Celebrating happy hour with root beer floats


The weather outside was hot and stormy, but on a summer Friday afternoon at Homeland Center, residents were inside enjoying a cool and universally beloved treat.

“Cheers to root beer floats!” From left, residents Betty Wise, Mary Anna Borke and Doris Coyne.

As resident Doris Coyne put it, “Root beer floats, my favorite food!”

Every Friday at 3 p.m., Homeland Center’s personal care residents are invited to their own TGIF get-together. They convene in Homeland’s Gathering Room, the cheery space where Homeland displays its priceless collection of Hummel figurines and plates. There, residents converse and enjoy a treat. One week, Homeland staff might serve up fresh fruit. Another week, there could be cocktails.

“This is our happy hour,” said Director of Activities Ashley Bryan, while the music of Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin played in the background. “It’s a chance for residents to say hello and catch up on the week in an informal way.”

Root beer floats, it seems, were created in Philadelphia, so they didn’t have to travel far to be enjoyed by Homeland residents at this particular TGIF gathering. Made with A&W Root Beer and vanilla ice cream hand-dipped by CNA/Activity Assistant Nina Wyatt, they were an especially popular happy-hour offering.

Resident Mary Anna Borke gets ready to beat the heat with a root beer float.

“Root beer’s one of the few sodas I like, and when you mix it with ice cream, it makes it fun,” said resident Mary Anna Borke. “It bubbles and gets all that white foam on the top.”

Borke remembered another happy hour, when she was pleasantly surprised to find that “the ‘cocktail’ was shrimp cocktail.”

“I was glad I showed up that day,” she said with a smile.

Borke gets involved in as many Homeland activities as she can, “trying to enjoy what’s here and now. They have a lot of good things.” A favorite of hers is Roy Justice, the “Singing Historian,” who serenades residents with classic American songs from different eras and shares the tales that go with them.

Resident Betty Wise came to the airy Gathering Room just for the root beer floats.

“I like ice cream, and I especially like it with root beer,” she said. “They couldn’t have a better treat than this.”

“On a hot day like this, you deserve a perk,” added Borke.

Wise grew up in the Pennsylvania coal-region town of Tower City, eating ice cream floats made with her father’s homemade birch beer. He brewed it from the bark of a birch tree in their yard.

“My daddy was a great birch beer brewer, down in the basement,” she said. She also remembered that her dad and grandfather made wine down there, from fox grapes grown on a huge arbor in the backyard, or from dandelions picked by her grandmother.

“Oh, that was delicious,” she remembered with a laugh. “I really liked it.”

As the root beer float happy hour progressed, some residents sat around a table, sharing the week’s news. Coyne joined the group and recalled why root beer floats were always her favorite.

“If I’d have company, we’d often have root beer floats for dessert,” she said. “They’re just light and refreshing.”

“And,” added Borke, as the temperature outside hit the 90s, “they’re nice and cool.”

Resident Spotlight: Betty Lloyd cherishes her memories


Betty Lloyd cherishes her memories!

Golf with friends. Bridge. Travel with family. Betty Lloyd has brought a lifetime of good memories to Homeland Center.

Homeland Center resident Betty Lloyd visits with her son, Greg. “Homeland has a lot of activities,” Betty says. “You can join them and do anything you want to pick from. I always enjoy talking to people.”

Betty came to Homeland in March 2015. Here, she follows politics and welcomes her son, Greg, when he visits from Providence, Rhode Island, every month.

Before Homeland, she lived in nearby Susquehanna Township, in the same home since 1961. From that house, one of the first in its development, Betty and her husband, Reese, built a life that revolved around the community. Greg spent summers at the neighborhood swim club. Betty played bridge with several groups. Reese worked selling specialized packaging tape and taping machinery to manufacturers.

“It was about finding interesting ways to use lots of tape,” says Greg.

When Greg was grown and moved to Portland, Oregon, Betty and Reese would make annual visits with stops at interesting sites along the way – New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, San Francisco, Hearst Castle. Often, they would golf as they traveled. Though golf was a big part of their life, Betty says she wasn’t very good at it.

“There were four couples, and we played together,” she says. “We enjoyed it. The men were good, but the women weren’t good. We went along just to make it easier for them to get out and golf.”

The Lloyds were also longtime members of Zion Lutheran Church in Penbrook, Pennsylvania. Betty worked with circles of women, helping with fundraising, clothing drives, or preparing meals for receptions.

“It’s a little church,” she says. “I still belong there.”

Betty’s room in Homeland is decorated with items recalling the life she shared with her late husband. An enameled ink pot recalls his World War II service with the U.S. Air Force in China. Two duck decoys came from his time woodcarving, which he took up in retirement.

In those years, Betty and Reese were active in the woodcarving community, visiting shows where he would buy tools and books of bird images published especially for woodcarvers. They also took field glasses to nature sanctuaries around Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay, for first-hand looks at migratory birds.

“He liked going out and watching the birds,” says Greg. “It was a good reason to get out and go to those places, and when the weather was bad, he would spend it in the workshop.”

“He did wonderful work,” recalls Betty. “He’d be in his workshop in the basement, and he could hear me starting to get our dinner in the evening, and then I could hear him putting his tools away. Even with his poor eyesight, he didn’t give it up for a long time. It was fascinating. I was glad he had a good hobby like that.”

Today, Betty enjoys her life at Homeland. She chats with fellow residents, follows political news, and votes regularly.

“Homeland has a lot of activities,” she says. “If you want to, you can join them and do anything you want to pick from. I always enjoy talking to people.”