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Joshua Thomas
Attendees of the Easter Special and afternoon performance watch The Bill Brust Combo Thursday at Arkell Center.

Joshua Thomas
Bill Brust Combo singer Lorie Stewart performs Thursday in front of an Easter-egg-decorated tree at Arkell Center.

Joshua Thomas
Arkell Hall residents watch the Bill Brust Combo perform at Arkell Center Thursday.

Joshua Thomas
Bill Brust Combo keyboardist Ira Meltzer performs at Arkell Center Thursday.


Crowd comes out for Easter Special and afternoon performance

Sunday, March 31, 2013 - Updated: 5:08 AM


C-S-E Editor

CANAJOHARIE — On Thursday afternoon, a significant crowd including residents of both Arkell Hall and the adjacent apartment facility, friends, family and members of the public joined together for a Office For the Aging Easter Special meal at Arkell Center, after which the Bill Brust Combo entertained with a spirited set of cover songs from various eras.

The Office For the Aging served 45 Easter Specials — of ham with mustard sauce, baked potatoes, peas with mushrooms, and lemon pie — on Thursday afternoon, a huge jump from the average four-to-five meals served each weekday at Arkell Center as part of the Meals of Montgomery program.

"I wish there were that many everyday," said Administrator Barbara Failing of the high number of attendees Thursday, noting that when it comes to sharing a meal and company, the more the merrier. 

Meals are prepared at the Palatine Bridge site five days a week, with frozen meals also prepared for weekends and holidays when the office isn't open, such as Christmas. The fact that frozen meals are prepared assures that no local senior will ever be forced to go a day without food.

Between eight-to-10 staff members worked to prepare Thursday's special meal, with the head cook preparing most of the bigger items, and the remaining staff doing important prep work. Pies were baked, cooled, cut and boxed starting Tuesday, the hams cooked on Wednesday, and the remaining food was prepared starting bright and early Thursday morning.

Failing said that working at the sites where meals are served is not only fulfilling, but continually interesting. "I love serving people," she said, explaining, "I love watching the people come in — their happy faces — listening to their stories."

"Some of them have awesome stories. You learn a lot from them," said Failing of local seniors.

Failing also noted that although she'd love to be able to serve a massive crowd daily, the Meals of Montgomery program is in need of funding. "It's a big program. Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of funding, and it is something we need," she said, commenting that while the program does receive some official funding, its success depends "mostly on donations."

After finishing their meals, attendees, more of which showed up prior to the live performance, found seats and conversed, the Bill Brust Combo starting their set promptly at 1 p.m. 

Singer Lorie Stewart's lively presence lit up the room, as she performed in front of tree decorated with colorful Easter eggs and a large, unobscured window, warm sunlight streaming in. 

The group performed a variety of covers, many of the songs punctuated with stories or humorous banter. For instance, keyboardist Ira Meltzer introduced the song "You Belong To Me", by informing the crowd that it's a great 1950's song that he "used to dance to."

Many of the songs were made unique with the touch of Jan Cronkhite's saxophone, which imbued the performance with a jazzy, languid vibe.

To find out more about the Office For the Aging, or to learn how you can assist the Meals of Montgomery program, call the Palatine Bridge office, at 17 Carmen Court, at (518) 673-2000.

Joshua Thomas - Bill Brust performs drums with his band, which shares his name, at Arkell Center Thursday.

Joshua Thomas - Bill Brust Combo saxophonist Jan Cronkhite performs Thursday. His horn gave the show a smooth, jazzy feel.

Joshua Thomas - Attendees of the Easter Special and afternoon performance at Arkell Center Thursday watch The Bill Brust Combo.


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