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Making music at the Rose Tucker Center in Nanticoke

Time:2016-12-08 06:36Shoes websites Click:

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NANTICOKE — When the Tucker Center Band played ‘Oh, Dem Golden Slippers” on a recent Friday afternoon, 73-year-old Maryann Smith and 63-year-old Catherine Alles, both of Nanticoke, got up and danced.

As the musicians and singers launched into a Polish Christmas carol called “Dzisiaj w Betlejem,” which translates to “Today in Bethlehem,” 88-year-old Ann Rinehamer of Newport Township cried happy tears. “They really set me off,” she said.

But when John Marcinkevicz pulled out his echo harp — “some people think it’s a harmonica,” he said later, “but it’s an echo harp” — the community room filled with seniors at the Rose Tucker Center for Active Adults grew very quiet.

“John’s going to do a solo,” Doris Merrill, of Nanticoke, signaling the group to listen attentively to Marcinkevicz’s rendition of “Red River Valley.”

“He’s 93 and he’s still going,” Merrill, who is 92, said later. “We’re proud of him.”

The staff is proud of him, too, director Gail Voyton said, and they’re amazed that he still drives himself to the senior center and continues to play a reed instrument despite suffering from black lung, a pulmonary condition caused by inhaling coal dust.

“I worked in the mines 17 years,” Marcinkevicz said, admitting he has to take a break when he walks up a flight of stairs. “I’m on oxygen at night.”

“It’s hard to fill up these 48 holes (in the echo harp) with wind,” he said.

But he perseveres, playing with his buddy, Clarence Lukashewski, 86, who lugs a heavy accordion to the center just about every week for “Polka Fridays.”

Stanley Jenceleski, 87, of Alden, and Bernie Macijczak, 85, of Nanticoke, sit near the duo and sing, and anyone else who wants to join in is welcome to sing along.

The accordion player, who once led a band called Lukashewski’s Polka Melodies, considers the weekly music sessions at the Tucker Center as a kind of therapy. “It makes the heart and soul feel better,” he said.

Songs on a recent Friday afternoon ranged from “Beautiful Dreamer” to “I’m in the Mood For Love” and the traditional Christmas carols.

It’s “way-back music,” the musicians said, adding their musical talent started to develop “way back” as well.

“When I was 11 years old, my dad had me taking accordion lessons,” Lukashewski remembered. “Fall and winter, I had to play. All summer, I was working in the fields. We had a farm in the Pond Hill area.”

Marcinkevicz said his first instrument was one he fashioned himself, about 80 years ago, from a comb and wax paper.

“We were too poor to afford a harmonica,” he said. “That would have been bread and butter off the table.”

The hand-crafted instrument gave him hours of entertainment, and the fancier models he has used since then — including the echo harp, which is special because it has two reeds per note — have helped him lighten other people’s moods and recall happy memories.

“I could speak Polish before I could speak English,” said Joe Libus, 81, of Nanticoke, who had asked the band to play one of the Polish carols he learned as a boy. “I went to a Polish school, St. Stanislaus, 70 years ago,” he said. “We knew ‘em all.”

“It’s very nice, the way they play,” said Carol Tischler, 75, of Honey Pot, who decked herself out with a cord of colorful lights around her neck as she linked arms with a friend and sang along.

“I love coming here,” said Doris Merrill. “This is my family.”

The “family” at the Tucker Center doesn’t have to wait until Fridays to hear music, either. Piano player Louise Manchio, 84, of Wilkes-Barre, plays for group singalongs on various other days.

“I enjoy it,” she said, listing “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” “If You Knew Suzie” and “just about everything from Mitch Miller” as tunes she’s likely to play.

Making music at the Rose Tucker Center in Nanticoke

Seniors at the Rose Tucker Center for Active Adults in Nanticoke sing songs in the community room as Clarence Lukashewski of Nanticoke plays his accordion.

Seniors at the Rose Tucker Center for Active Adults in Nanticoke sing songs in the community room as Clarence Lukashewski of Nanticoke plays his accordion. Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

Making music at the Rose Tucker Center in Nanticoke

Catherine Alles, left, and Maryann Smith dance the polka to the tune of ‘Oh, Dem Golden Slippers.’

Catherine Alles, left, and Maryann Smith dance the polka to the tune of ‘Oh, Dem Golden Slippers.’ Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

Making music at the Rose Tucker Center in Nanticoke

John Marcinkevicz, 93, of Nanticoke plays his Echo Harp.

John Marcinkevicz, 93, of Nanticoke plays his Echo Harp. Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

Making music at the Rose Tucker Center in Nanticoke

Clarence Lukashewski of Nanticoke plays his accordion at the Rose Tucker Center for Active Adults in Nanticoke.

Clarence Lukashewski of Nanticoke plays his accordion at the Rose Tucker Center for Active Adults in Nanticoke. Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

Making music at the Rose Tucker Center in Nanticoke

Carol Tischler of Nanticoke sings Christmas carols with her friends at the Rose Tucker Center.

Carol Tischler of Nanticoke sings Christmas carols with her friends at the Rose Tucker Center. Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

Making music at the Rose Tucker Center in Nanticoke

Bernie Macijczak of Nanticoke, left, and Stanley Jenceleski of Alden sing Christmas carols at the Rose Tucker Center.

Bernie Macijczak of Nanticoke, left, and Stanley Jenceleski of Alden sing Christmas carols at the Rose Tucker Center. Pete G. Wilcox | Times Leader

By Mary Therese Biebel

[email protected]

IF YOU GO

What: Polka Fridays

Where: Rose Tucker Center for Active Adults, 145 E. Green St., Nanticoke

When: 12:45 p.m. most Fridays

Info: 570-735-1670

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT

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