Block parties. Snappy, live guitar tunes. Pizza.
Though it sounds like the stuff of teen gatherings, it's actually the
lifestyle of the young-at-heart men and women of Windham's 55-plus Hadleigh
Woods community. The close-knit neighborhood of friends located off Route
28 on Flat Rock Road, is full of spirit and energy.
"We have cookouts in the summer and pizza parties. Bob
hooks up his truck with the amplifier and plays the guitar and sings for
us," says Harry Milliken, ombudsman of the Hadleigh Woods Association.
Bob Spaulding replies with a crimson blush and bright
"Yeah, I play and sing at the parties. I guess I can be a
bit of ham." Bob played in a cover band titled "Remember When" for a few
years that showcased tunes from the '50's. He loves to entertain by playing
the guitar, keyboard or saxophone, whether it's at the cookouts or holiday
parties they take turns hosting at their homes.
The Christmas season brings caroling, hot cider and
brandy stops along the way with a gathering afterward organized by Marian
Spahan. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and others bring open house
dinner parties at various homes. Not to mention the activities they hold or
are involved with through the Windham Recreation Department at the Senior
Center such as ballroom dance lessons.
President-elect Richard Michaud says, "Anything we are is
due to Harry Milliken and his wife Gratia. He's really been the one to pull
this group together and suggest
most of the events. We don't have a clubhouse, so it puts
us out in the community and interacting in places like this (Park Place
bowling lanes in Windham.)
"On Fridays we have breakfast over at the Alley Cat
(adjacent to Park Place). Sometimes as many as 30 of us will come, which is
a pretty good turnout," says Mr. Milliken.
Mr. Michaud adds, "And on Sundays we walk the Rail Trail.
People call us 'The Walkers'; we love it over there. As a group, we donated
the money to sponsor about five feet of the trail."
Claire Donnelly says, "There is a lot on Wednesdays. We
bowl in the afternoon and then go over to J Michael's to eat and after that,
the men take turns playing pool at different homes and some of the women go
The group's activities aren't limited to Windham.
"Sometimes we take day trips," offers Mary Ann Doyle. "A
few of us went together on a tour of Fenway Park not too long ago and last
year three couples went to Alaska on vacation together."
Tom Tosto started a website for the group and together
with Richard Michaud they keep the community informed. They say about 80
percent of the residents have e-mail and are constantly connecting with each
other that way. They haven't forgotten those without computers though:
They send out flyers and the group has their own newsletter titled "The
Gazette" to keep everyone in the know.
The four year-old 55-plus community of 102 residents has
something for everyone to enjoy in all the age groups. The average age is 72
and about 75 percent of the residents are retired.