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Thu., Oct. 8
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WARMEST 100 BIRTHDAY WISHES – Lyle Foster’s 100 years of life will be celebrated at a party at the Highland Nursing Home a week from Sunday on Feb. 9. The celebration for Mr. Foster will be held from noon until 4 p.m. in the solarium (the room along the side of the building near the main entrance).

Everyone is invited to attend this very special birthday party. Everyone is also asked to send cards to Mr. Foster at 189 Highland Road; Massena NY 13662. Let’s fill his room with cards and the warmest of wishes as this terrific gentleman celebrates a milestone birthday this year.

What an amazing man Mr. Foster is and what a marvelous opportunity I had recently to visit with Mr. Foster as he recalled countless events in his 100 years of life.

When I first met him at Highland Nursing Home, I asked if he was about to celebrate a very special birthday. (He will turn 100 on Feb. 12). “They tell me I am,” was his response.

Mr. Foster lived in Bombay on a farm on the Bombay-Helena Road. “I worked on the farm there,” he said, He worked on the farm “until I worked on the Seaway – about two and a half years.”

Neighbors and those who had heard of his reputation would come to Mr. Foster to repair their tractors – and anything that might not work properly. It was Mr. Foster who could fix anything, a family member told me. If he didn’t have a part that was needed for the repair, he would just make the part – perhaps out of a soup can.

“I used to do that,” Mr. Foster said of repairing tractors and other equipment. “I fixed hay balers,” he told me, explaining neighbor Donald Durant had a hay baler that wasn’t working. “I didn’t have any trouble,” he said, fixing the hay baler. “I went down (to the Durant home) and Donald bailed with it – he had no trouble at all.”

Mr. Foster was there to lend a helping hand to his neighbors. “I put a roof on Joe McKenzie’s barn,” he recalled, explaining how the roof had fallen in. “He needed a whole new roof.”

I was told Mr. Foster also dug wells by hand. Amazing.

“We had electricity put in in 1929,” Mr. Foster told us.

He smiled and looked toward a visitor in his room that day, a visitor much younger than his 100 years and asked, “Wasn’t it?”

His smile was delightful – his sense of humor pure joy.

He continued to remember the day the electricity was turned on. “They turned it on when I as down in the flats. John (Mulvana) was there. I see the lights come on – a light here, a light there.” “It was 1929 – or somewhere in there,” he continued. Once the electricity had come on, he said “it came on good after that.”

He loved horses. “I had five at one time,” he said. “I used to ride them.”

Since Mr. Foster has been a resident of Highland, he has been taken to the area behind the nursing home to see the horses there, a trip I was told he enjoyed a great deal.

I was told animals loved Mr. Foster. One day Dan Mulvana’s pigs got out (Dan was a neighbor who lived on state Route 95). The New York State Police were called to assist. “The troopers couldn’t get them in,” Mr. Foster recalled, “so Dan called me to see if I could help him.”

When Mr. Foster arrived, the pigs were “going down the road,” which is a state highway. “I got a pail of grain – they (the pigs) knew the dish – the pigs saw the pail and ran fast as they could go.”

He said he talked to the pigs and told Dan he should talk to them as well, something Dan wasn’t as ready to do as Mr. Foster was. Mr. Foster took the pail and went into the barn with the pigs following him. Mr. Foster was able to communicate with the pigs – something neither their owner or the state police were able to do at that time.

Mr. Foster’s skills were not only in the barn or repairing machinery – or even in caring for animals – he also was skilled at cooking. “I made donuts,” he remembered.

He described each step in frying his donuts. He took a spoon and slid the batter “right down in the oil…pretty soon they would come up on top. Then I’d take the spoon and turn them over – until they were brown.”

As he described making donuts, you could almost smell the aroma of fried donuts at the Highland!

When I asked about his long life and if he had any advice on how we might all live to be 100 with such a sharp mind and delightful sense of humor, he told me simply, “I didn’t pay much attention to it (age).”

He thought he remembered thinking about getting old after his 90th birthday. He joked about age with those visiting him last week – “she’s older than I am” he would tell us, speaking of a friend much younger than his ten decades of life.

My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Foster’s niece, Priscilla McCabe, who let me know about his upcoming celebration. What a beautiful visit we had and what an extraordinary gentleman. I would ask each of you reading this today to take a moment and address a birthday card filled with good wishes to Lyle Foster.

It was apparent his family and friends love him dearly – and Bombay neighbors, too. I would ask those many neighbors and friends in Bombay who still remember his help in building a cupola for a barn or digging a well or repairing a tractor or rounding up pigs to extend thanks today for the good neighbor Mr. Foster was to each one.

I would hope that those who do remember will take a moment on Feb. 9 to stop by Highland Nursing Home and wish Mr. Foster a wonderful birthday as he celebrates 100 amazing years of life.


THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometime taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Poet Anne Bradstreet (March 20, 1612 – September 16, 1672)

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