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January 2, 2001

Our neighborhood said goodbye the other day to another good friend. Frances Anderson died on Christmas Eve after an extended period of failing health, during which she endured about every pain and problem known to modern medicine. It has not been a happy time for her. Although we will miss her, no one doubts that she is more secure, safe and comfortable than she has been in a long while. Frances did not have a large family but she had a host of friends through her work in the Methodist church and Sunday school and the Golden Circle homemakers. She was queen of the kitchen at the church. Her culinary skills were demonstrated many times, including some of the periodic Ditch Witch fly-ins and the annual Lenten luncheons. She was our next door neighbor until conditions made it necessary for her to move to the Green Valley nursing home several months ago. Her friendship and dedicated service will be missed.

Our neighborhood is like many others in this close-knit little prairie town. Good people live here. Any pain or loss experienced by one home affects all the others, so we all grieve at the loss of Frances. This spirit is undoubtedly best exemplified by the tender affection of Otis and Jeanette Shelley who have looked after Frances in her declining years with a real demonstration of compassion and caring. They are like that because it is their nature to do so, and knowing that gives the rest of us a sense of security that cannot be purchased. We sadly say farewell to Frances, but at the same time we are glad to be reminded of the special nature of this neighborhood. It typifies the Perry community, and you just don't find that everywhere.

Glenn Yahn, the retired lumberman, turned 90 this year. Because of that birthday, he has accumulated some interesting nonagenarian commentaries, including the following by an anonymous wit:


We oldsters sure do get away with a lot just because we've managed to keep breathing longer than most folks. I have just celebrated my 90th birthday and I've got it made. If you forget someone's name or an appointment or what you said yesterday, just explain that you are 90 and you will be forgiven. If you spill soup on your tie or forget to shave half your face, or take another man's hat by mistake, or promise to mail a letter and carry it around in your pocket for two weeks, just say, "I'm 90, you know," and nobody will say a thing.

You have a perfect alibi for everything when you're 90. If you act silly, you're in your "second childhood." Being 90 is much better than being 70. At 70 people are mad at you for everything, but if you make it to 90, you can talk back, argue, disagree and insist on having your own way because everybody thinks you are getting a little soft in the head. They say that life begins at 40. Not true. If you ask me, life begins at 90.

Mr. Yahn may not be as steady on his feet as he once was, but he has lost none of that great sense of humor which made the now-defunct Broke and Bankrupt Order of Poor Boys such a great organization back there in the Great Depression.