there eating my supper on a New Year's Eve when I learned they needed help in the coatroom," Starliper said.

She started working then and when she said "see you later," the Legion management would say "tomorrow." That stretched into more than 45 years worth of tomorrows.

Both women said they also worked the big dances and for those occasions, there would be extra help. "Thelma would work bar-side along with two others," Starliper said.

"When there were dances, we'd alternate jobs," Clopper said. Someone would cut fruit, set up tables, serve upstairs on the dance floor and then go down and serve in the dining room.

"On some Saturdays, we would work late, until after midnight," Clopper said. And then they'd be back in at noon the next day.

Steak feeds and carnivals meant extra preparation duties. "I made coleslaw for 21 years," Clopper said.

In addition to her work at the Legion, Starliper put in 34 years in food service with the Washington County Public Schools. "I was at the Fairview Outdoor School when I retired in 1995," she said.

Over the years, the number of dances has been picking up. In addition, the Clear Spring Lions Club meets at the Legion and they would serve for those functions.

Now Clopper, 84, is keeping her own house and cooking and serving meals for family. Starliper, 71, said she spends most of her time at home, too.

"We both go to the Legion for lunches and dinners from time to time," Starliper said.

Always popular with the staff and clientele alike, Starliper and Clopper said they got a lot of ribbing when the movie, "Thelma and Louise" came out.

"Someone apparently told a visitor that we were Thelma and Louise but the man said he didn't know which was which," Clopper said.

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