Bee Spells F-U-N for Senior Citizens

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2006

SYBENE — Pat Boster carefully reads the words from her extensive list she keeps in a spiral-bound notebook.

“This is a hard one,” she tells the all-female group gathered at the Lawrence County Senior Citizen Center at Sybene. “Mechanism. Mech-a-nis-m. Mech-a-nis-m. Mechanism.”

Boster, a volunteer at the center, hosts a spelling bee, of sorts, each Thursday morning for those who are up for the challenge. Most weeks, she said, it’s a group of about 15 women circled up spelling and laughing during the friendly competition where Boster said everybody is a winner.

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“I’m disabled. I’ve had a stroke and this really is good for your mind,” said June Joyce, a Crown City resident who is the youngest of the spellers at 64. “It helps me get back into life and it’s fun to come out here and be with people.”

All of the words Boster gives the women during their hour together are taken out of newspapers, she said, and are words that people use everyday. They range from “benefited” and “diplomas” to “ocean” and “sexual” — one that made some of the women giggle when Boster asked for the correct spelling.

“I knew we’d know this one,” she joked with the women.

Boster, who was recently named as Sybene’s Senior Citizen of the Year for her work at the center, said she enjoys the weekly contests almost as much as those who attend do. Each week, she said, she gives the spellers a new word and its definition to keep them on their toes.

“It really is a lot of fun,” she said. “We have our regulars and then we also have new people coming in, too.”

Marietta Snider, 89, is new to the group and is currently the oldest. She said she likes to keep on her toes and has always been a pretty good speller.

The women say spelling keeps the wheels churning in their heads, but the weekly bee is also a way to socialize and spend time with others.

“I just come here to meet a man,” Alease Belcher said with a laugh. “I ain’t lying. I’ll just tell you.”

The other women, most of them widows, as well, shake their heads and joke, “They are all too busy playing pool over there.”

So far, no men have stepped up to the challenge, but the women are hoping that they will soon.

“Every time one (man) comes, somebody snatches him up,” Belcher said.