Partying to the nines

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

It’s unbelievable that Harvey White and I are the two longest employed people at the paper and also celebrate birthdays three days apart

– his Jan. 24 and mine is Jan. 27.

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I also share Jan. 27 with two of my Les Gemmes Inc. sisters – Audrey Knight and Gracie Eure and I want to wish them a happy birthday also. We Aquarians are truly beautiful people.

Last Friday our co-workers decided to give us a joint pizza party in honor of our special days. They also presented us with a gift – I received a beautiful earring and necklace set and Harvey received a restaurant gift certificate. We appreciate the generosity.

Some people are always asking me, &uot;When are you going to start breaking?&uot; Who wants to break? If I could, I would look 21 until I was 121. I wonder why after 21 years of age, anyway, birthdays seem like they are on a speedway and that when you reach the nines you sometimes become terrified because another decade is just around the corner.

Like Jack Benny, my secret is to think 39 at every birthday and to use a favorite makeup line, the whole nine yards – body baths and lotions.

And of course, you all know my favorite form of exercise – dancing. My bowling scores weren’t bad either when the company went to Chesapeake as a group about three Sundays ago for a bowling party.

All work and no play – you know the deal, and we employees at the Suffolk News-Herald really know how to do it.

I remember that at 19 I became terrified that I was no longer a teenager; at 29 I was the mother of a one-year-old son and maybe one day would be somebody’s grandmother; at 39, I was terrified that I was going to start wrinkling and of course breaking on my 40th birthday; and at 49, I wondered if I would be able to keep on dancing like I was since many of my friends talked of having arthritis and it ran in my family. Now, I am at another nine in my life and none of these things have happened.

I do admire Harvey and look up to him because I am using him as my role model. He is a little older than I and still has a pretty head of white hair that seems to be as thick as ever.

We sometimes go out on beats in other cities and I get to ride with him. He is still pretty alert to traffic and he isn’t slow about getting to a scene at all if you call him about an emergency photo shoot. Therefore, age isn’t slowing him down either.

Speaking of slowing down, I have had some really good parties in the past but decided to celebrate with another friend, Johnnetta Wood, who gave herself a big one in Hampton last Friday night even though her birthday was on Friday, Jan. 17.

I then remembered the discussion we reporters in the newsroom had about four days prior concerning my upcoming birthday and what I was going to do.

I was undecided at that time but since Stephen Cowles knew how I loved dancing, he told me about a story he heard of an elderly man in his 70s dancing and suddenly collapsing on the floor and dying. &uot;Oh well, he died doing what he loved doing best,&uot; he said.

&uot;Oh, don’t pay any attention to him, go on out and have yourself some fun while you still can,&uot; said Barbara Allen.

However, before I could get to that party in Hampton, everything that could happen did to keep me from getting there on time.

The party was supposed to start at 6:30. I went out to the car at 4:30 to go home to dress. I had a flat tire. However, Jason Norman bought me a can of tire repair and said that it was a birthday present. That didn’t work. Therefore, I called my son who after some time trying to get his jack to act right changed the tire.

Allison Williams decided to stick around until he did in case he had to use hers; and the editor, Andy Prutsok; went out to his car to get an air pump if I needed it. I really work with some cool people who care about me. I can’t ask for better.

My friends with whom I was supposed to ride, waited for me an extra hour and we made the party behind schedule but still had a great time.

I began to realize that God was showing me that I had the most precious gifts in the world on a very special day – good friends and co-workers who care.

I then remembered the funny birthday card that Allison picked out for the entire staff to sign. They

presented it to me along with the gift at the party and I laughed every time I think about it. It states, &uot;The secret to looking young is to always stand next to people who look older than you.&uot; The picture on the front of the card is a cartoon version of

perky young people and elderly ones with white hair, glasses and wrinkles. In groups of twos a young person and an old person are standing side by side.

Harvey probably doesn’t know to this day why I was walking closer than a shadow to him the remainder of that day.

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer for the Suffolk News-Herald.