Dr. Don Newbury

She is to her retirement community what Auntie Mame was to the world of literature and entertainment. (I’m thinking that readers of a certain age remember Patrick Dennis’ 1955 novel that chronicled his madcap adventures growing up as the ward of his deceased dad’s eccentric sister.)

Actually, the author was reared by his parents, but he did have an aunt who marched to the beat of a different drummer, thus the story.

Later, in the movie version of the best-seller, Rosalind Russell played eccentricity to the hilt, showing her nephew worlds he didn’t even know existed.

The new "Mame" never appeared on the professional stage or in movies, but this Texas gal has grabbed life by the throat, making much of travels, experiences and generally oblique approaches to life. Suffice it to say that she helps other residents "stay loose" at Air Force Villages in San Antonio and her husband to be in the state of a continuous eye-roll.

Shirley Martin and her husband of 60 years, Gen. Jack Martin, are closing in on two decades there. Associated with Beaumont’s Lamar University for 40 years and its long-time basketball coach, he was a B-29 pilot during World War II. The Burkett, TX, native is a retired Brigadier General in the Texas Air National Guard.

His bride, a former school counselor, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees with multiple years in doctoral study on three continents. Well-known for immersing herself into prevailing cultures, she long ago decided that such immersion was more important than degrees….

Ms. Martin is beyond well-traveled. She’s logged a few million miles traversing the globe, including 38 trips to London. She almost always brings back treasures from foreign lands, some dating back 400 years. Her furniture and trappings are the talk of the village.

Arguably with qualities more museum than residential, the Martins’ quarters is the scene of numerous parties and get-togethers.

At one a while back, there were officers galore, including numerous generals. Guests wondered what Shirley would be up to at this gala….

They always expect something "different" from the usual silver and Waterford. Shirley’s imprimatur is always evident in her "doings."

This time, her selection of serving glasses went back to her growing up days on a ranch near Eden, Texas.

The glasses, centered on doilies adorning silver trays, became the centerpiece of conversations….

The guests, many of them military academy graduates, speculated about the origin of the glassware. Some thought they might be from the spoils of a sunken ocean vessel. Others figured they might be remembrances of an exotic cruise or from an excursion in some foreign clime.

Shirley revealed how they had been "all-purpose" glasses, commonly used in households back in the 30’s and 40’s. They were used for serving lemonade, iced tea, buttermilk and "sweet milk" on the "dinner and supper tables." She said they sometimes served as vases to display zinnias from the front yard or to hold green onions from the garden.

Blinking back a tear, she whispered that the "antiques" were a wedding gift from her late grandmother in 1947…

Shirley told about her care in washing and drying the precious glassware, and how she still has all two-dozen glasses.

They laughed when she finally confessed the "antiques" actually are Garrett Snuff glasses. Several guests then claimed to have "known it all along."

Generals, of course, know when to speak, and when to remain silent….

I would not have been comfortable around so much brass, men and women whose ages vary from 60 to 108.

National Guard corporals rarely are. At a weapons inspection exercise more than 50 years ago, I was rendered virtually speechless when a 2nd Lieutenant, nose to nose, asked me about the maximum effective range of the M-1 rifle. Actually, it was more of a "yell" than an "ask.""500," I finally answered. "500 what?" he questioned. "500 SIR," I countered….

One of just six military communities holding national accreditation, the center is a showplace on several hundred wooded acres, just outside of San Antonio on Highway 90.

They’re an active bunch whose residents engage in long-distance bike rides, fishing and cruising the world. Two of the pilots were "Doolittle Raiders."

They have all amenities, including a weekly newsletter.

A recent issue defined "senior humor:" Your motor is still running, but your warranty has expired!…

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Send email to: newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872