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Market Crash No Big Deal at Moosehaven

November 9, 1987

ORANGE PARK, Fla. (AP) _ For the 500 residents of Moosehaven, a bucolic retirement community just south of Jacksonville, Wall Street’s crash of 1929 is much more vivid and frightening than the 1987 version.

The retirees, all members of the Loyal Order of Moose and their wives or widows, say Social Security and their fraternal lodge will protect their safe harbor today.

″There are just too many backups today; people have pensions, they have Social Security and the banks are insured now. It’s not at all like it was in 1929,″ said Bob Cottingham of Laguna Hills, Calif.

A shiver seemed to pass through a group of Moosehaven residents as they sat around a table remembering the events of 1929.

″I was just a little girl, and I can still see my father crying when he came home from work that day,″ a woman in the recreation room recalled. ″It was terribly frightening.″

Emma Hughes, 79, from Monongahela, Pa., said she vividly remembered when ″the president of our bank jumped out a window and killed himself.″

The market crash and ensuing Great Depression left such scars that only two of the nine persons at the table ever dared venture into the stock market in the decades that followed.

″It made lots of people, especially working people, a little gun shy,″ said Floyd ″Pappy″ Hall of Salinas, Calif.

″And with good reason,″ replied John Friese, a retired Greyhound bus driver from Baltimore. ″I got just 20 cents on the dollar when I withdrew my savings from the bank a couple of years after the crash.″

At Moosehaven, with its residential cottages, dining halls, $2 million nursing center, general store, barber-beauty shops and numerous recreation facilities, residents say they feel insulated from the outside world. They joke about their ″Moosehaven Cadillacs,″ the large tricycles they use to zip around the 61-acre campus. In truth, they have left the world of stocks and bonds far behind.

″We turn everything we own over to the Moose and are guaranteed lifetime care in return,″ said Cottingham. ″In addition to our pensions, a portion of the membership’s dues also is used to operate Moosehaven. The lodges are always doing something for the people here, whether it’s donating money for a new residence hall or buying somebody an electric motor for his bike.″

He acknowledged the arrangement wasn’t for everyone but said most residents were contented.

Another resident, 65-year-old Frank Hill, said the most frequent complaints came from picky eaters.

″I tell them so what if they don’t like their lunch? We’ll be fed again in three hours. Nobody’s gonna starve here.″

Hill fiddled with a jigsaw puzzle in the recreation center as he discussed why he felt so secure at Moosehaven.

″See this puzzle,″ he said. ″It has 1,500 pieces but back in Los Angeles, after my wife died, I used to work ’em with 15,000 pieces. I’d do them on the dining room table because I never used it for anything else and the puzzles gave me something to do, kept me from thinking about things I didn’t want to think about.″

He smiled and said, ″I’ve been here a year now and would you believe that I remarried two months after I arrived? Well, my wife had an operation recently and was in intensive care for days. I don’t even know how much it cost because it was all taken care of. Believe me, it would be hard for me to tell you what this place means to me.″

At Moosehaven, which first opened in 1922, residents may keep $25 a month for personal expenditures. Those who are able help with maintenance chores or work as nursing aides.

Unlike some of their counterparts in the fancy condos that line the Florida coast, Moosehaven’s residents don’t frequent the expensive shops, but they don’t lose sleep about their stock portfolios, either.

″Oh, we keep up with what’s going on in the world,″ Mrs. Hughes said. ″However, our worries at this point are mainly for our children, for the young people out there. It could be tough for them, but we feel safe here at Moosehaven.″

End Adv Sunday Nov. 8

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