For the last 19 years “Old Timers” have been gathering at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center in Kenai for what Joanne Hollier and Peggy Arness call the “Old Timers Lunch.” “Another Old Timers Luncheon has come and gone, we hope all who attended had a great time, visiting old friends while enjoying a delicious meal. From the sounds of the chatter the crowded room was full of happy old timers,” wrote Peggy Arness in an Applause letter written to the Peninsula Clarion. Arness and Hollier organize the event every year and say they started it not only for old timers to be able to get together and visit, but for anyone to come and join the fellowship and memories of the pioneers of our community.
It’s become a tradition for Arness to read clues about the mystery guest of the year recalling facts and historical events from the persons life until someone successfully guesses who it is, “But this year I ran out of clues and had to announce that it Dorothy Thompson, it may even have been a surprise to Dorothy,” laughed Peggy.
Along with the fun times that always come with the Old Timers luncheon are the solemn moments when the names of those who have passed on during the last year are read, “We seem to lose about a hundred every year, but our attendance is well over two hundred so we’re gaining,” said Hollier in an interview with the Dispatch. “Most of the folks make their reservations in advance because we hope we never have to turn anyone away, but we like a full house every year and the Kenai Senior Center goes out of their way every year to make a lovely turkey dinner with all the trimmings and this year we had rhubarb strawberry pie for desert instead of pumpkin and that was a big hit,” added Hollier. “Our kids serve the dinner every year with their aprons and of course many of our kids qualify as senior citizens themselves,” smiled Joanne.
As Jean Brockel stepped to the microphone to sing God Bless America everyone who was able spontaneously stood to their feet and joined in bringing a tear to many eyes. Joann and Peggy are already making plans for next year’s Old Timers Luncheon which will be the 20th anniversary of the event, “Thanks to the Senior Center with Rachel and her staff for all the extra work and confusion an affair of this size creates. They did, as always provide everything we needed which made for delightful lunch fun. Watch the papers for next year’s Old Timers Luncheon which will happen on the third Thursday of August 2012,” added Peggy Arness.