//Ad libs: Eight stories

Monday, January 23, 2006

Eight stories

So I was eavesdropping today on a man telling a story about picking a fight with another man in a wheelchair, but it's really hard to blend in when you're the only person under 60 in the room. Anyway, I was trying to pay attention to the exhibit I came to see.

I like art where you don't expect it -- a photo show in the dining hall of the Stevenson House senior complex would have to qualify. There are portraits of eight Stevenson residents, some arty, with the people's poems and stories. It's not the Louvre, but resident Vlasta Diamant did a nice job shooting the photos and pulling it all together. You get glimpses into long lives.

The stories about real winter were the most interesting to me, as I whine every year about the sunny sham season here in California. (You'd think I'd be used to it after growing up in Menlo Park, but some people never learn.)

Give me Iowa, where resident Rita Shepard is from. She tells a sweet story about taking a sleigh ride to midnight Mass in 1925 with her family. "Dad drove the horses through the stretches where the snow was not so deep. I remember the crisp night air on my face, the warmth of the blankets, and my father's loving care," she writes. Nice.

Give me Edmonton, where retired scientist Galina Kniajerd used to live. The woman is from Moscow, and even she groused. "It was like Siberia," she writes. "The cars had to be plugged into special electrical cords outside in order to keep batteries from freezing." She then tells the story of getting lost and nearly freezing to death in her car.

Now that's weather you can respect.

The exhibit, "I remember it well," is up through Feb. 28 at Stevenson House, 455 E. Charleston Road. Call (650) 493-1478.

Pictured: Four Stevenson House residents who are telling their tales in the exhibit. Photos by Vlasta Diamant.