Bustling with activity


No shortage of programs at the Senior Center of Finney County.

No shortage of programs at the Senior Center of Finney County.



There is no shortage of activities for seniors, or for that matter, anyone who wants to participate in the programs at the Senior Center of Finney County.

Not only is there variety, but many of the activities have resulted in lasting friendships.

One group of women have made a custom of participating in Irene Unruh's art class, held every Thursday at 10 a.m. at the center, 907 N. 10th St.

"This is our art therapy class," Merlene Wampler said, as she put the finishing touches on her watercolor painting.

Unruh said, "We always laugh and say we might learn 5 percent and the rest is social."

Wampler is the troublemaker of the class, according to Unruh.

"I always have that kind," Unruh said, laughing and pointing at Wampler. "I give these guys trouble, but it's really kind of quiet around here when she's not here."

Betty Dague, who also likes to think of herself as a troublemaker, said, "Somebody's got to liven it up. If Merlene ain't here, I have to take over."

Dague and Jane Embree are another troublesome duo, who like to poke fun at each other during the class.

"Betty and I get in trouble when we're here," Embree said.

"We get told to be quiet," Dague said.

Faye Doyle, Gail Traugott and Margaret Besthorn are the most well-behaved of the women, who listened closely as Unruh gave some pointers.

"You wet your whole sheet first, the whole sheet of paper and then you just drop in color, and then we let that dry. You may want to kind of do two at once, so while one's drying you don't just sit there and cause trouble," she said, clearing her throat as if to implicate Wampler.

"I wasn't listening. Did she say something?" Wampler said.

Unruh laughed and continued her instruction.

"And then once you get your color on there, then we go back and look to see what we think we can make out of it. As you see, this kind of worked out well for a landscape. I was trying to use just mainly the blues and the yellows and orange. This one, I kind of used every color there was, and it's kind of neat to find some of your edges that will work for a building or a tree or something," she said.

Despite the good-natured ribbing, the women have picked up quite a bit from Unruh over the months or years that they have been in her class.

"I started last May, and I've learned a heck of a lot, even though she says she doesn't teach much," Traugott said.

Dague showed Embree her finished work and said, "Three trees at sunset. Like it?"

"It looks upside down to me," Embree said, laughing.

At this, Dague turned it upside down and called it three posts in the moonlight, and then laughed.

When it comes down to it, the women are all friends.

"We have a carry-in dinner the first Thursday of every month at 11:30, and on the days we don't carry in, we go to lunch anyway," Wampler said.

The Senior Center also offers daily lunches, on site. Carol Wigner, nutrition site manager, said she fed close to 75 people on Thursday.

"A lot of people think it's just Meals on Wheels. They don't know that we have in-house lunch every day," Wigner said.

Other activities offered at the senior center include line dancing every Wednesday morning at 8:30, exercise classes every Thursday at 11 a.m., writing classes every Thursday at 1 p.m., Zumba courses every Monday at 5:30 p.m., and a number of card games are scheduled throughout the week, including bridge, pinochle and Skip-Bo.

"This group is learning how to play Skip Bo. They don't take it very seriously, and they have a good time. It exercises the brain, and it's fun. Other card groups are very serious," said Barbara Jensen, executive director of the senior center, referring to bridge and pinochle.

At that moment, a group of women were learning how to play pinochle from Jeanette Taylor.

"I don't know if you could call me a teacher. I'm just showing them. I can't explain it. I probably show it better than I can explain it," Taylor said.

One of the main objectives of the game is to bid based on cards in one's hand. Otherwise, the game is complicated enough that it requires sitting down and practicing.

"Doing it is the only way you can learn it," Taylor said.

While the women practiced up on pinochle, dominoes and snooker were being played in another room. Dale Taylor and John Ortega were playing snooker Thursday afternoon.

"I come down and amuse the old fellas," Dale Taylor said, laughing.

Neither he nor Ortega admitted to being very good at snooker.

"All the good players are all over there," Ortega said, calling them pool sharks. "All the fishes are over here."

Snooker is as complex as pinochle, in how the game is played, but Taylor explained some of the rules.

"If you make a red ball, then you can shoot any number ball and then you spot the number ball back up (on the table). You leave the red ball in the pocket, then when the red balls are gone, you start shooting in rotation, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6," Taylor said, as Ortega made a shot that trapped the cue ball in a position where Taylor couldn't make any points from it.

"That's the point of the game," Ortega said, laughing. "To snooker him."

Taylor said that the duration of each game depends on shooting skills.

"I couldn't shoot it straight. I had to bank it. He had me behind the six ball, and I couldn't go for the red ball without banking for it," he said, explaining how Ortega snookered him. "He took me on because he can beat me."

Taylor said his game is dominoes.

"I win some, and I lose some," he said.

For more information on the Senior Center, visit its website at www.seniorcenterfc.com or call 272-3620.

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