By Carol McCracken (Post # 356)
Holiday fun and good cheer were in abundance when thirty-three seniors got together Monday for a holiday party at the Cummings Center on the Hill. The anuual event was hosted by the city’s parks and recreation division for those fifty-five PLUS.
With some dressed in whimsical holiday hats and sweaters, seniors were served an outstanding ham dinner with all the fixins. Christmas Carols were sung. Gifts were exchanged in a “Yankee Swap” fashion – seniors could swap their presents for another one they preferred that already had been opened. The buffet dinner was prepared by city employees. All good fun for a small fee to members of the city’s 55_ program.
Donning a big grin as well as his Santa Claus hat with his wife sitting beside him, was Manny Bento. Bento, who comes from New Rochelle, NY joined the U.S. Coast Guard on Broadway in NYC in 1946. He received his training aboard the USCG Barque Eagle in 1947. The ship was captured by the United States from Germany in 1947 and converted into a training ship. Bento, a Hill resident, was among the first Americans to undergo their training on the Eagle. In fact, instructions and directions aboard the Eagle were still written in German when he boarded the ship. The U.S. Coast Guard had made other updates to the ship including installing radar and water tight doors. The ship’s home port is the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Ct.
Following that in 1950, Bento, now 81, was stationed aboard a ship docked at the Maine State Pier in Portland. His Coast Guard ship was involved in search and rescue as well as weather forecasting. One time his ship was on its way to Rhode Island and found two tankers that had broken in half in rough seas. Bento’s crew was ordered to “put lube oil in the heands and flush i down to calm the seas. It was a common practice,” Bento said. “The Coast Guard was the real ring leader for pollution,” he said laughing.
For more information about the 55+ Adult Program, please call 874-8870.