The wisdom of experience

Published 6:06 pm Sunday, January 4, 2015

On most weekdays Bogalusa’s Senior Center, located at 603 Willis Ave., is brimming with interesting people, all with a story. Most are ready and willing to share the wealth of information and insights they have garnered. Seniors are truly one of America’s most valuable resources — they have stood the test of time and are a veritable storehouse of knowledge.

New Year’s Eve was no exception to this rule. Ninety-year-old Vallerine Whitaker and her buddy, Mattie Wallace, broke bread and spent some time reminiscing. Whitaker loves staying active and enjoys the camaraderie of her friends at the center. Wallace, much like the late Jack Benny, adamantly claimed the perpetual age of 39 and scoffed at anyone who begged to differ.

No prodding was necessary for Wallace to whisk listeners from the beautifully decorated room at the center to D.H. Holmes in New Orleans a few years past.

Wallace said, “I worked as a bridal consultant for many years at D.H. Holmes. Young ladies came in full of excitement about their upcoming weddings, and I helped them pick out their china, crystal and silver patterns.”

She remembers her many customers as being pleasant and easy to work with.

Jim Kemp loves coming to the Senior Center, mostly to socialize and talk. He was originally from Pearl River but now calls Bogalusa home. Kemp’s easy manner and quick wit help him to make friends wherever he goes.

Lucille Smith enthusiastically shared stories of her life and travels. The 84-year-old Smith worked for more than 30 years at Rosenblums and Calvary Baptist Church, collectively. When this time of Smith’s life came to a close, she was ready for something new and exciting.

In the ‘90s Smith found herself on the road to a new adventure, both literally and figuratively. She began organizing tours for Diamond Tour Co. and stored up many wonderful memories of her adventures traveling around the country with them.

According to Smith, “I would choose a tour and find people interested in making the trip. I had to find at least 35 people to commit in order to book the tour, but usually I easily found more than that.”

Smith vividly remembers her trip to Branson, Mo., as one of

her favorites.

The bus picked up the lively and excited travelers at Hardee’s, and away they went. The group stopped in Little Rock, Ark., on the way up and arrived in Branson just in time for the first show featuring Buck Trent. After a day filled with fun the group enjoyed a delicious and relaxing dinner aboard a paddle wheel cruising on the beautiful lake.

Seniors these days are more active and enjoying a better quality of life than ever before. Bogalusa’s Senior Center provides area seniors with a wholesome environment to enjoy a hot lunch and make new friends. Shirley Cooper, meal site manager, takes special care to maintain a pleasant environment for exactly that to happen.

More information about services offered and transportation may be obtained by calling Clarnetta Arrington, transportation director, at 985-732-6868.