The 20th Anniversary of the Old Timers Luncheon packed the Kenai Senior Center to its capacity August 20th for a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Under the command of Kenai Senior Center head cook Missy Bailey, over 230 dinners were prepared and served by “The Kids” who were also mainly senior citizens. “It’s a time for fun and fellowship and that’s all we do, no speeches we just have fun,” said Joanne Hollier who along with Peggy Arness has organized the annual event for the last two decades. According to Arness it all started over a cup of coffee with old friends, “We were having our Thursday lunch and we thought it might be fun to get all the old timers together for some fun once a year and that’s how it started,” Arness told the Dispatch.
Interrupting all the visiting going on to start the games Peggy took the microphone and asked for a show of hands of everyone who remembered VJ Day (Victory in Japan WWII) and many hands went up. She then asked who kissed someone when they heard the news (millions celebrated across America by kissing someone, even perfect strangers on VJ Day.) Peggy then asked if anyone in the room married the person they kissed on VJ and only one hand went up and that was the hand of Mildred Evenson who then won a fresh homegrown dozen eggs from Arness. Peggy also had the distinction of being the only person in the room who and lived all 90 of her years in Alaska. Jim Arness did the traditional “End of the Trail” reading of the names of those who had passed on during the last year which was followed by Jeane Brockel leading everyone in sing Auld Lang Sein.
The Old Timers mystery guest is always a closely kept secret by Arness who reads clues until someone guesses the person or persons. This year’s lead clue was that all three were 95 years of age and living in the Central Peninsula. “This year’s mystery guests were Marge Mullen, Alex White and Mary Quinell, Mary didn’t make it so we hope she is doing well and we missed her,” said Peggy. And then it was revealed that the 20th Old Timers luncheon would be the last the dynamic duo of Arness and Hollier would be organizing the event, “There was a lot of moaning and groaning but I hear that Pat Porter is going to recruit some of the kids to do it next year and that’ll be nice, because it is a lot of work, but a lot of fun too and it’s