10/06/10 — Seniors showcase their talents

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Seniors showcase their talents

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on October 6, 2010 1:46 PM

Women at the senior citizens contest at the fair Tuesday got some sage advice on how to get a man from one of the contestants, comedian Minnie Pearl -- use a bear trap or hog-tie him.

Minnie -- aka Goldsboro's own Gretchen Jordan -- had some other comical words of wisdom for those in the audience, and that earned her a first-place win in the competition.

Decked out in a colorful flower print dress trimmed with white lace and wearing a white hat with multicolored flowers on it, the 60-year-old Mrs. Jordan did a Minnie Pearl impersonation for her talent during the senior citizens contest, telling about life in her hometown and even singing a song on how to catch a man, according to the Minnie Pearl plan.

When she heard her name called out for the first place award, Mrs. Jordan said winning wasn't the important thing. The important thing was having a good time and helping those attending the event to also have a good time.

"I felt real honored when they called my name," she said. "I'm just so proud to be here."

When she was first asked to compete, Mrs. Jordan had no idea what she would do. But she knew she wanted it to be something fun.

"I was here to have a good time today," she said. And that was evident by her comical routine.

The competition had a little bit of everything this year, including a presentation on what each of the 13 folds in the American flag mean by 62-year-old Betty Thatcher-Daw. While two members of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's honor guard folded a flag, Mrs. Thatcher-Daw explained that the first fold symbolizes life, the second eternal life and the third honors and remembers the veterans who gave their lives for this country. Other folds stand for our country, motherhood, fatherhood and tributes to the Armed Forces and to the one who entered the valley of the shadow of death for us. The 13th and final fold is for our trust in God.

"It's high time Americans get re-educated about this country's history," Mrs. Thatcher-Daw said as she finished her presentation.

Learning the meaning of the 13 folds of the flag has given Mrs. Thatcher-Daw a renewed sense of pride. "And I think it will change the way people see a flag at a funeral," she said.

Changing people's attitudes about what a rescue squad does was what 71-year-old George Williams' talent was all about. He was a volunteer with the Goldsboro Rescue Squad for 15 years and saw things that most people will never -- and should never -- see in their lives.

"Most people have no idea what it's even about," he said. "The rescue squad was a real challenge. I got on in 1983 and gave about 20 hours a week." That was in addition to his regular paying job.

His experience with the rescue squad included delivering seven babies. Those were joyous occasions.

Others were not. Like the time he pulled a 16-year-old drowning victim out of a pond.

"He had on nothing but one sock on his left food," Williams said. "I hooked him by that sock and pulled him up."

Williams even wore his old rescue squad uniform -- which still fit -- to the competition.

He said the very first day on the job changed him. "I was never one who could drive fast," he said. "The first time on the truck, my partner was driving and we were taking a patient to the hospital. I looked at the speedometer and he was going 105 miles an hour. I said 'Oh boy, this has got to change.'" But after that first day, going fast didn't bother him anymore.

He also told about the time that Dr. Tayloe called at 1 a.m. one morning needing the rescue squad to take a baby that had fallen out of a shopping cart and was dying to the hospital in Chapel Hill.

"Dr. Tayloe said the baby had to get to the hospital fast," Williams said. "I was at the hospital in 15 minutes. Then I drove from Wayne Memorial Hospital to Chapel Hill in 52 minutes."

During his 15 years on the rescue squad, Williams has seen everything there is to see, including people who had been decapitated, and it's made him appreciate life that much more.

Mary Jane Lancaster's appreciation of life can be seen in the paintings that she showed at the senior citizen contest.

Mrs. Lancaster knew she couldn't dance or sing so she decided to show various paintings she's done throughout the years. But they weren't the normal kinds of paintings.

There was a T-shirt, sweatshirt, flower pot, apron and even a quilt that the 78-year-old had painted.

She's been painting for years, her first art being Halloween posters for her children's school. She's also painted scenes for her church's Bible schools and Christmas programs.

"Painting keeps me occupied and makes me feel good," she said.

Judging the competition were Priscilla Ford, Chris Bitzenhoser and June Monk.

Special awards were presented to those attending: Hattie Leathers, 96, oldest; Dawn Jones, 43, youngest grandmother; John Dockery, most recent grandparent; Hazel Peacock, most children with 10 of her own; Nancy Hatch, most grandchildren with 40; Callie Parks, most great-grandchildren with 46; and Donald and Doris Herring, couple married the longest, 66 years.