The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 28, 2013

MICHELE M. BENDER | Warm and fuzzy


JOHNSTOWN — Well, “we had us” a summer! Probably not the one most people waited for, but chilly temps won’t stop customers in relentless pursuit of that last pierogi, funnel cake or halupki.

I enjoyed a warm, wonderful, “fuzzy” summer because I was able to get out more. I visited some area nursing homes, attended some festivals, made some wonderful new friends and even went “dancing” at a record hop.

In August, I wrote about and announced the winners of our search for Johnstown’s favorite rock ’n’ roll love song (“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers, in case you forgot.)

I was honored to share the stage with my friends, the Johnstown Classic Rockers.

And the fireworks Saturday night at the Richland Community Days outshone almost ANY I’ve ever seen, and I MEAN IT!

But it was cold that night, and a delightful young couple who just moved here from Seattle got a blanket from their car, wrapped me up in it and let me keep it! God bless them.

Hot fireworks, romantic music on a summer night, hot dogs with sauerkraut are all warmer-uppers, but the delightful folks I met warmed my heart most of all.

Jackie, a special new gal pal, invited me to the Lutheran Home, where a roomful of us reminisced about everything from clothing styles to Johnstown’s evolution.

Cathy, who shares my friend Denise’s love for animal print fashions, was my dance partner at Ace’s and again at the Windber Rec record hops. We had a “Watusi Circle” going at Ace’s with about 30 folks joining in (Call us the “Solid OLD Dancers!)

At Windber Rec, old church friends Kathy and Jack reminded me how to actually DO the “Crocodile Rock.”

I try hard to answer every E and letter I receive. (If I didn’t get to you yet, be patient.)

I love to hear your stories and opinions, and getting to know you.

I advised Francie B to attend her high school reunion this summer. Mine, last year, was great. Sharon C told me about her pink Jantzen bathing suit.

Particularly during the song survey, so many of you wrote not just titles, but shared treasured memories, and for that, I am “Beholden.”

I know I mentioned the hit-and-run accident in August (they hit ... then RAN). My car, Bailey Bender, celebrated his 10th birthday at the body shop, but still received two “get-well” cards and one birthday E. The folks at the body shop actually sang to him. His hemorrhoid has nearly healed.

Speaking of hemorrhoids, I thank the anonymous tipsters who tried to spot “Mr. Speedy,” our felon. I’ve passed along all the info I received.

Our world ... well, MY WORLD, is full of fun, sentimental, precious, endearing people.

On Tuesday in Ebensburg, I met five folks who recognized me from the column, and made four more friends who stopped along the road to help me solve a problem.

So, write, E, say “hi” when we’re out. I know winter’s coming, but I feel warmer already.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of  The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.