Strains of World War II songs and lively polkas ran through the meadows and fields surrounding the former Zerbe Sister’s Mansion in the Narvon countryside May 30.
The Garden Party theme carried throughout.
“We created an English Cottage garden filled with colorful plants and flowers with a white fence and bird bath on the Mansion’s front lawn,” said Cathy Clouse, Activity Director for Woodland Heights Retirement Community.
Residents Lee White, Gloria Paltry, Doris Pisotti and Betty Miller were selling the gardens’ plants and flowers as well as a long table of plants of all varieties that were donated by residents and friends of the village including Debra Hahn, a Berks County gardener.
Also on the front lawn was a ‘white elephant tent‘with lots of cool recycled treasures donated by the villagers. It was coordinated and manned by Joan Loudeman and Carol Rousch and several other residents.
‘Sentimental Journey’, the Big Band played: a Glenn Miller’s Medley; The Marine Anthem ; Sweet Georgia Brown; God Bless America, Stars and Stripes Forever and other favorites on the Mansion porch in front of a tent set up on the side lawn for guests to sit and enjoy the music, eat and socialize.
“We could listen to this all day,” said Woodland Heights’ residents Joan and Paul Prichard relaxing under the tent.
Community residents and World War II vets Harvey Walton (in the Navy for the Japanese Occupation) and Ed Lodge (an Army vet who was stationed in Europe during the war) both agreed, “We enjoyed eating especially the ice cream, listening to the music and the fellowship. This is a great community.”
The Lickity Split ice cream truck was a favorite….yummy was the common word from the crowd. Sara Faye offered up their scrumptious soft pretzels, fresh squeezed lemonade and southern brewed iced tea.
Girlhood friends who married brothers named Stoltzus now run their own ‘delicious’ business and had their children in tow. The popular Mansion chef prepared the grilled hot dogs and BBQ sandwiches being sold by volunteers.
Villager Charlie Roush, a volunteer for Reading’s Habitat for Humanity was selling a steady stream of items made by HFHBC’s (their Carpenter’s Club). Items included, blue bird houses, flower boxes, wine servers, dog lease holders, and cutting boards. The event was also a fundraiser for the organization with 50 percent of the profits going to the Berks County Chapter.
Roush explained, “Our mission is to transform lives and communities through the rehabilitation of housing. Selected families have to contribute 400 hours of sweat equity and meet income and residency requirements. They receive a no interest bank loan. People interested in participating may visit www.habitatberks.org.
On a more personal note he shared his story of marriage to a childhood sweetheart after both of their spouses had passed away and they met once again and started a new life at the Villages in Woodland Heights.
“We love it here, they take such good care of the properties. They make all repairs, remove snow, and mow. They even bring mulch and will spread it for you or drop it off for you to work with it. Their bus takes us on shopping excursions and we have quarterly fine dining in the Mansion along with yearlong social events like today.” Roush said.
Inside the Mansion, an Art Show organized by Cheryl Heinaman, Activity Director for the Zerbe Sisters Nursing Center was featuring artists’ work by Debra Hammond, Julian Clybourn, Still Waters Ministries, and Desi Heck.
Veteran’s Day will celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Mansion, The Zerbe Sisters, all nurses, founded the original nursing home by taking in people on a personal basis, word spread and they bought this larger property to expand to what today has grown into the multi centered business of today.
A visit to the Mansion takes a step back in history with photos and portraits of the sisters all dressed alike and the glamour of a beautifully appointed home.
An upcoming calendar of events include: Living History Day with War Encampments from the Revolutionary War, The Civil War and World War II ; a Fall Festival with a long standing tradition of making apple butter in a kettle over an open fire with people taking turns churning it most of the day, assorted crafts, antique cars, good food. music and much more. For more information go to www.zerbesisters.com or Call Director of Marketing, Lynne Bickta at 717-445-8741.