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Hop to it for ‘Hop’ tickets

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By Fiona Blair

Hello Readers: Whew! Here we go again, just when you thought the cold spell had vanished, the “woollies” have to reappear. March came in like a lion, so perhaps we shall see it leave like a lamb as the saying goes. Stay warm out there.

Person of the Week

Russell Irish was born in Haynesville, Maine on July 25, 1918. He was the seventh of 10 children and during his early years, he worked with his father in the logging business.

In 1941, with a war looming, Russell enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was based in Baton Rouge, La. In 1943, he was shipped to England with the 8th Air Force and stationed in Steeplemorden, Cambridgeshire.

His service was helping keep the troops fed where he held the rank of mess sergeant. He served with the 355th Fighter Group. They flew Mustangs and later B-51’s and escorted B-17 bombers on their missions over mainland Europe.

The unit lost a high percentage of its young pilots, and there is a wonderful memorial in Steeplemorden to commemorate those lost. The land for the 355th memorial was donated by a local farmer. The dedication was held in the mid 1950s with many veterans in attendance, including Russell and his wife, Eileen.

While in England, Russell met his future wife, Eileen Reilly, in October 1943. Following a romantic courtship they married in September 1944 at St. Hughes Church,  Leichworth.

He went with his unit to Augsburg, Germany and returned to the U.S.A. in March 1946, following the cessation of hostilities in 1945. His bride, Eileen, followed in April on the Queen Mary. There were reported to be 2,500 war brides and 500 babies traveling as passengers on the trip.

Their first five years were spent living and working in New York City. In 1951, they moved to Bath, Maine, where Russell ran an automobile repair business until he lost a finger in an accident.

He changed occupations and worked 20 years for the Bath Iron Works. They built destroyers for the U.S. Navy. Eileen took various positions with Sears during this time. In 1988 they retired to their current home in Palm Cay.

Russell turned 90 last July, and this September will mark the couple’s 65th wedding anniversary. They were not blessed with children, but have been devoted and blessed with each other.

Thank you, Russell, for your dedicated service and for sharing your story with us. Belated birthday wishes and congratulations on your forthcoming wedding anniversary.

Thank you to Charles Boyle, Russell and Eileen’s nephew, who lives in Palm Cay as well, and was responsible for getting the “Irish” story to this writer.

Hop to It

The Flamingo Club’s at the Hop dance is tomorrow, Saturday. Have you got your tickets? It will be a lot of fun, especially hearing all the “old” songs again. Bring $1 for a $50 drawing.

Call Ruth Daldin for more information. Her number is in the Palm Cay directory.

Spring Dance

Sponsored by the Palm Cay Line Dancers, the Spring Dance will be full of Irish music from the artistry of Gloria and Mel. Tickets are $5 and there will be a 50/50 drawing and door prizes.

The dance is open to Palm Cay residents and their overnight guests. It is also a BYOB and BYOS (snacks). Sooooo, mark the calendar for March 14, from 7 to 11 p.m. and have a fine Irish evening.

Third Wednesday

Night Social

We will be blessed with the guest appearance of the Big Sun Chorus. Since it is the day after St. Patrick’s Day, the program will be filled with many Irish melodies.

Our very own Palm Cay resident, Bob Burk, is a member of this group. March 18 at 7 p.m., the Oasis will be filled with the lilt of the Irish voices, all for the price of $2.

Blood Drive

The Big Red Bus from Florida’s Blood Centers will be at the Oasis from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, March 18. As always, your “gift of life” is so very much appreciated.

Remember do not partake of coffee or tea, but eat breakfast. Jim and Marilyn Flynn are available to answer any questions, their phone number is in the Palm Cay directory.

Keep the faith … and may the good Lord bless each of you.

Until next time

There is box in the library at the Oasis for residents to place their newsy tidbits, group activity information, travels, etc. Fiona Blair is listed in the Palm Cay directory or e-mail to fiona-blair@hotmail.com.