102 Club

Manatee, Florida

Florida centenarians exuberant about talking books

Nearly one hundred patrons and guests gathered at the Manatee Talking Book Library in Bradenton, Florida, on March 3, 2006, to celebrate the library's thirty-fifth anniversary and the launch of its 10² Talking-Book Club.

Caption: From left to right are: Elizabeth Swaney, Steven Stratton, Edward Connors, Ernest Pusey

Lively entertainment was provided by the Stories Alive! readers theater group and the Jim Brenner and the Music Company jazz quintet. The theater group read excerpts from books by well-known authors and comedians, such as Mel Brooks's The 2000-Year-Old Man in the Year 2000 and Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself. The jazz quintet played popular selections from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.

Stephen Prine, head of the NLS Network Services Section, welcomed four Florida centenarians into the 10² Talking-Book Club: Edward Connors, 100; Ernest Pusey, 110; Elizabeth Swaney, 100; and Steven Stratton, 101. Each centenarian received a certificate, a pin, and a letter from NLS director, Frank Kurt Cylke.

Edward Connors is a retired patent lawyer and electrical engineer who said that he "would be stuck without" his talking books. He enjoys both fiction and nonfiction and looks forward to reading the articles in U.S. News and World Report. Ernest Pusey, who at the age of 110 is considered a "supercentenarian" because only one in a thousand centenarians lives to be 110, spends his time reading short stories, bestsellers, and sports stories. Elizabeth Swaney said that she so loved to read before losing her sight that talking books have helped her reclaim her life. She particularly relishes novels and biographies. Steven Stratton said, "Talking books are the most wonderful thing for people like me. To me they are a lifesaver." He has a great interest in biographies, history, and political books.

Four other centenarians who were unable to attend the March ceremony will be sent their materials in the mail. They are Carrie Bartlett, 100; Grace Hatch, 100; Georgiana Quinlan 102; and Rose Tenzer, 102.

Grace Hatch could not attend because she was on a Caribbean cruise celebrating her birthday and did not return to the mainland until March 4. She remains as active in her intellectual pursuits as she is in her recreation. She chooses her own books and keeps a notebook on her readings. In a letter to the Manatee librarian, she wrote: "Each week I immediately make notations and discover new authors. The gratefulness I feel overcomes any blunders I make in choices. . . . Thank you for the newsletters, the experience of talking books, and the excellent association."