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On the Light Side

December 30, 1986

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Chances are Ken Poling won’t try playing Santa again. Giving away single shoes can be soul-trying work, he discovered.

Poling, an electrician at Thomas Memorial Hospital, recently found two large boxes of new shoes in a corridor outside the physical therapy department.

″They were all brand, spanking new shoes,″ he said.

But there wasn’t a matched pair in the lot.

He made a few inquiries and found the shoes were samples sent to the hospital by a local discount store thinking there would be amputees in physical therapy needing the incomplete pairs.

But the amputees get a prosthesis and need two shoes like everyone else.

″So I said I just knew there are people who, by George, can use them,″ Poling said. ″I got on the phone for an hour and called several places and they all said they couldn’t use them.

Eventually, he said he telephoned the Union Mission Settlement House and was told they would take the shoes. Arrangements were made for Mission workers to pick up the boxes this week.

Poling couldn’t understand why there was reluctance to accept the shoes and he admits his undertaking was frustrating.

″You try giving away one shoe,″ he said. ″You try it sometime.″


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Their average age is 85 and their wrinkles are untouched, but the residents of Ring Nursing Homes are hits as pinups.

They are the subjects of calendars produced for the residents and staff free of charge for the past three years.

″I’ve already given two away, and now my niece wants one, too,″ said Nicolina Caporale, 83, of Springfield, who as Miss August sports a straw cowboy hat.

With their large type and black-and-white photos, the calendars help orient confused residents and demonstrate to those outside ″the vitality, humanity and beauty that can exist in nursing home life,″ said nursing homes President Matthew J. Leahey.

″Miss April,″ for example, was photographed bowling before spectators in wheelchairs. ″Miss November″ held a copy of National Geographic beneath her spectacled nose. The centerfold wore pearls and a hospital wristband.

Other scenes show elderly residents hugging nursery school children, playing dominoes and posing with pets and stuffed animals.

Listed in easy-to-read type in the calendar section are such special events as 4th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival and chicken barbecue with staff.

″People who aren’t familiar with nursing homes were surprised that the residents look happy and busy in the pictures and that the inside of the nursing home is attractive and homey,″ Leahey said.

The pinups are not identified because a former resident complained that listing their ages was insensitive, Leahey said. He said he decided also to do away with the pinups’ names to encourage residents to work at recognizing the models.

He said the first batch of 400 calendars was quickly snapped up by the residents of the two Springfield homes and their families. A second printing of 400 calendars is also going fast as other relatives hear of the project.

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