[Life] 107 Years of Celebration

Mardi Gras celebrates her 107 years

Bertina Carlson And Friends Have A Ball In Hobart

 by Mike Siroky

When Bertina Carlson was profiled a little more than a year ago in The Chronicle, readers and other residents of Brentwood Assisted Living in Hobart came to know and love her.

Well, another lap has been completed. This year, Brentwood decided her 107th birthday and the yearly Mardi Gras celebration was too coincidental to ignore, so the facility, friends and family and – of course – Bertina herself gathered for a Mardi Gras Party.

There was a deejay to spin the modern tunes of the 1940s, balloons, beads and feathery masks. There was food and drinks and Cajun-spiced popcorn.

A special friend made a special card. Relatives and friends of other residents filled the dining area to overflowing.

Two of Bertina’s daughters – Rachel and Mary – were there.

The family had the table right up front, near the special cake with the glittery frosting.

Ruth Wisor was a vision of glittery elegance with a feathery mask adding an aura of mystery.

She hand made the card, which everyone signed.

Ruth is from Brazil, or, as she insisted, “The Amazon.”

She and another friend, Rose Virgo, were among the first arrivals. They spend many hours sitting and reminiscing with Bertina. They were not the only celebrants to remark that someone else achieving 107 years makes them feel young.

Dorothy Perk took in the scene from near the popcorn machine. She said she appreciates that Brentwood throws these unplanned parties because it reinforces the family atmosphere.

Kenny Lomas and family came in from Valpo with one of Bertina’s many friends. Mary Emerson. Kenny said Bertina’s grandson is one of his best friends. They all remared how cheerful Bertina made them feel.

Rachel Feldman, also of Valparaiso, is one of Bertina’s daughters. “She is still doing great,” she said of her mom’s ability to get around and keep up with everything.

Kerry Kapica is the originator of Entertainment Express. He provided the music and karaoke. His company does a lot of events with Brentwood.

“This time, it was Big Band music,” he said as the festivities came to life around him

The challenge was the short time frame, as most receptions and other events have a four- to six-hour timespan. And he had another show at another location at 9 p.m.

But he is a 30-year veteran of the business, a full-time avocation, so nothing fazes the Portage native,

“It’s always been a good business to be in,” he said. The real reward, he said, is when folks come up to him and tell him how much they enjoy his offerings.

“I have a vision, for every event, of what I am going to do,” he said. “And we meet with everyone beforehand to get what they want.

As the show wound down, the staff and other friends of Brentwood did a karaoke rendition of “Proud Mary,” with all the moves included. “They were the stars of that moment,” said Kapica.

For more information on Entertainment Express, call Kapica at 219-763-3610 or visit his website, http://www.entertainmentexpressdjs.com.

Down the hall, in his room, Ralph Jensen and his kitty  discussed attending the party. Ralph, a veteran, had some medical tests this day and the result weighed on his mind as far as they were still unknown.

But he decided to amble on down to the festivities.

“I wasn’t going to go,” he said. “But everybody keeps asking for me.”

Indeed, as he entered the celebration area, some friends had kept a seat waiting for him, because, as one said, “He’s the life of the party.”

As the celebration continued, Ralph settled in with his friends and laughter and smiles were passed all around.

The deejays encouraged requests, a karaoke was well-used and, even if the dancers mostly remained seated, there was plenty of toe tapping, hand slapping and cheerful singing to the familiar favorites.

.In the end, despite the hoopla, despite the abundance of well-wishers and the good times in the celebration, Bertina closed with the same question of a year ago: “But why would anyone want to interview me,” she asked.