Seniors Situation Room by Dawn Ford – Drive Ins & Senior Exercise APRIL 2, 2017



Cornwall Ontario – Spring is flirting with us right now. May be warm. Maybe not!! We are all looking forward to putting on a light jacket and getting rid of the winter boots. Soon we will see delicately coloured crocus buds peeping up through the earth and those gorgeous tiny waxy wrinkled green buds on a tree branch. I especially love that fresh light green shade of grass that only comes in the spring. Hurry, Spring. We are waiting.

In a Disabled Newsletter recently, there was an article about seniors who get regular exercise being able to lower their chances of severe mobility problems in the future. It states that nearly one in four adults 65 and older have trouble walking or climbing stairs and that 3.4 million older adults have trouble taking care of personal needs such as dressing and bathing. A team of researchers enrolled 1,635 adults between the ages of 70 and 89, all apparently at high risk of becoming physically disabled; one group in an exercise study and the other attending health information sessions. At the end of the study, people in the exercise group experienced a lower level of severe mobility problems. The research was done by the Health in Aging Foundation, a national non-profit organisation of the American Geriatrics Society. Go to to read the article or go to

Here is a photo below from about 2000, of the late Claude Bourdeau giving instructions on Tai Chi movements to a man who was totally blind, assisted by Marie Greffe.


I first met Claude when I took Tai Chi lessons, given by Lance Carr in Claude’s Cornwall School of Martial Arts. It was housed at that time, in the late 1980’s, in the upper storey of what we still call the ‘old bus terminal’ on Second Street West.

Later, the late Dorris Turner and I used to attend some of Claude’s classes given at the Knights of Columbus Hall and also at the Centre Charles-Emile Claude. In the mid ’90’s, Claude opened his Dojo at the former Wesleyan Church building on Third Street West. He was professionally a Security Guard at the Cornwall General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Villa. I remember him as a kind and very very patient man who was lots of fun. Claude died suddenly in 2007 and was greatly missed by everyone who knew and loved him. He left us lots of wonderful memories.

Marie continues to teach Tai Chi at the Seaway Seniors Citizens Center and is a volunteer instructor at the Heritage Heights Retirement Home.

According to the internet, a Dojo is a Japanese term which literally means “place of the way”. Apparently, Dojos were initially adjunct to temples. The term also refers to a formal training place for any Japanese arts ending in ‘do’ meaning ‘way’ such as Judo.

Tiger, my cat, may be a bit of a monkey sometimes but he is lovey-dovey a lot of the other times too. If he isn’t trying to perch on my chest or stomach when I am laying down, he curls around my side with his head on my elbow (nice soft pillow) and lays his paw on my arm as if to say, ” Gotcha now”. Then it is’purr..purr..purr”. It is very cute if he goes to sleep for awhile but sometimes he decides instead to have a bath.

Then it is up and down, slurp, slurp as he wets his paws and cleans his ears or doubles over to wash his tummy. And heaven forbid if I try to pat him after his bath. A human has touched him and he has to wash again. What a big baby!! At this moment, as I am typing this, he has curled up and is sound asleep on my housecoat which I had left on the bed for a few minutes earlier. I didn’t have the heart to move him since he looked so content. Big big baby? My fault.


Remember the days of the drive-in-theatres? It was so great to be outside watching a movie. With the windows open, we got a nice breeze, ate popcorn and just relaxed as we were entertained. Wonder why they petered out?

Some people say it was because of the arrival of the videos but it was so nice to be outside in the fresh evening air. Wish we still had one around with the warm weather coming.

In Cornwall there used to be one at the corner of Pitt Street and Toll Gate Road. The screen faced west. My older sister lived on the Tollgate Road and as young kids, my siblings and I often sat on her front porch and watched the movies. We couldn’t hear it but we didn’t really care. She made us popcorn and we had a great time. Nice memory.

From my old photo album of my high school days, here are some CCVS beauties with me. We are on Wendy Moore’s front porch on Adolphus Street following a CCVS football game., I think. We sure look like we were having a good time.

In the back row, from the left is Myrna Plumley and Betty Shaver.

Front row from the left is Cynthia Nyman, me and Ruth Rice.

I was sitting with a friend during the night in the ER of our hospital. A nurse arrived with a computer on a cart to attend to him and I couldn’t help but marvel at the changes from my old nursing days. Her name was Jennifer and was a wonderful nurse. She had a little hand held gadget that scanned my friend’s name tag on his arm for identification. Also, she took his temperature by just using another little hand-held gadget that scanned his forehead. Just like ‘Star Trek’. In my days of nursing, we had to soak the used mercury thermometers in a Dettol solution and stand there and shake them all down again.

I had some flashbacks of the old days in the 1960’s of our little ER room at the back of the Cornwall General Hospital that was used when an out-patient needed some medical help. I was talking about it with my friend Veronica MacDougall who is a grad from the old Hotel Dieu in the 1960’s. She said they didn’t have an ER room but rather it was called a Plaster Cast Room where they doctors would give medical aid to out- patients. We remembered the old oxygen tents in the rooms with a big sign on the door to make sure no one came in there with anything like a cigarette. Today there are just little hoses in your nostrils. Incredible changes with all the technology today and all for the better for the patient’s care.

While I was in the in the ER that night with my friend, a new patient arrived that was moaning and groaning. The poor soul sounded like he was in agony. I could hardly sit there. I kept having feelings of a need to go and help him, maybe comfort him. I have little thoughts like that whenever I am in the hospital visiting someone but this was an overwhelming feeling. Fortunately, something happened to help him, I guess, and he settled down. So did I. I guess the old nurse in me isn’t dead yet.

Here are a few cute jokes:

A sign read

a) In a Shoe Repair Store: “We will heel you. We will save your sole. We will even dye for you.”

b) At the Optometrist’s office:”If you can’t see what you are looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”

c) On a Plumber’s truck: “We repair what your husband fixed.”

d) At a Car Dealership: “The best way to get back on your feet – miss a car payment.”

e) Outside a Muffler Shop: “No appointment is necessary. We hear you coming.”

f) In a Veterinarian’s waiting room: “Be back in five minutes. Sit!.. Stay!…”

g) In the front yard of a Funeral Home: “Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”

h) At the Electric Company: “We would be delighted if you send in your payment on time. However, if you don’t, YOU will be de-lighted.”

i) On another Plumber’s truck: “Don’t sleep with a drip. Call the plumber.”

Have a good week, Dawn

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  1. Dawn that was so cute to see Tiger on your pillow. LOL LOL. Cats and dogs know where it is comfortable for them. When I walk on the streets nearby I see cats and dogs in the people’s windows and quite a welcoming committee. I have problems dealing with stairs and walking not like what I used to be. Tomorrow afternoon my daughter and I will go for a walk – we need it. Take care.

  2. Enjoyed the column. Great picture of our carefree high school days. We were so privileged to grow up in a town where we could walk everywhere. Wish the current decision makers could appreciate the benefits of that.
    Myrna Plumley

  3. The days of the Drive Ins were some of the best times in Cornwall – not much else to crow about. Another thing is getting around a great deal easier and that sure is true. I went out to the fabric store with my daughter yesterday and what a walk. When I arrived home I thought that I died. LOL LOL. I have to be getting old when I was young it didn’t seem as bad but nowadays it is way too much.

  4. When I look out from my balcony to see the distance that I walked yesterday it doesn’t look that bad. When you try to get a bird’s eye view and then actually walking the distance here in Ottawa it is something else. I am very sore today and in the tub I go. It is a good thing that I went yesterday and not today. My daughter came home like a drowned rat from work – lots of rain.

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