By Rick Banas of BMA Management, Ltd.
Glenn Young was clutching a small pillow to his chest as we sat talking in his apartment at the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living community that we manage in Benton, Illinois.
He was protecting the broken ribs he recently suffered when the car he was riding in was hit head on by a car that had blown through a stop sign.
He was talking about growing up and living in southern Illinois and his move to Heritage Woods of Benton on April 23, 2010.
My father worked in the coal mines, he told me. We lived out in the country outside of West Frankfort. There was no electricity and no running water.
“I started grade school when I was five years old,” he said. One afternoon during his first year of school, “I got sicker than a dog” as he was walking home. His uncle came to his aid when he couldn’t go any further. He had come down with scarlet fever and was quarantined at home. “Back then, there wasn’t too many who lived through scarlet fever,” he said.
He talked about peddling newspapers on weekends and about peddling onions that his mother would give him to sell.
His grandfather had about 60 acres of strawberries. “People would come from everywhere to pick the berries,” he said. “They would camp on his property.”
“I was just a kid, and I’d pick 10 quarts. I’d get two cents a quart”
He started high school at the age of 12. As a freshman, he was getting up at 3:30 in the morning so he could go to work in the bakery, helping to deliver breads and cakes. On weekdays during the school year, he would work from 4 to 8 a.m. and then go to school. On Saturdays, he would work from 4:00 until 10:00 a.m. He made $2.25 for the week.
During summer vacation, he earned $15 a week working for a bicycle shop, helping to fix bicycles. Between his junior and senior year, Glenn and a friend drove up to Peoria and worked for Caterpillar.
He enlisted in the service at the age of 17. “I was in Boot Camp at Great Lakes and put down that I could type,” he said. Based on his typing speed, he was assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Arlington, Virginia.
He met his wife when he came home for a visit. “She was living next door to our house. My Mom asked me to give her a ride to the library. We got to talking and then started dating.”
Glenn moved back to West Frankfort after being discharged from active duty and at first drove a taxicab. In 1950, he started working for the telephone company. “I started out as a lineman,” he said. He later became a service technician, installing telephones, and then a switching technician. He retired from the phone company in 1990 after 40 years of service.
He was a big rabbit and squirrel hunter and fisherman. He talked about a couple of lakes in the area that were great for catching blue gill and about catching catfish at the West Frankfort City Lake. “They used to stock the lake every year,” he said. “I caught catfish as large as 16 to 18 pounds.”
As for hunting, he told me about the time he killed two rabbits with one bullet. “I only saw the one when I shot.” It wasn’t until he had walked down to retrieve the rabbit that saw that he had hit a second one.
His wife cooked everything that Glenn killed while hunting.
Glenn moved into Heritage Woods of Benton from his home in West Frankfort. He says he didn’t want to move, but he wasn’t able anymore to do the work that needed to be done around the house and couldn’t cook.
He was living by himself; his wife had passed away. His one brother, who was about six and a half years older than Glenn, had passed away back in 1987. Both his brother and his dad died from Black Lung disease.
He wasn’t able to lift much anymore after breaking his back in 2004 and having five spinal operations.
Most of my family lives here in Benton, he says. Glenn and his wife had four children. He now has 16 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
“I have my own private apartment,” Glenn said. I brought furniture from my home and my car. I even brought my computer.”
On display in his apartment is a framed self-portrait of Glenn that he took in photography class while he was in high school.
He says “it’s kind of like living in a hotel. They clean my apartment every week, and they do a real good job. All the staff is real good to me; if I need any help, they are here. I don’t have to worry about anything.”
One of the things he says he likes the best is the entertainment and socialization. “There is always something going on, and I have met a lot of people and made a lot of friends.” In particular, he enjoys the country music.
“Heritage Woods has been a good alternative for me, and my family has been all for it” he says.
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“BMA Management, Ltd. is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”