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Just Another New Year at Senior Center--Maybe

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In the social hall of the Buena Park Senior Center, a group of seniors has plenty to say about Y2K, the new century and the new millennium. But most acknowledge they will most likely be in bed long before the stroke of midnight.

While waiting for her husband to show up for lunch at the center, Madeline Walton, 73, proves that the years haven’t affected her humor.

“I came over to the U.S. on the Mayflower,” says the Canadian native. “OK, would you believe the Titanic?”

The former World War II assembly-line worker thinks the media and others are trying to intimidate people with proclamations of impending doom as 2000 nears.

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“People got funny opinions about it,” she says. “I waited a long time to get here, and I don’t intend to leave. I don’t have a computer. It doesn’t rule my life.”

Pearl Pistilli, 86, of Anaheim is playing cards next to Walton and interrupts.

“All I could say about this millennium year 2000 thing is, I think something’s going to happen, like maybe an earthquake, or a flood or fire, but you’re not going to be able to do a thing about it.”

“Why did you have to go and say a thing like that?” Walton says.

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But Elizabeth Wright, 83, originally from the former Austria-Hungary, agrees with Pistilli--to an extent. “I think I’m more frightened about the terrorist things,” she says. Born in 1913, Pistilli says she wanted to die young but “it’s too late now.”

She remembers seeing her older brother come home from World War I and learning to ballroom dance when she was 15. Now she has 17 great-grandchildren.

She claims she’s been a “heller” all her life. “I liked to raise hell. I still dance, too.”

A few weeks ago, Pistilli was hospitalized thinking the end was finally at hand, but she recovered and is now facing a new century warily.

“I’ve had lots of happy new years--dancing, drinking, smoking, sex,” she says with a mischievous smile. “All that good stuff.”

But then she becomes serious.

“And I’ve never been worried about anything or been afraid in my whole life. This year is the first.”

Walton’s husband, Marvin, finally arrives. The former electrician and Korean War veteran says that in his opinion, everyone is getting too carried away with Y2K anxiety.

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Still, he stopped at an ATM before coming to lunch and withdrew a couple of hundred dollars. “You never know,” he says.

Walton plans on staying home with his wife, locking the door and “watching the idiots on TV.”

Ana Cholo-Tipton can be reached at (714) 966-5890


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