MANATEE -- Three women, all relatively new residents of The Woodlands Village at 1055 301 Blvd. E., sat down at a special summer picnic "without the ants" in the Woodlands' dining room Sunday and their lives were forever changed.
Doreen Mallion, 81, introduced herself to Donna Amsden, 82, and Doris Kimbell, 83, by saying, "I'm from England."
Amsden said, "I knew an English girl once. Her name was Doreen Hicks."
Mallion replied, "That's me! I used to be Doreen Hicks."
Amsden gasped. Kimbell gasped. Mallion's mouth was frozen open.
As it turns out, Mallion and Amsden, both unmarried at the time, had met in Bradenton in 1947 and were "go to the beach together" pals until they lost touch with each other in 1952 and stayed that way for 60 years.
Mallion, who had gotten married and worked in the meat department of grocery stores, had eventually gone
back to England. She moved back to Bradenton and moved into Woodlands three weeks ago. Amsden had gotten married and become a local officer manager. She had moved in to Woodlands last week.
Neither knew the other was coming to Woodlands or recognized the other after 60 years. "I want to talk to her someplace where I can hear her," Amsden said with a big grin. "We have a lot of catching up to do."
This event is typical at The Woodlands Village, where something a little fun seems to happen nearly every day, said Storm Hurwin, a manager at the facility.
The Woodlands, which also has poker, bingo and other fun events, is having a tribute to Elvis Presley at 3 p.m. Monday.
The indoor picnic seemed to be a hit with residents, many of whom invited their families for the watermelon, cheeseburgers, corn on the cob, baked beans and apple crumb pie.
Nancy Favara, 73, another new resident, seemed to set the record with the most company Sunday. She had her mother, Laura Dutcher, 93; her two sons, Joe, 49, and John, 47; her grandkids, Alex, 18, Logan, 11, and Kalee, 5; her sister, Laura Long, 74; and her son John's fiance, Debbie Manino.
Resident Richard Avvenire, 90, was the unofficial entertainment for the picnic, going from table to table doing his disappearing coin trick.
"The people are wonderful and the food is good," said Avvenire, who dined with his wife of about 60 years, Josephine, and Richard Jones and Dorothy Van Etten.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686 or tweet @RichardDymond.