Gloria Mineur points to a slant-top desk in her room which her father built the year she was born.
“I’m 96, so that desk is 96 years old,” she says.
Gloria enjoys life from her Homeland personal care suite, in a bright corner room where windows overlook trees. She has lived an eventful life — even quietly rebellious.
After volunteering at Homeland for 17 years, Gloria arrived here to live in 2018. She loves her private corner and the chance to engage with staff, mingle with residents, and read to her heart’s content.
“I have a nice room,” she says. “I have my own furniture. I have my computer. I have my printer. The staff is very nice. They’re relaxed. They like the residents.”
Gloria was born in Long Island, New York. Her father served as a New York City firefighter, joining the department in the days of horse-drawn pumpers. In one burning home, he fell from the second floor into the basement.
“If I didn’t see my father for a couple of days, I figured he was in the hospital because he was injured so much,” she says now.
Gloria’s spirited mother immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland at age 15. On the journey, she decided that she didn’t like her birth name, Hannah, so she named herself Teddy, after President Teddy Roosevelt. When someone said Teddy was short for Theodora, she said, “It is? Okay, it’s Theodora.”
During the Great Depression, many Long Island residents placed their children in Catholic orphanages after losing their jobs as domestic help for Gold Coast millionaires. Theodora talked to her husband, and over the next few years, they took in 32 children. Three at a time, they joined Gloria and her two brothers.
“It was exciting to get somebody new, but it was sad to see the others leave,” she says. Gloria helped care for the ever-changing family, learning to cook at age 12. “With Mother, I was always in the kitchen standing beside her.”
In high school, despite earning honors in English, Gloria was put on a commercial track, with sewing and typing classes. She felt she was in school “under false pretenses.”
“I already knew how to type,” she says. “I made my own clothes. I was bored, so I started playing hooky.”
She would take the “L train” to Prospect Park or Forest Hills, finding spots where she could educate herself and read all day — works of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Dickens that she bought for 34 cents.
Gloria’s mother, finally learning the truth from a truant officer, didn’t get mad. The family doctor provided a medical exception, and Gloria never returned to school.
Around the time her parents moved to Lancaster, 17-year-old Gloria met a dashing older man who had a Ford convertible and had flown airplanes. They married and had three children, but the marriage fell apart.
Living in Lancaster, Gloria was knocking on a door in response to a help-wanted ad while a special delivery man was knocking at the house next door. The two started chatting. He offered to let her know if he heard of any job openings.
His name was Albert. He was African American, and Gloria was white. This was the 1950s. They married, had two sons, and bought land in the Philadelphia area in a black neighborhood, they appropriately named Rebel Hill.
In time, Gloria came to live in Harrisburg, where she worked as a substance abuse counselor. By then, she was married to a newsman working as a state Capitol correspondent and started volunteering at Homeland.
Making herself comfortable in her chair, Gloria says she loves “just about everything” at Homeland and has plenty to keep her busy.
She remains an avid reader, with a chairside stack of books ranging from a Rita Mae Brown mystery to James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” She fills her days with bingo, movie matinees, book club, the “Singing Historian” Roy Justice, and the fresh fruit cart get-together.
“As a matter of fact, I have a whole bowl of fresh fruit here right now,” she says. All those activities come back to one thing: “I like to mingle with people. I enjoy people.”