Features

Senior Citizen Day surprises at Mt Hood

ůsome new discoveries for long time residents of Melrose.

by Debbi Collar


Mt. Hood Park association featured speaker Lindsay
Beal

photos by Don Norris and Debbi Collar

Casting off her hiking boots and  everyday outdoor gear,
Middlesex Fells Reservation Vice Chair, Volunteer
Coordinator and hike leader Lindsay Beal, trekked over to
the Mt. Hood Clubhouse in Melrose to address a Senior
Citizen Day Luncheon about hidden treasures in area parks
as well as some safety tips recommended for generations
of various age ranges.

Joking with her audience, following her introduction, she
mentioned that she did not have "as much experience as
Jean Dolan , who, at the age of 100 is still leading hikes. I
am guessing Myron (Myron Dittmer, President of the Mt.
Hood Park Association) was not able to book her so you are
stuck with me."

Beal said her interest in her job stems from early childhood
memories she experienced with her grandfather. One of the
memories had its similarities, she says, to the book,
"Blueberries for Sale." Beal notes that although her
experience was not quite the same as all of the events in
Robert McCloskey's book, she herself remembers days of
picking blueberries.

Active seniors were also reminded that on walks through
the woods, it is best to be prepared. Whether with friends
or grandchildren, the suggested rule, according to Beal is
"Be prepared." Showing a Powerpoint presentation, the first
slide was of a poison ivy plant. It was one that she said all
"should take care to avoid it and yes, it does change colors
in the fall."

Other suggested preparations included:

- Wear proper gear, which included but was not limited to
layering and comfortable shoes
- Make sure you have a map with you.
- Carry protein snacks (one of her family favorites is
Triscuits and Sardines). However, she added she
understands that that might not be
a favorite of others and suggested hard boiled eggs or beef
jerky.
- Use the buddy system (travel with a friend)
- Carry a whistle
- Carry an umbrella (understanding as well that  a walk in
the woods also means the trees act as a canopy to the rain,
therefore, the weather outside of the parks may be a bit
different.

At this point, Myron Dittmer interjected, " always know your
terrain," recalling his experience in traversing over many
rocky trails on a hike in the woods with his grandson.
Continuing with the safety tips, Beal reminded the Seniors
at the luncheon that, when walking the trails, it is always ...

- Best to "carry a walking stick (and she demonstrated one
of the styles that folds for easy carrying.)
- It's best to wear light colors and synthetic clothing is best
as it dries out easily.
- A hat.
- Yak traks (for winter hiking)
- Sun screen
- Water
- Cellphone
- Flashlight
- Headlamp
- Carry a tick knife

... and as you exit the park be sure to "Leave the land as
you found it." "Last, but not least," she said,"do a tick check
upon your return."


Louise Fennell

One of our own Melrose Mirror contributors also spoke to
the audience just before lunch. Louise Fennell, who also
produces the local cable station's TV program, "Have you
Been Here?," gave a brief history of the Melrose Mirror and
its start over 20 years ago when MIT students and former
Boston Globe editor Jack Driscoll began the organization.
Fennell, encouraged seniors to join The Melrose Mirror
contributors "write about everyday things" as she has done,
along with other writers. Some of her stories have even
included a trip she took to the Galapagos Islands.  

The Melrose Mirror has now survived 20 years. It is
published the first Friday of each month. All members are
there to help with writing or photography and "it's a very
friendly group."

President of the Mt. Hood Park association Myron Dittmer
gave a presentation of the history of the park and of
Slayton Tower before a hearty group of Seniors ascended
the spiral staircase within the tower to view the Boston
skyline, Revere Beach and the White Mountains of NH.

Near to the tower is a memorial to Major Doake Weston,
check out our previous issues, September 4th, 2015,
entitled "The Green Jewel of Melrose," which includes an
interview with Dittmer regarding the park history. A piece
of that history is noted in the actions of one brave man, "On
September 25th of 1945, California native, Major Doake
Weston gave his life to save the lives of his five man crew in
a B25 bomber".

He told his crew to bail out when its engine caught fire. In
doing so, he not only saved the lives of his crew but the
lives of many who lived in Melrose and its surrounding
communities. A memorial bench and a marker were
recently placed at the site where a stone "castle" known as
"Slayton Tower" stands.


                       
                            

                                         
Slayton Tower and Memorial site of Major Doake
Weston


Also in attendance in the luncheon were Ward 6 Alderman
Peter Mortimer and special guests Joseph and Patricia
Doucet. The couple were married 61 years ago at St.
Joseph's in Malden. Their reception held at the Mt. Hood
Clubhouse. The photo of their wedding was shown to
luncheon guests  by Dittmer.  


Doucet photo

Later, they too, made the trip to the tower and discussed
their May wedding, They chose Mt. Hood's Clubhouse for
their reception, as "Mt. Hood didn't serve liquor at that time
and we loved the look of it." Patricia added of their wedding
day, "It seems like yesterday." Joseph was originally from
Melrose. She grew up in the Maplewood section of Malden
and loves "the country feel of Melrose" in comparison to
the busy streets of her former city."  


Joseph and Patricia Doucet & William and Betty Fondulis


Others enjoying the view at the top of the tower were
another couple, William Fondulis and his wife, Betty.
William, born in Melrose but today marked the first day he
ascended to the top of Slayton Tower. The spiral staircase
inside the tower, as well as the view enticed him enough
that he says "I'll have to come up more. Note."May 10th,
the date of the luncheon, was also his wife, Betty's Birthday.
Both enjoyed  each of the presentations.



Fran Sarno and Gilda Feretra

Fran Sarno said what brought her to Senior day was to see
what was available at Mt. Hood. She was surprised at the
view as she said, "I've lived here 46 years and I am still
discovering things in Melrose. The Senior Luncheon food,
she said, "was excellent."

Faretra says "everyone should come to it." The friends were
surprised to see each other at the event as neither had
mentioned to the other that she was going to take part in
this event. Both had attended Everett High School. Gilda
Faretra talked about the speakers at the program, "They
were excellent," and recommends "everyone should come
to Senior Day."  A lot of people aren't aware of what we
have in Melrose." Those unable to walk the distance to the
tower were transported to an area near to the tower by
minibus where they were able to relax and enjoy the views
in chairs set out for them by the Mt. Hood Park Association.


Sheila Geehan and others who made the climb to the
top of Slayton Tower to see some spectacular views


Sheila Geehan, on the steps up to Slayton Tower, said it was
her 4th year attending Senior Day  She said " I absolutely
adored the program. You don't realize how much history is
here in Melrose."


Friends pointing out the ocean view seen from Slayton
Tower at the Mr. Hood Golf Course


Tom Litrenta commented ,after reaching the top of Slayton
Tower, that the ogram "was very well done, it was very
informative and what had brought him to the luncheon was  
the "great memories" he had of Mt. Hood."  His friend,
Manny Rainho said he,too, "enjoyed it very much."

It was Beal who recalled a saying hike leaders use daily at
Middlesex Fells Reservation, ""Children don't remember the
best days of television. Children need to get out there
(nature hikes, etc..) and want to have those memories
"meaning more than television  programs or computer
games can give them.

The same can be said for Senior Citizens spending time
with their grandchildren or other family members.  Those
memories will last a lifetime.


Ward 6 Alderman Peter Mortimer and Mt. Hood Park
Association President Myron Dittmer


Mt. Hood Park Association President Myron Dittmer added
that he hopes to assist in making those memories happen
for families with pressure being put on areas that have
"open spaces to build more apartment complexes or
nursing homes," Dittmer plans on continuing the fight  not
only to preserve Mt. Hood but "Keep them (parks very
where) not only for yourselves but for future generations,"
and asked the same of luncheon guests, Dittmer asked the
seniors to "help preserve this great park."



***The third sponsored event by the Mt. Hood Park
Association will take place July 4 ***

                                
June 3, 2016
 


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