Ragtime pianist Domingo Mancuello’s music again charms Homeland’s residents

Domingo Mancuello

Domingo Mancuello in a return performance at Homeland Center.

Domingo Mancuello fingers flew across the keyboard as he entertained residents in Homeland Center’s Personal Care Dining Room with a mixture of ragtime and Dixieland jazz.

Joining Domingo on Monday were Michael Winstanley on percussion and Tex Wyndham on the cornet. This was Domingo’s second performance at Homeland – he wowed residents with a solo act last February

Mancuello has played piano since age 4 – he’s now in his mid-20s – and discovered ragtime when his grandfather sang with a barbershop quartet. He and his grandfather were prowling antique shops, hunting for phonograph needles, when he heard a player piano for the first time. He was transfixed.

Tex Wyndham

Cornetist Tex Wyndham joined Domingo Mancuello and Michael Winstanley at Homeland Center

Today, he is production assistant at Fulton Theatre, Lancaster, while also pursuing his passion for ragtime. He tries to preserve an old

Domingo Mancuello and Tex Wyndham

Domingo and percussionist Michael Winstanley at Homeland Center recently

tradition while refreshing it for the 21st century.

Homeland Center’s Isaac Strausser loves the ‘instant gratification’ of preparing special meals

Isaac Strausser

Isaac Strausser, Homeland Center’s dietary supervisor, enjoying a quiet moment in the Main Dining Room.

Beef tenderloin. Crab cakes. Poached salmon. When it’s time for a special meal, Isaac Strausser and the rest of the Homeland dietary staff roll out the residents’ favorites.

That includes delicacies like crab cakes, served for such holidays as New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

Isaac is dietary/purchasing supervisor, a veteran of the culinary industry who has found his niche at Homeland Center. Here, he puts care into every meal for the residents, while also appreciating the sense of family among colleagues that helped him through a medical crisis only one year after joining the staff.

Isaac is a native of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. He started working at a hometown restaurant and then got his associate degree in culinary arts through Johnson & Wales University. He enjoys working with his hands in the kitchen and the “instant gratification” from experimenting with new recipes.

“You know right away whether it works or not,” he says.

He worked in restaurants and retirement communities. Working crazy hours at the Hershey Red Robin – one of the chain’s busiest in the nation – and as general manager for a popular Harrisburg barbecue place made him realize the importance of time with family. When a friend told him about Homeland, he took the opportunity.

Though his days start no later than 6 a.m., he’s home in the afternoon. His three kids range from 13 to 23. The 13-year-old is active in Scouting and aiming to become an Eagle Scout, like his dad. Isaac’s Eagle Scout project was painting lines, cleaning, and planting around his church’s new parking lot.

Isaac’s wife is a child care provider whose cooking style differs from his – she cleans every pot as she goes along, while he tidies but leaves the bulk of the washing for the end – so she often cooks dinner.

“She’s very good at what she does,” he says. “I don’t complain about going home and having dinner ready.”

His days at Homeland involve unloading delivery trucks and preparing meals. The key to assuring high-quality meals three times daily in a retirement community is taking the time to get everything ready.

“We do almost everything from scratch,’’ he says.

Residents enjoy the fried chicken. Rachel sandwiches and chicken wings added to the menu recently have been big hits. Isaac enjoys interacting with the residents. He gets to know them and they get to know him.

“It’s their home,” he says. “We want to give them the best service we can.”

Isaac joined Homeland in July 2013. Only about one year later, he started having seizures. Doctors initially told him he had an inoperable brain tumor and only five to 10 years to live. He found a more hopeful diagnosis at Johns Hopkins University, where surgeons successfully removed the tumor.

Then he faced 11 weeks of rehab, relearning how to walk and use his right side. That’s when Homeland colleagues and administration stepped up to support his recovery. Co-workers donated their vacation and sick days to add to his recuperation time. Homeland’s administration eased his return to the job.

“It’s been an amazing place to work,” he said. “Everything the people gave me to get through that was fantastic. To go that far above and beyond was fantastic. I didn’t have to worry about anything. I could just focus on my healing.”

Now, when colleagues need the same consideration, Isaac is happy to give.

“When people need extra time for emergencies, I’ll always be happy to donate,’’ he says. “I know how much that meant to me.”

King and Queen Valentine’s lunch treats residents and their spouses to a special date

Helen and Harry Dietz

Helen and Harry, 71 years as husband and wife.

Helen Dietz’s friend, a co-worker at Bell Telephone, was seeing several GIs and one night she asked Helen to become acquainted with one of her beaux by chatting on the phone. Helen pretended to be the man’s sister.

Before the call ended, Harry Dietz managed to get Helen’s number. He called her that night, saying, “I still don’t know you, you are not my sister.”

Helen finally admitted the truth. “I don’t know you, either,” she said.

“But, we could get to know each other,” he suggested. They agreed to go to a movie in Harrisburg the next night. Helen stepped off the bus, and Harry knew his persistence paid off. On Valentine’s Day in Homeland Center’s 1950s-style diner, he looked at his bride of 71 years – 72 in June – and said, “Isn’t she gorgeous?”

The annual Homeland Center King and Queen Valentine’s lunch treated residents and their spouses to a special date. Over a meal of beef tenderloin, crab cakes, cake, and ice cream – both of the Dietzes chose coffee ice cream – couples reminisced about the secret to sustaining decades of marriage.

“Work together,” said Helen Dietz. “Fifty-fifty.”

Helen and Harry Dietz

Tom and Anne, together for 67 years.

Anne met Tom Boyle when she worked at a hospital in Pottsville, and he was a bus driver. They’ve been together for 67 years.

“She was the answer to my dreams,” says Tom, who was a general manager for the U.S. Postal Service, overseeing 821 post offices.

Helen and Harry Dietz

Mike and Marian, married for 63 years.

Mike and Marian Keane, married 63 years, were high school sweethearts who “would go to dances and movies and the things you did back in those days,” says Mike. “Our most enjoyable time used to be going to the ballroom in Hershey on Saturday nights.”

And what Saturday nights they were! The Hershey Park Ballroom attracted renowned acts, and Mike and Marian saw “all the big names,” says Mike – Louis Prima, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman.

Sitting at a table decorated in checkered tablecloth, rose petals, and heart-adorned centerpiece, Alyce Spector was visiting her husband, Morton Spector. He is immediate past chair of the Homeland Board of Trustees. Both are longtime leaders in Harrisburg area civic causes, but that’s not the secret to 65 years of marriage, she says.

“Love. Companionship. Respect. Commitment,” she says, reflecting on their time together since they met at a wedding where she was a bridesmaid and he was an usher. “And a sense of humor. My mother told me not to get married unless I had a good sense of humor. She was right.”

Residents and guests for the special luncheon sang “Happy Birthday” for a resident celebrating her Valentine’s Day birthday. One resident, Don Englander, is an accomplished musician who treated diners to an a cappella rendition of “My Funny Valentine.” He and his wife Lorraine, also a Homeland resident, were married in 1979 in Las Vegas, officiated by a female minister wearing a beehive hairdo.

While some of the couples had special Valentine’s Day traditions – the Keanes enjoyed dinner at Allenberry Resort, where they got married – the Valentine’s Day roots of Bob and Shirley Fultz go extra deep. They met when she worked at a restaurant called Valentine’s, and he kept coming back for meals. He proposed to her at the restaurant on Valentine’s Day, and got their engagement ring from a jeweler named Valentine’s.

Helen and Harry Dietz

Bob and Shirley, working toward their 66th anniversary.

“She appealed to me,” Bob said. “I started going with her. I met her grandmother and grandfather, and they liked me.”

They had eight children, including daughter Kathy Yiengst and son Tim Fultz, who joined them for this Valentine’s Day treat. Bob and Shirley ran Shirley-Bob Restaurant in Middletown and taught their kids to cook, grow a garden, and do canning, said Tim. They also taught their kids about the value of service and hard work, added Kathy.

Today, the Fultzes have 30 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren. Many joined Bob and Shirley for milestone celebrations – Bob’s birthday, the 65th anniversary – at the Homeland Diner. Asked the secret to a long marriage, Bob had an immediate answer.

“To be honest with each other,” he said. “And not only being honest but doing things together. Being together keeps you together.”

Homeland resident Gladys Patrick’s winding road always leads back to Pennsylvania

Gladys Patrick

Homeland Center resident Gladys Patrick again at ‘home’ in Pennsylvania

Head nurse. American Legion Auxiliary president. Hospital volunteer. Tavernkeeper. Traveler. Church leader. Mother of five.

How did Gladys Patrick fit it all into one life?

“I was a great delegator,” she says today.

Gladys was born in Minersville, in Pennsylvania’s anthracite region where her father was a miner. The oldest of five siblings, her mother died when Gladys was 13. By then, the family was living in Philadelphia, where her father supported the war effort working for the Budd Company, a metal fabricator.

At their mother’s death, the children were separated for a time but then reunited with their father. As the eldest, Gladys was the caretaker, cooking and doing the laundry. Soon, however, the children went to an Episcopal orphanage in Jonestown, Pennsylvania. They lived like family with house parents on a farm with the girls learning such things as canning.

“One day, somebody didn’t turn on the gauge on the steamer, and the red beets exploded,” she remembers. “To this day, I can still see that red beet juice all over the ceiling.”

The home offered Gladys a loving shelter. Every day, she walked to school, where she and her fellow “Home Kids,” as the orphanage residents were known, excelled.

“It was a great three years,” she says. “We were so blessed.”

After graduation, someone suggested that Gladys would be a good nurse, so she got her RN at Polyclinic Hospital’s school in Harrisburg. Then came marriage and her first three children; then she and her husband built a home outside of Harrisburg.

“I was pregnant and hammering nails,” she says. She continued working part-time in nursing. She was also active in the local and state American Legion Auxiliary, starting such efforts as her Post’s poppy program for Veterans’ Day.

After she and her first husband divorced, she remarried and embarked on a new phase – running restaurants. She and her husband, Gerald Patrick, bought a Steelton-area restaurant they named Pat’s Grill (now the well-known Herby’s El Mexicano). She was active in the Tri-County Tavern Association, once earning “Tavern Owner of the Year” honors.

Through this, she served as Polyclinic Hospital’s head nurse, remained active in the Legion, and had two more children. The Patricks owned Pat’s Grill for five years. Then, Gladys was attending a seminar when an announcement over the loudspeaker said she had a phone call. She worried that something happened to one of her children, but instead, Gerry told her he bought a restaurant near Hershey. She thought “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

They owned Patrick’s Hotel for 16 years. They sold it in 1983 and decided to move to Arizona, on one condition. Gladys insisted they spend summers back home in Pennsylvania, where she could see her grandchildren grow.

They moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the London Bridge that once spanned the River Thames. With family constantly visiting, their home became known as “Patrick’s West.” The couple also embarked on a period of travel that took them to national parks, Hawaii, Venezuela, Ireland, Monte Carlo, Switzerland, and Puerto Rico, where avid golfer Gerry often played the links.

“I’d love to go back to Monte Carlo, but you can’t afford it,” Gladys says.

Gladys grew a garden of vegetables and flowers. She volunteered for golf tournaments and at the local hospital emergency room. She helped run her church’s kitchen and chaired its 100th-anniversary event, making sure that diners ate in style from real china, with real silverware.

After 47 years of marriage, Gerry died from the effects of a stroke, and Gladys moved to Las Vegas, to be near some of her children. But then a granddaughter asked, “Grandma, what really is home?” Gladys knew the answer.

“I’m originally from Pennsylvania,” she says. “I lived here all my life. This always is home.”

The first time Gladys and her family toured Homeland, her great-granddaughter said, “Grandma, when I get old, I’m going to live here.” She celebrated her 91st birthday with family – she now has 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren – at the Homeland Diner, a 1950s-style eatery where she wore a poodle skirt. She keeps busy with penny-ante poker, bingo, and exercise classes and ends her days with a glass of red wine before going to bed.

“I’ve had a good life,” she says. “I’m very grateful. God’s given me the opportunity to do what I’m doing.”

And when people ask for the secret of her longevity, she has a three-part answer.

“Number one: The awesome God,” she says. “Number two: My phenomenal, outstanding, loving family. And three: Red wine.”