Vol. 9 No. 43 Visit TapIntoSomers.net for the latest news. Thursday, February 13, 2020
Adventure and love Party
deﬁned her century favors
Somers woman celebrates 100th birthday Gilligan’s
BY CAROL REIF even more remarkable.
STAFF WRITER She fell in love again.
Gilligan was lea ng through the local newspaper
At 100, Grace Gilligan doesn’t expect to be hitting one day when she happened upon the obituary of
the golf course anytime soon. the sister of a childhood friend…well, actually, her
But she keeps a set of clubs in her garage–“just in ninth-grade boyfriend.
case.” She and Frank Grimmer and been part of the teen
Hers is just the sort of sunny optimism that U.S. crowd in New Rochelle. Everyone sort of innocently
Navy nurse Nellie Forbush sang about in “South paired o back in those days while the whole gang
Paci c,” the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in went swimming or to the movies.
1949, the year the equally irrepressible Somers cen- Gilligan remembers long walks holding hands
tenarian turned 29. with JR, his nickname.
Being upbeat and continually curious about life Her high school sorority sisters had dubbed her
are traits that have served Gilligan well, especially “Terry” because, Gilligan recalled, “Grace sounded
after she lost her beloved life partner, traveling com- too religious.”
panion and father of her four children, Bernard, in ings were rosy until Gilligan’s family moved to
1996, just a year after the former Pleasantville couple Mount Vernon and the two young love birds eventu-
moved into Heritage Hills. ally lost touch.
ey had been married for 55 years. Gilligan was Noticing that Frank, now a widower, was living
76. in North Salem just a few miles away, Gilligan sent
Instead of moping around the house, Gilligan him a sympathy card.
threw herself into the retirement community’s social Before she knew it, he was sitting on her living
whirl, joining the Women’s Club, where she was its room couch, reminiscing over photographs of them
treasurer; and Chat and Sew, a charitable organiza- strolling around the old neighborhood.
tion that made, among other things, comfortable bed e time that had passed no longer had any rel-
pads for terminally ill patients at Rosary Hill Home evance.
in Hawthorne. “To meet someone after all those years, it seemed
She even took a turn with the local bowling club like it was yesterday,” Gilligan said.
where she was—proudly—named “most improved Grimmer, it turned out, shared Gilligan’s lifelong
bowler.” wanderlust. Soon the reunited pair were hitting
en at 78, an age at which no one would blame SEE GILLIGAN PAGE 3
her for resting on her laurels, Gilligan did something
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Page 2 – The Somers Record ELEPHANT’S TRUNK Thursday, February 13, 2020
The Staff The Heights at vics.com. For tickets to concert them in or near the bins inside the genre, moving books from storage
Brother Vic’s events, email [email protected] library, by the Community Room, to the library, setting up before the
EDITORIAL TEAM com or visit theheightsatbrother- any time the library is open. We sale begins, managing cash regis-
JODI WEINBERGER e Heights At Brother Vic’s vics.com. Don’t miss a very special need books in good condition (no ters, assisting customers in locat-
has announced a partnership with evening on Feb. 21. e Trouba- major damage, tears, markings or ing books, keeping books orderly
EDITOR: 914-302-5830 award winning Chef Luis and dours will be doing a tribute show highlighting) for all ages of read- during the sale, and cleaning up
[email protected] Gates Restaurant to bring an ex- of Carole King and James Taylor ers—hard cover and trade books, the library after the sale.
citing new concert dining expe- music. but no regular paperbacks, please.
BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER rience to South Salem. Together, You can also help by volunteering If you’re interested in volun-
SPORTS EDITOR: 914-302-5628 they will be completely overhaul- SLF Book Sale your time—whether it be an hour teering or have any other ques-
[email protected] ing the menu, bar, and or two at a time, a few hours each tions, please let us know.
e Somers Library Founda- week, or for as much time as you
ADVERTISING TEAM service to bring a stellar ca- tion is preparing for the 2020 can spare. Visit the Somers Library Foun-
LISA KAIN sual dining experience to comple- Book Sale to be held at the Somers dation website at https://Somer-
ment its live shows. e Heights Library from 24 - 26 April. We ere will be a variety of dif- sLibraryFoundation.org and click
914-351-2424 at Brother Vic’s is available for need books and volunteers to ferent activities and roles needed on the “Volunteers Needed” box
[email protected] private events, weddings, bar/bat make this event a success for our for the Book Sale starting now or leave a voice message at (914)
mitzvahs, sweet sixteen events, etc. library. You can donate your gen- through the end of April. Op- 361-9979.
PAUL FORHAN Contact Chef Luis directly at 425- tly loved books now. Just place portunities for you to participate
914-202-2392 266-5885 or email [email protected] include sorting books by type and SEE TRUNK PAGE 17
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Thursday, February 13, 2020 The Somers Record – Page 3
GILLIGAN Surrounded by family. Maureen Desimone with mom,
Grace Gilligan, holding a photo
FROM PAGE 1 More about Grace
of Rosie the Riveter.
the road, going to family gatherings, exploring historical sites Grace Georgianna Krueger was born in New Rochelle. She
and visiting Pennsylvania’s so-called Amish country. graduated from A.B. Davis High School in Mount Vernon in PHOTO: CAROL REIF
Not bad for two folks pushing 80. She married Bernard M. Gilligan on Feb. 22, 1941, and Grace meets her youngest
Grimmer passed away in February 2002 at age 83, and worked at the General Motors plant in Tarrytown from 1944 great-grandchild.
Gilligan has no regrets about their nearly four years together, to 1945.
as they created so many new memories together. During World War II, the plant was retooled to make wings Happy Birthday Grace!
When asked why they hadn’t married, she responded with for Grumman torpedo bombers and was renamed Eastern
twinkling eyes: “It was too complicated. Besides, it was just Aircraft. It employed 10,000 workers, 2,900 of whom were PHOTOS COURTESY OF MAUREEN DESIMONE
a piece of paper.” women.
Once again Gilligan, who takes care of herself–a feat at 80, Gilligan worked on the wings and the installation of the
never mind 100–is staying busy, if not physically, at the very plane’s windshield, a difﬁcult and tedious job.
least mentally. She was inspired by “Rosie the Riveter,” a cultural icon
She avidly follows the news, comparing and contrasting supposedly based on a real person, just one of thousands of
today’s major events with those in the recent past. women who worked in the factories and shipyards producing
According to one of her three daughters,Maureen Desim- munitions and war supplies.
one, she “never forgets anything” or where she was when she She and her family also lived in Yonkers, where she was
rst heard about it. elected its community representative on the Westchester
“I was a home watching television during 9/11 and I saw County Board of Legislators.
it all go down,” or, “I was in France when we landed on the The Gilligans bought their ﬁrst house in 1957 in
moon,” she might say. Pleasantville. They belonged to the Lake Isle and Leewood
Gilligan even kept up with the current presidential im- country clubs and toured extensively throughout Europe, the
peachment trial. United States, Canada and Mexico.
And she still goes for the occasional paddle in the ocean, Between work and travel, Gilligan found time to become a
wading into waves people half her age are afraid to tackle, Girl Scout leader and take art lessons. She was a secretary
said Desimone. for several principals in the Byram Hills Central School
In response to the standard “secret of your longevity”ques- District in Armonk.
tion, Gilligan gleefully volunteered, “You know how when She also liked to dabble in oils. Unfortunately, many of her
you go to the doctor, and he sits there with a somber face paintings, stored in a closet, were recently damaged by a
before telling you, ‘We can’t nd anything wrong’? Well, I leaking water heater.
just tell him that the secret’s a Manhattan (cocktail). Alcohol And she played lots and lots of golf.
kills the germs.” Gilligan, who lives not far from one of Heritage Hills’
On Jan. 15, Gilligan marked her 100th birthday with her fairways, still likes to watch from the restaurant at the
substantial tribe at Traditions, a cozy restaurant in Granite Somers Pointe Country Club as folks tee off.
Springs. e beaming matriarch was photographed sur- Her nine irons, driver and putter stand ready in her garage
rounded by grand- and great-grandchildren and snuggling because, as the eternal optimist says, “you never know.”
the youngest clan member, adorable 6-month-old Demi
According to Desimone, she has 10 grandchildren, a doz-
en great-grandchildren and one more on the way.
Given away as party favors were jars of Smucker’s jam
printed with Gilligan’s smiling face.
(No one knows exactly how it got started, but for years
the “Today” show had given people marking the milestone
birthday the chance to see their face printed on a jar of fruity
goodness.Veteran weatherman Willard Scott started the tra-
dition with one of the show’s sponsors, Smucker’s. It was car-
ried on by Al Roker, television personality, host of the Macy’s
anksgiving Day parade and former Yorktown resident.)
Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey was on hand to pres-
ent Gilligan with a framed proclamation, which she now
proudly displays next to a small statue of a zebra in her tidy
On a recent Friday afternoon, Gilligan rocked a pretty
pink out t complete with jaunty beret as she sat next to
the picture window from which she watches deer and other
woodland creatures frolic.
When asked what it’s like to turn 100, Gilligan said she
feels “just the same” as she ever did.
ere’s still plenty to look forward to, but, she admits,
there are limitations.
“My goal is 105. I can’t see going past that,” Gilligan said.
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Page 4 – The Somers Record Thursday, February 13, 2020
Cracks in Old Bet monument worry town, historians
E ort underway to replace aging elephant
BY CAROL REIF was being sold for meat. orama complete with miniature It, and Baraboo, Wis., the home of A monument to
STAFF WRITER He purchased the elephant, in- acrobats, clowns—and lions, tigers, Ringling Brothers, had once got- Old Bet is in front
and bears, oh, my! ten into a minor scrap over which
Old Bet is really showing her tending to use her for farm work, town owned the title. of the Elephant
age. and brought her back to his home- e tiny treasury, located on Hotel.
town. She wasn’t one for plowing the third oor, also houses one of Scholars consider Philadelphia
e concrete statue of Somers’ the elds, so he resorted to charg- famed little person General Tom the “Birthplace of the American PHOTO: CAROL REIF
totem animal, perched atop a 15- ing his neighbors for a peek at the Circus.”
foot shaft of dressed granite since big beast. umb’s embroidered costumes, her recast in bronze—which ain’t
1935, is falling apart and needs to and the trunk from one of Old PAST LIVES cheap. (A nal price tag of $45,000
be replaced, say town historians. As his pro ts mounted, Bailey Bet’s previous versions. In her past two “lives,” Old Bet has been oated.)
added trained dogs,pigs and horses
Exposure to the elements are to the act and took it on the road. Somers, whose high school was made out of wood. ose hop- Somers Historical Society presi-
likely to blame for the beloved sports teams are nicknamed “Tusk- ing for the symbolic elephant’s dent Emil Antonaccio has patched
pachyderm’s decrepitude. (Water is proved to be a mammoth ers,” is very proud of being the reincarnation would like to see up Old Bet at least once, but he
works its way into small crevices mistake—at least as far as his big- “Cradle of the American Circus.” and town historian Doris Jane
where it freezes and causes them to gest star was concerned. Smith and Grace Zimmerman,
expand over time.) the society’s vice president,all agree
In 1816, while the show was it’s time for a more permanent so-
And a number of years ago, a in Alfred, Maine, a fellow farmer, lution.
driver su ering some kind of med- Daniel Davis, shot Old Bet. He
ical condition ran into Old Bet’s apparently thought it was sinful for SEE OLD BET PAGE 16
pedestal with his car, giving her, as the poor to have pay to see one of
Town Supervisor Rick Morrissey God’s creatures—or, at least, that’s
put it recently,“a good shake.” ONE of the theories.
Big splits can clearly be seen in ( e spot where she was done
three of the elephant’s four legs. in is marked by a small plaque on
In real life, the African elephant
was the main draw of one of Amer- Bailey put up a monument in
ica’s rst traveling menageries. her memory around 1827 outside
Town Hall, aka e Elephant Ho-
A Somers farmer named tel, on Route 100.
Hachaliah Bailey had spotted her
in 1804 at an exhibition in Boston If Old Bet were able to turn
and was smitten. around, she could see into the win-
dows of e Museum of the Early
A few years later, he saw Old American Circus, which is jam-
Bet, then known as Betty, at a New packed with artifacts and memo-
York City cattle auction where she rabilia such as a hand-carved di-
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Thursday, February 13, 2020 The Somers Record – Page 5
Promise the curious
The wonderers. The ponderers. The ones
© Nuvance Health who always wear their thinking caps.
Asking the di cult questions. Not only
treading into uncharted waters, but diving in.
In search of something new, something better.
At Nuvance Health, we embrace curiosity.
Because it leads to better answers. Answers
that help eliminate hassles. Answers that
o er new options. And answers that help
you and the people you care about rest easy.
The promise of curiosity lives in us, painting
a brighter future for us all.