Hawgeyes BBQ

2006 Senior Q

October 19, 2006

Stars of Sauce Host Senior Q

By Bill Bair
The Ledger

LAKE WALES - Clara Ivaldi recalls seeing the lights of New York from Ellis Island as she arrived from Canelli, Italy, at the age of 8.

Freddie Francis worked as a potato farmer in his native Michigan until he was in his 80s.

Together, Ivaldi and Frances represent 203 years of life.

Residents and staff at the Groves Center in Lake Wales celebrated the birthdays of the two residents Wednesday, with the help of 38 students and staff members of the Roosevelt Academy.

The birthday party coincided with a barbecue lunch prepared and catered by Roosevelt, which is participating in a second national contest sponsored by National Barbeque News magazine, the Kansas City Barbeque Society and the Iowa Barbeque Society.

The groups are sponsoring a contest by designating October 2006 as "Senior Q Month" and are challenging groups and individuals to provide a barbecue meal for senior citizens during this month.

The three groups want to "raise awareness of the importance of our elderly as a national treasure."

It's a message Roosevelt student Robby Renter, 16, has already learned.

"Everybody's a friend," Renter said of residents of the nursing and rehabilitation center, which he also visited on Veterans' Day.

Wednesday, students ate with and helped serve residents many times their ages.

Ivaldi, who turned 103 Saturday, said she has never been seriously ill.

She jokingly attributes her longevity to having never married.

Coming from Italy at age 8, she lived in New York until she was 69, working as an interior decorator and making lampshades.

She once sang with a chorus in Carnegie Hall.

From New York, she moved to Texas to live with a brother, then moved to Miami three years ago to stay with a nephew.

She lived in Miami for about three months, then moved to the Groves Center, where a cousin also was a resident.

Francis, who turned 100 Friday, said, "I don't feel much different than I felt 20 years ago."

At 80, he was still farming potatoes in Bentley, Mich., where he was born.

In 1984, he retired to Lake Wales, where he has relatives.

"It's hard to get used to all this attention," said Francis, who uses a walker only because of balance problems.

"The residents love the kids," said Groves Administrator Richard Nathans. "I like to see the residents and students interact."

Roosevelt teacher Rob Bagby said the event combines his work as a teacher and his hobby as a member of the Swamp Boys barbecue team of Winter Haven, which competes in barbecue contests throughout the southeast.

Bagby oversaw preparation of the barbecue, while his wife, Amy, a culinary arts teacher at the school for special-needs students, worked with the students in purchasing materials and making the coleslaw, baked beans and brownies.

This is the second consecutive year Roosevelt has done the Senior Q project with The Groves.

Roosevelt was the first-place winner of last year's inaugural contest sponsored by the groups.

The award is on display at the school.

Bill Bair can be reached at bill.bair@theledger.com or 863-676-7118.


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